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Asset Allocation

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Analysis of the Economics of Early Social Security Withdrawal

Robert J. Phillips
Chief Retirement Consultant

Deciding whether or not to take the early withdrawal of social security at age 62 can be difficult. If you need this income at 62 to fund your retirement the decision is fairly straightforward. Take it early! On the other hand, if you have another source of revenue to fund your retirement your decision will be primarily based on lifestyle, health and investment preferences.

Several factors can affect your decision. First is your life expectancy. If you are in good health and have a family history of living beyond 90 then waiting for full benefits may be best. Two other factors impact this decision. First and most important is the value of money or your expected return from your investments. If you are using other investments instead of social security to fund your retirement you should use the rate of return of these investments as your value of money. There is another way to look at the value of money. If you do not require the social security money to live, you can invest the distributions for the future. The rate of return of this investment is your value of money. If your investments will make larger returns such as stocks this would favor taking the early withdrawal.

The last factor impacting your decision is inflation. Social security includes an annual adjustment based on inflation. You cannot control this variable but you should be aware of its impact. If future inflation is significant it will favor a later full distribution

FREE Social Security Calculator:

Find Out Your Breakeven Age

We developed a calculator to assist in analyzing the impact of taking early benefits at age 62 or waiting for full benefits at age 66 to 67 depending on the year you were born...If you were born in 1960 or later your full benefits will begin at age 67 and your reduction for early benefits at age 62 will be 30%. If you were born between 1946 and 1960 your full benefits begin as early as age 66. We have included a chart that summarizes information.

To use the calculator you need to input your year of birth. You also need to input a value of money up to 10% and a projected inflation adjustment. The calculator analyzes income generated over time from both the early and full benefit investments. It calculates the age at which full social security will catch up and breakeven with the early withdrawal. If you were born before 1960 your breakeven age will be impacted by the year you were born. An early breakeven age favors waiting for full benefits.

The social security calculator is not the final answer whether to take an early withdrawal but it does give you additional economic data to assist in that decision. Ultimately you must balance income, investments and lifestyle to optimize your enjoyment during your retirement years.