The Journal Of Aging Studies conducted several focus groups in Los Angeles, Virginia and Washington, D.C. (click here) of early retirees who claimed their Social Security benefits earlier than their Full Retirement Age (FRA). Of the group “about 45% claimed Social Security at age 62, and about 65% claimed before Full Retirement Age (ages 65–66)”
We might expect that older adults may regret early claiming, since this can result in lower financial security in later life. Respondents reported satisfaction with their decisions to claim relatively early. Most noted that they “made the right decision given their circumstances at the time.” Reasons for the decision included liquidity constraints and longevity concerns. People reported that were circumstances different they would have chosen to claim later. We also found evidence that having more information and being better prepared at the time of claiming increased satisfaction levels.
All of the early retirees had many of the same reasons for claiming SS early. The main reason was financial (lack of future income or very little money saved for retirement). The second largest reason was due to health. Most didn’t think they were going to live that long so the sooner they collected the better it would be for the remainder of their lifespans.
In the majority of the cases, most early retirees cited they did not regret their decisions, based on their circumstances at the time. Most people were content with when they pulled the lever. The retirees often said the decision was highly personal, and unable to bend to any broad prescription.
Full disclosure: both my husband and myself took early Social Security benefits at age 62. My husband for health reasons (he has a genetic heart disorder). Me? I just wanted my money now. The difference for me between 62 and 66 were mere pennies in retrospect. I’m a very thrifty gal. Just give me the money, regardless of the amount, and I’ll make the money perform magic tricks. When you live a debt free life, inflation can be conquered by simply cutting back. Or by making very wise investments that pay you dividends or monthly interest payments.
Just remember, from 62 to 65, no Medicare deductibles are taken out of your Social Security check. For some, that’s an extra $135 a month (or so, depending on total annual income) for three years. For me, that was an extra $5,000 I was able to put away in a savings/investment account as a special retirement cushion. Plus it forced me to learn how to live on less, which was coming my way once I turned 65 and my Medicare kicked in. Throw in a few yearly COLAs (Cost Of Living Adjustments…..which I hear, is going to be 3% for 2019!) and my income balances itself out. I’ve made it all work out for the both of us.