Good things come to those who wait. Case in point, your Social Security benefits. Everyone has a designated Full Retirement Age (FRA) at which they will receive 100% of their Social Security benefits. For most Boomers it is age 66, while for those born in 1960 or later, it is age 67. Remember, this is the age at which you get 100% of your benefit amount. If you take benefits earlier, your benefits will be reduced by as much as 25%. On the flip side, if you are able to delay taking your benefits past your FRA, you can earn deferred retirement credits which will increase your Social Security benefit.

In fact, if you delay until age 70, your benefit will equal 132% of your benefit at your FRA.

However, many retirees claim benefits early at a reduced rate, or otherwise fail to maximize their potential benefits. For example, for those eligible for Social Security benefits born in 1946, few delayed claiming one year or more past their full retirement age (only about 8% of men and 7% of women claimed at age 67 or later, read more on Forbes). There are many factors to consider when deciding when to take your benefits. If you need income immediately, do not expect to live long into retirement due to health concerns or family longevity history, it may make sense to take benefits at or before your FRA. However, if you can afford to delay the start of your benefits, you can significantly increase your benefit amount when you do begin receiving Social Security. These guaranteed lifetime benefits are an important pillar of your retirement income, along with other savings, an employer-sponsored pension (if you are fortunate enough to have one), and guaranteed* income products like fixed indexed annuities.

Whatever your situation, make sure you take the time to educate yourself and make the right decision for you and your family. In addition to getting information from the Social Security Administration, a retirement-focused insurance agent or financial advisor may also be able to help you gather information and educate yourself about your filing options, so that you can get more out of your Social Security benefits and create more retirement income.

*Guarantees in insurance products are based solely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

Don Deans, Tarkenton Financial LLC, and its representatives are not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

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