Should I wait to file for Social Security?

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Q. I will turn 66 in July, I am no longer employed. Should I wait until July to start collecting Social Security? Would there be a big difference in the benefit?
— Debating

A. You might be tempted to start collecting as soon as possible, especially if you’re concerned about how the new administration might change future benefits for retirees.

But there are compelling reasons to wait. Here’s why.

Once you turn 66, you have reached “full retirement age,” which means that you are eligible to receive your full Social Security benefits.

“While I am not aware of your primary insurance amount — the guaranteed amount you would receive at full retirement age — if you were to file now, you would have a permanent reduction to your benefits of approximately 3 percent,” said Timothy Brunnock, a financial advisor and attorney with Trinity Financial Strategies in Morristown.

You said you’re no longer working, so perhaps you need the cash. If you have alternative sources of income, though, you would earn delayed credits if you wait before filing for benefits.

“For each year you delay the start of benefits, your benefit will increase by 8 percent per year up to age 70, after which no further credits may be earned,” Brunnock said.

When you apply, Brunnock said, your delayed credits are calculated on a monthly basis.

That means you can apply anytime between your 66th and 70th birthdays and receive a prorated credit for the delay, he said.

“The bottom line is that you should wait at least until your full retirement age of 66 before filing,” Brunnock said.

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This post was first published in January 2017. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.