Just 10% of Non-Retired Americans Will Wait Until 70 to Take Maximum Social Security Benefits

Aug 18, 2023 / By Elaine Floyd, CFP ®

According to the 2023 Schroders US Retirement Survey, only 10% of non-retired Americans say they will wait until 70 to receive their maximum Social Security benefit payments.

Even worse, 40% of non-retired respondents plan to take Social Security between 62 and 65, thus locking in a permanently reduced benefit.

The choice to forgo larger Social Security payments is a deliberate one, as 72% of non-retired investors—and 95% of non-retired ages 60–65—are aware that waiting longer earns higher payments.

Why are so many non-retired Americans taking their Social Security benefits before age 70?

  • 44% said they were concerned Social Security may run out of money/stop making payments
  • 36% said they will need the money
  • 34% said it was their money and they wanted access to it as soon as possible
  • 13% said they were advised to take it earlier than age 70

It doesn’t help that the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget just published an article, Retirees Face a $17,400 Cut if Social Security Isn’t Saved, quantifying the loss for the typical, newly retired dual-income couple if benefits are cut by 23% in 2033.

While articles like this are designed to inspire outrage so people will lean on their legislators to push for Social Security reform, they more often lead to short-sighted claiming behavior. What’s missing from the article is any mention of the certain 30% reduction that the typical couple would face if they claim at 62. Instead of a possible $17,400 cut (which is not even likely due to the high probability that Congress will act before 2033) they will face a certain $22,700 loss due to the early-claiming penalty.

People are not being rational about this. That’s why they need you and the Savvy Calculators to help them understand not only the lifetime value of Social Security under the various claiming strategies, but also the concept of Social Security as longevity insurance—to provide protection in their old age in case they do live a long time!

Read more about the Schroder study here.

As director of retirement and life planning for Horsesmouth, Elaine Floyd helps advisors better serve their clients by understanding the practical and technical aspects of retirement income planning. A former wirehouse broker, she earned her CFP designation in 1986.


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