It’s critical to know what to expect now that you’ve been approved for benefits.
The age of 62 is a significant retirement milestone. This is because it is the earliest age at which you can file for Social Security. It’s also a popular time for senior citizens to file for benefits.
If you’re thinking of enrolling in Social Security as soon as you’re allowed, you should be aware of the consequences of your decision. And that includes getting to know these crucial Social Security rules.
1. If You Don’t Have a 35-year Work History, Your Benefits May Be Reduced
If you began working in your early twenties, you may have 35 years or more under your belt by the time you reach the age of 62. You may not have a 35-year work history by the time you reach 62 if you took an extended job hiatus — for example, to raise children — or if you didn’t start your career until your 30s because you spent additional time seeking an education.
What is the significance of this? Your monthly Social Security income is determined using your 35 highest-paid years in the working. This means that for each year in the top 35 for which you don’t have earnings on file, the computation of your benefit will include a $0 figure.
Too many $0s, or even a single $0, could result in a decreased monthly payout for the rest of your life. That’s not a good thing if you plan to rely largely on Social Security in retirement.
2. If You Collect Your Benefits Too Soon, They May Be Reduced for the Rest of Your Life
Although you can sign up for Social Security as early as age 62, you won’t be eligible for the full monthly payment based on your earnings history until you’re 65. You’ll have to wait until you reach full retirement age, or FRA, to file for the full monthly payout.
Your FRA is determined by your birth year. If you’re 62 years old this year, your FRA is 67. As a result, if you apply for Social Security at the age of 62, you’ll receive a payout that’s 30% smaller than it could have been.
3. If You File While You’re Still Working, Your Benefits May Be Withheld
You can work and collect benefits at the same time, according to the Social Security Administration. If you do so before you reach FRA, though, you risk losing some perks if you make too much money.
You can earn up to $19,560 this year without affecting your benefits. Then, for every $2 you earn over that amount, $1 will be deducted from your Social Security.
Those benefits that have been withheld will be repaid to you later, specifically when you attain FRA. But keep in mind that claiming Social Security at the age of 62 will lock in a reduced monthly amount. And if you’ll be working and having certain benefits withheld due to high enough earnings, it might not be worth it.