What should I consider before taking Social Security?

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Should I take Social Security early? Take it later? Continue to work? Your decisions around Social Security can make a big impact on your retirement – especially considering that Social Security administration estimates say it makes up about 40% of the average 65-year-old's retirement income today.

When and how you take Social Security are personal and complex decisions – and they need to be made with your entire financial picture in mind. Your Edward Jones financial advisor can walk you through various scenarios based on your specific situation, including the age you plan to begin claiming benefits, marital status and more, to help you decide what makes the most sense for you.

As a starting point, you'll need to begin thinking about a few things.

Is it better to take it early or wait?

If you begin taking your benefit at what the Social Security Administration considers full retirement age (FRA) – generally 66 or 67 – you'll receive 100% of your benefit. However, many people begin taking benefits earlier or later. The difference of just a few years can have a significant impact on how much you receive. And if you're married, your decision does not just affect you, it could also affect how much your spouse could receive when you pass away. Ultimately, your decisions should be made based on a variety of factors. Learn more with our Social Security resources.

What additional benefits are available for spouses?

If you're married, you can generally receive the higher of your full retirement benefit or 50% of your spouse's full retirement benefit. The amount will be reduced if you take your benefits before your FRA.

What if I plan on working after I retire?

Many people choose to work longer or work part time. But if you're receiving Social Security benefits, have not yet reached full retirement age, and earn more than a certain amount, some of your benefits may be withheld. In 2021, those earnings thresholds are $18,960 if you do not reach FRA in 2021, and $50,520 if you reach FRA in 2021. The agency's Retirement Earning Test Calculator can help you determine the impact. Unearned income (such as investments) won't reduce your benefit, but you should consider all income sources in your planning.

What if I'm divorced or widowed?

Spousal benefits may also be available for divorced spouses, depending on how long you were married.

If you're a surviving spouse, you can receive the higher of your own benefit or up to 100% of the deceased spouse's benefit, whichever is higher. This means that when you take Social Security could have an impact not only on your income when you are alive but also for your surviving spouse when you pass away. Talk to your local Edward Jones financial advisor or visit the Social Security Administration's website.

What other types of retirement benefits might I be entitled to?

Depending on your situation, you may be entitled to disabled or dependent benefits. We recommend talking to the Social Security Administration for more information.

The decisions you make about Social Security can impact your retirement significantly.

How we can help

Talk to your local Edward Jones financial advisor. We can help explain what it all means and sort through some of the complexities – including the effects of when you decide to claim, spousal benefits and taxes. You can also learn more by visiting our Social Security resources.

Important Information:

Before making any decisions, be sure to check out the Social Security Administration's website at www.ssa.gov and consult with your qualified tax advisor.