Social Security: Sometimes best not to wait

Tina Haapala |

Written by Gary Silverman, CFP®


In several articles over the years I have preached the merits of waiting to draw your Social Security retirement benefits. Today I want to look at some reasons why you should not wait. Have I changed my mind about this? No. But when it comes to personal finance, no answer is the single right answer for everyone. Here are some reasons it might make sense for you to draw your retirement benefits earlier than I’d otherwise recommend.

One of the main reasons to draw your Social Security “early” is that you need to. If you look at the possibility of continuing to work and that’s not possible, you look at your investments and realize they won’t fill the gap in time, and you look at your budget and don’t otherwise have enough money, then by all means start drawing your Social Security. Call this one necessity.

Another top reason is peace of mind. If you’re used to getting regular paychecks and the idea of not having a steady income gives you ulcers, then go ahead and let Social Security write you a monthly check. If you’re deathly afraid that no matter what others say you believe that Social Security is going away and you’ll never catch up unless you start drawing now, then go ahead and draw now. Call these reasons psychological.

The “wait” scenarios are fantastic if it seems like your genes will allow you to stay around into your mid-80s and beyond. For those expected to pass on earlier in life, the numbers don’t quite add up. So if you notice that your parents and grandparents died a bit prematurely, then you might consider drawing your Social Security sooner than later. This is a genetic reason.

Beyond all the spreadsheets and the resultant calculations, sometimes you do things just because you want to. Is getting the cheesecake after your meal the best dietary decision? Is the little red sports car or diamond bling the best use of your money? Is that TV show the best use of your time? For most of these and for most people the answer is no. You do them because you want to do them.

And to some extent, drawing your Social Security earlier than you need to is just something many want to do. While I don’t think that excuses you from studying the issue and comparing scenarios, I do think it is your decision. If you look it over and say, “I just feel better drawing it now even if it might not be the best decision technically,” then that is the valid answer for you. Call this reason “just because”.

This article was published in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on November 22, 2015.