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By Reid Hartsfield
• Jun 7, 2024
Wealth Strategist
TD Wealth®

One of the most important financial questions people will have to consider is the right age to begin taking Social Security.

Most people are eligible to start receiving Social Security income at age 62. For many, Social Security is a big chunk of their retirement income. However, holding off until you are older, may create a significant benefit depending on your individual circumstances.

Reid Hartsfield, Wealth Strategist at TD Wealth®, shares the following tips, to help you gain the most benefit from your Social Security income based on your personal situation.

Look at the big picture

To know when you will benefit most from taking Social Security, start with a complete financial plan. There are many considerations to include in your financial plan: your health and time horizon; your total net worth and access to funds; whether you have a spouse or not, and your day-to-day fixed and variable expenses. Understanding your current financial picture and taking into consideration your changing needs and future expenses can help you better understand when you should tap into Social Security.

Wait, if you can

Full retirement age is currently 66 years and four months for people born before 1956 but it is age 67 for people born in 1960 or later. This is the age when you are eligible to receive 100% of your Social Security income, but by waiting until age 70, you can receive even more.

For example, if you start receiving Social Security benefits at age 67, the amount will be 30% more than the amount received if you started at age 62. And if you wait until age 70, you'll get an additional 24% bump in income between ages 67 and 70.

The general rule is that if you have other assets and income you can spend before starting to receive Social Security income, use that money first. Taking advantage of a pension, a retirement savings account like a 401(k) or IRA, or even a general savings account, before dipping into Social Security is ideal because Social Security benefits will be lower if they are taken before the age of 70. If you don’t need to borrow money to live on, holding off is usually your best bet.

If you really need your Social Security income for day-to-day expenses and you are concerned about your health and time horizon, you can start taking it early. There is also an option to take a voluntary suspension from Social Security benefits. A voluntary suspension is available as long as you are older than full retirement age and younger than 70 years old when you decide to take it.

Spousal benefits

If you have been married for one year or more, you can take either 100% of your own retirement benefits or 50% of your spouse's, whichever is higher. Keep in mind that the spousal benefit amount will be permanently reduced if taken before full retirement age. Different rules apply if the spouse is caring for the primary earner’s child. Spousal benefits do not affect the benefits of the primary earner.

A surviving spouse can start receiving benefits at age 60, two years earlier than the general population, but the benefit is reduced if taken before full retirement age. A surviving spouse is eligible to receive 100% of the benefits that were available to their late spouse after the surviving spouse reaches full retirement age. The spouse can switch to their own Social Security benefit amount at a later time if it happens to be higher.

Other points to consider

  • It’s important to keep in mind that, if you are still working when you take benefits before full retirement age, you can only receive up to $22,320 of earned income in 2024 and still get the same amount of Social Security benefits. This amount is called the yearly earnings limit and making more than this amount will reduce the amount of Social Security income you receive. After that limit, $1 is deducted from benefits for every $2 earned over $22,320.
  • If you do decide to retire at 62 years old and live on Social Security benefits, pay attention to your health insurance. There will be a three-year gap before Medicare starts, and paying privately for health insurance for those three years can add up.
  • Living overseas will not impact your Social Security benefits, so it’s okay to move to another country and apply for your Social Security income when you are ready.
  • There is no monetary benefit to starting your benefit after age 70. There are no increases other than cost of living adjustments after age 70.
  • Unlike other retirement investments, Social Security adjusts for inflation because the Social Security Administration takes into account a cost-of-living adjustment. It's something to consider when you weigh which retirement accounts to dip into early on.

For more on personal finance topics

If you have more questions about personal finance topics that matter to you, visit the Learning Center on TD Bank’s website. You can find out more information about TD Bank's services at

We hope you found this helpful. This article is for informational purposes only and is based on information available as of May 2024 and is subject to change. Any references to third party programs and/or services are informational and may not apply in your specific circumstances. This content is not intended to provide legal, tax, investment, or financial advice or to indicate that a TD Bank, TD Bank affiliate, or third-party product or service is available or right for you.

For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

TD Wealth® Disclaimers

TD Wealth® is a brand of TD Bank N.A., member FDIC (TD Bank). Banking, investment management and trust services are available through TD Bank. Securities and investment advisory products are available through TD Private Client Wealth LLC, a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission registered investment adviser and broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC (TDPCW). Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. (Epoch) is a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission registered investment adviser that provides investment management services to TD Wealth®. TD Bank, TDPCW and Epoch are affiliates.

The information contained herein is current as of May 2024. The views expressed are those of the guest author and are subject to change based on tax and other laws. The information provided here is for educational purposes only.

The planning strategies mentioned here may not be suitable or tax efficient for you. You should review the strategies discussed with your legal counsel, independent tax advisor and accountant/CPA prior to making any decisions.

Federal and state tax rules and requirements are subject to frequent change. TD Wealth® does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice to its clients. This article is not a substitute for such professional advice or services. It should not be relied upon by you, your estate, your fiduciaries, or any of your beneficiaries as legal or tax advice or as a basis for any decision or action that my affect your finances. Prior to making any decision or taking any action that may impact your estate plan, you should consult with your attorney, independent tax advisor and accountant/CPA for a complete analysis of the legal and tax implications applicable to your particular situation.

TD Bank and its affiliates are not liable for any errors or omissions, and you understand that this summary is general in its scope; educational only in nature; and may not be relied upon as investment, legal or tax advice in making any determination whether to take action. TD Wealth® is not responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this summary.

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