I often recommend talking to the Social Security Administration (SSA), either at your local office or on their hotline, to review your particular situation. But this advice comes with a caveat… you need to know as much as you can about your options, and what you are entitled to do, so that you are well-armed when you speak with the SSA.
This is because the SSA representatives’ default advice is often to recommend the option that provides you the largest benefit today. The reason for this may be because it is in the SSA’s best interest for you to make your move now, because you’re on the phone with them, so you must be interested in getting benefits right away.
This also could be the case because a very high percentage of the eligible benefit recipients do not wish to delay receiving their benefit. So the folks you talk to at the SSA office are playing the averages by assuming that that’s what you want to do.
It is for these reasons that it makes very good sense to know as much as possible about your situation and the options that you have available (and what you are entitled to) before you talk to the SSA. Explain to the representative what you’re planning to do, and have them run the numbers to tell you what your benefits will be in the scenario(s) you’re suggesting.
Use the internet’s resources to find out what strategy works best for your particular situation. If you’re married, for example, there may be coordination strategies to think about. The same is true if you are divorced after at least ten years of marriage and not remarried. If you’re a widow(er) or your ex-spouse has died, even more coordination is available. Learn about your possible strategies and choose the right one for you. Then talk to SSA about it.
It pays to be informed – this is especially important when it’s something as confusing and complicated (with so much potential gain and loss) as your Social Security benefits.