Broker Check

Social Security for Singles

“When should I start Social Security?” is everyone’s question. For single people it is a pretty simple question to answer. All one needs to know is when you will die.

Of course we don’t know that. And we can’t know that.

So how do we decide? Take an educated guess.

In general, you will be better off delaying your Social Security if you expect to live much past your 80th birthday. If not, then you are better off starting early. While not exactly that simple, it gives you a good idea.

So the key questions to ask as you approach eligibility to begin your Social Security benefits relate to any chronic illness and the relative life expectancy of your ancestors. If you have no illnesses and your ancestors lived beyond their life expectancies then anticipating a long life is reasonable, and in that case delaying Social Security is an appropriate plan.

On the other hand, if your ancestors died earlier than expected and/or you have a chronic disease that could impact your life expectancy, then opting for an early beginning is a much more attractive choice.

Finally, to give you some concrete examples, here are a few specific optimum points. These are based on a Net Present Value of the future stream of income.

  • For death at age 75 (or earlier) the optimum age is 62.
  • For death at age 80 the optimum age is 67.
  • For death at age 85 the optimum age is 69.
  • For death at age 90 (or higher) the optimum age is 70.

Note that there is no reason to delay beyond age 70. The Delayed Retirement Credits (DRC) stop at age 70, so at that point – take it.

Of course these guidelines can be refined with narrowing of the assumptions. But the biggest factor in developing the optimum plan can simply not be known.