When to Claim Social Security – Implications for Retirement Planning

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Determining when to claim Social Security benefits is a critical aspect of retirement planning. The timing of your claim can significantly impact your financial well-being during your golden years. In this article, we will discuss key considerations to help you make an informed decision; by understanding the factors that affect optimal timing, you can maximize your benefits and secure a more financially stable retirement.

Life Expectancy and Financial Strategy

Estimating your life expectancy is key when determining the right time to claim Social Security benefits. Tools like the life expectancy calculator at www.livingto100.com can provide insights into your potential longevity based on various factors. By taking into account your family health history and your own health conditions, you can assess the best filing strategy for your specific situation. This knowledge will guide your decision on whether to claim benefits early or delay them.

Marital Status, Dependents, and Divorce

Your marital status and whether you have dependents plays a significant role in Social Security planning. If you are married, divorced, widowed, or have minor children, understanding the potential benefits available to you is crucial. Spousal benefits, survivor benefits, and benefits based on an ex-spouse’s record may be applicable in certain situations. Familiarize yourself with these options to maximize Social Security benefits for yourself and your loved ones.

Retirement Work Plans

If you intend to continue working during retirement, be aware of the impact on claiming Social Security benefits before reaching full retirement age. Your benefits may be temporarily reduced if your other income exceeds a certain threshold. Conversely, delaying benefits while working can lead to an increase in your future monthly benefit amount. Understanding the ramifications of your work plans will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals.

Pre-Tax Assets and Tax Considerations

Evaluate the amount of pre-tax assets you have, including traditional 401(k)s or IRAs, and the potential impact on your taxable Social Security benefits. Withdrawals from pre-tax retirement accounts are generally subject to income tax, which can increase the portion of your Social Security benefits that is taxable. On the other hand, if you have significant assets in Roth accounts, such as Roth IRAs or Roth 401(k)s, withdrawals from these accounts are tax-free and can help reduce the tax burden on your Social Security benefits. Carefully consider the tax implications of your retirement assets to optimize your retirement income.

Earnings Not Subject to Social Security Tax

If you have earnings from employment that were not subject to Social Security tax, such as self-employment income or certain government positions, familiarize yourself with the potential impact on your Social Security benefits. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) or the Government Pension Offset (GPO) may reduce your benefits.

Deferring Benefits and Retirement Readiness

Assess your ability to defer Social Security benefits and evaluate your overall retirement readiness. Delaying benefits beyond your full retirement age, up to age 70, can result in a higher monthly benefit. However, deferring benefits requires adequate financial resources to cover your living expenses during the deferral period. Review your retirement savings, expenses, and other income sources to determine if deferring benefits aligns with your financial situation and long-term goals.


Choosing when to claim Social Security benefits is a personal and complex decision that requires careful consideration of a variety of factors. By assessing your life expectancy, marital status, work plans, retirement assets, tax implications, and potential offsets, you can make a determination based on your unique circumstances. It’s essential to work closely with a financial planner or tax professional to evaluate the specific tax implications of your retirement assets. They can provide guidance on strategies to minimize the impact of taxes on your Social Security benefits and help you make informed decisions that align with your overall retirement goals.

Matthew Benson, CFP®

Owner / Certified Financial Planner™

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Important Disclosure

Advisory services are offered through Sonmore Financial LLC, an Investment Advisor in the State of Arizona.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

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