When Should You Claim Social Security? Discover Your Break-Even Age!

Did you know that the age at which you claim Social Security can significantly impact your total lifetime benefits? The timing of your decision can mean a difference of thousands of dollars over the course of your retirement. According to the Social Security Administration, claiming benefits at age 62 instead of waiting until full retirement age can reduce your monthly benefit by as much as 30%.

This blog aims to help you understand the optimal time to claim Social Security benefits, how to calculate your break-even age to make the most informed decision possible, or when to take Social Security Calculator.

Besides this, we also offer services to get rid of tax debts, like an offer in compromise with the IRS, innocent spouse relief IRS, and penalty abatement IRS to help you with the tax relief option.

When is the Best Time to take Social Security?

Choosing when to claim Social Security benefits is a necessary financial decision for your retirement. The timing of your claim can significantly impact your financial well-being throughout your retirement years. Let’s explore the key factors that should guide your decision.

Full Retirement Age (FRA)

Your full retirement age (FRA) is the age at which you qualify for 100% of your Social Security retirement benefits. It varies based on your birth year:

  • Born 1943-1954: FRA is 66
  • Born 1955-1959: FRA increases gradually up to 66 and 10 months
  • Born 1960 or later: FRA is 67

Claiming benefits before your FRA will reduce your monthly benefit amount while delaying benefits increases it.

Early vs. Late Claiming

  • Claiming Early (as early as age 62): Claiming Social Security benefits at age 62 allows you to access your benefits sooner, which can be necessary if you need the income immediately or have health concerns. However, your monthly benefits will be permanently reduced.
  • Claiming at FRA: Claiming benefits at your full retirement age means you will receive your full monthly benefits based on your lifetime earnings. While you get the full amount, you miss out on the potential increases from delaying your claim.
  • Delaying Benefits (up to age 70): Delaying your Social Security benefits until age 70 results in a higher monthly benefit due to delayed retirement credits. Your benefits increase by approximately 8% for each year you delay past your FRA. This can significantly boost your monthly income. However, you need to wait longer to receive benefits, which might not be feasible if you need the income sooner.

Personal Considerations

  • Current Financial Needs: Assess your immediate financial situation. If you need the money to cover essential expenses, claiming early might be necessary. However, if you can manage without the benefits, delaying can increase your monthly income significantly.
  • Life Expectancy: Consider your health and family history. If you expect to live a long life, delaying benefits could provide more financial support over time. For example, starting benefits at age 70 could result in a monthly benefit that is about 77% higher than starting at 62.
  • Health Status: Your health can heavily influence your decision. If you have significant health issues or a shorter life expectancy, claiming earlier might make sense. Conversely, if you’re in good health and have a family history of longevity, delaying could be beneficial.
  • Employment Status: If you work while claiming Social Security before reaching your full retirement age (FRA), your benefits may be reduced if you earn over $21,240 in 2024. For every $2 over this limit, $1 is deducted from your benefits. After reaching your FRA, there’s no limit on your earnings, and your benefits won’t be reduced.
  • Special Considerations for Married Couples: Married couples have additional factors to consider. Coordinating benefits can maximize your total household income:
    • Spousal Benefits: A spouse can claim benefits based on their own earnings or up to 50% of their spouse’s benefit, whichever is higher.
    • Survivor Benefits: Delaying the higher earner’s benefits can increase the survivor benefit for the remaining spouse, ensuring better financial security.
  • Children’s Benefits: If you have children under age 18 or children with disabilities that began before age 22, they might be eligible for benefits based on your work record when you start receiving Social Security.
  • Medicare Enrollment: Regardless of when you claim Social Security, sign up for Medicare at age 65 to avoid late enrollment penalties. This is critical for managing healthcare costs in retirement.

Understanding Break Even Age for Social Security

The break-even age or social security break even point, is the point at which the total benefits received from delaying Social Security exceed the benefits received from claiming early. This helps you understand the financial implications of waiting to claim your benefits.

Calculating Your Break-Even Age

Here’s a step-by-step guide to calculating your break-even age:

  1. Estimate Your Benefits: Use the Social Security break-even calculator to estimate your benefits at different ages. This tool helps you see potential monthly benefits based on your earnings record.
  2. Compare Total Benefits: Calculate the total benefits you would receive if you started at age 62, at your full retirement age (FRA), and at age 70. For example, if your FRA benefit is $1,500 monthly, you might receive $1,050 per month at age 62 and $1,860 monthly at age 70.
  3. Find the Break-Even Point: Determine the age at which the total benefits from delaying exceed those from starting early. For instance, if you receive $1,050 per month at age 62, you would have received $63,000 by age 67 (your FRA). If you wait until age 67, you will start receiving $1,500 per month. The break-even point occurs when the total benefits you would have received by waiting to surpass the total you would have received by starting earlier.

By following these steps, you can make an informed decision about when to claim Social Security benefits to maximize your financial outcome in retirement.

Real-Life Scenario: Maximizing Social Security Benefits for James at Hopkins CPA Firm

James Brown from Denver, Colorado, sought assistance from Hopkins CPA Firm to determine the best time to claim his Social Security benefits. He wanted to maximize his lifetime benefits and understand his break-even age.


Detail Information
Client Name James Brown
Location Denver, Colorado
Current Age 62
Full Retirement Age (FRA) 67
Estimated FRA Benefit $1,500 per month
Benefits at Age 62 $1,050 per month
Benefits at Age 70 $1,860 per month


  1. Estimating Benefits: We used the Social Security Break Even Calculator to estimate James’ benefits at ages 62, 67, and 70.
  2. Comparing Total Benefits:
    • Starting at Age 62:
      • Monthly Benefit: $1,050
      • Total by Age 67: $1,050 x 60 months = $63,000
    • Starting at FRA (67):
      • Monthly Benefit: $1,500
      • Total by Age 70: $1,500 x 36 months = $54,000
    • Finding the Break-Even Point:
      • The monthly difference between starting at 62 and 67 is $450 ($1,500 – $1,050).
      • James would recoup the $63,000 lead in approximately 11.67 years ($63,000 ÷ $450/month), or about 140 months after reaching FRA.
      • This places the break-even age at around 78 years and 8 months.


Based on our analysis, we advised James that if he expects to live beyond 78 years and 8 months, waiting until at least his FRA (or ideally until age 70) would be more beneficial financially. This guidance ensures that James maximizes his Social Security income and makes the most informed decision for his retirement.

Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits

Deciding when to claim Social Security is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make for your retirement. The age at which you choose to start receiving benefits can significantly affect your total lifetime income. By understanding factors such as your Full Retirement Age (FRA), financial needs, life expectancy, and break-even age, you can make a more informed decision.

Calculating your break-even age helps you determine the most advantageous time to claim benefits, balancing the need for immediate income against the benefits of waiting for higher payments. Tools like the SSA’s online calculator can assist in this process.

For personalized assistance, whether it’s about Social Security benefits or additional services like insurance planning services, tax preparation services in Texas, and nationwide and unfiled tax returns help, our team at Hopkins CPA Firm is here to help you navigate these important financial decisions.

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Joe Hopkins

Joe has 25+ years as a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of Texas and solving IRS problems. Current member with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Texas Society of CPA’s (TSCPA), National Society of Accountants (NSA), Bachelor’s degree in accounting (BBA), Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Experience in a variety of industries as Controller, CFO and tax resolution issues for both business and personal tax cases.