Most Americans' lives are punctuated by a series of financial choices, good or bad.
How do you pay for college? How much debt do you take on? Do you negotiate your first salary? Will you pay for your kids' college? Save for retirement?
When do you take your Social Security?
It's that last question that Brian Doherty, president of Social Security consulting company FilTech, is most concerned with.
"Your decision about when to start receiving your Social Security benefits will probably be the last great financial decision of your lifetime," he writes in his upcoming book "Getting Paid to Wait: Bigger Social Security Benefits — the Simple and Easy Way."
Although many people might view Social Security benefits as an afterthought, he argues that delaying your claim can be extremely impactful on your wealth, whether or not you have supplementary retirement savings.
This is because, although Americans are allowed to opt into receiving their Social Security checks at age 62, they're allowed to defer the checks all the way until age 70, or claim at any age in between.
The longer you defer them, the more money you get. "If you wait until age 70 to claim or begin your Social Security benefits, your monthly benefit will be approximately 76% larger than the check you will receive if you claim at age 62," Doherty writes. "For every year that you delay, you are guaranteed to receive a larger check for the rest of your life."
For the record, Doherty does not think the Social Security program will fold any time soon. "I personally do not think the extreme outcomes discussed in the media will happen, especially for people over age 55," he writes.
Of course, some people can't afford to wait, but if you've been looking ahead and planning for retirement, you might want to take into account the fact that just waiting a little longer to claim your Social Security benefits could increase your monthly income.
After 30 years of waiting, what's another eight?
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