Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits: When and How to Start Drawing

retirees thinking about their social security


The million-dollar-plus question for today may be at the forefront of your mind as you stare toward retirement…

“When should I (or we) start taking my (or our) Social Security?”

I believe in giving you the best possible answer for financial questions, and in this situation, the correct answer for you is…

It depends.

“Hilary, that’s not a fair answer!”

I understand, and I agree that may not be the answer you want to hear, so let’s try our level best to answer this for you.

What are the questions, details, challenges, and other key variables that may affect your readiness and timeliness for making your Social Security claim?

We need to start with your FRA: Full Retirement Age. This is the age when you will reach the fully eligible retirement age, often around the ages of 66-67.

However, you can start drawing Social Security benefits much earlier. The lowest available monthly starting payments often start at age 62 and span to as late as age 70 for the highest available monthly starting payments.

Generally, unless you need the money early, it’s often wise to wait until your Full Retirement Age to start drawing Social Security.

What Factors Influence Social Security Draw Dates?

I cannot emphasize enough how important your personalized financial plan is for making financial decisions, including when to draw Social Security. What may be an ideal draw date for your best friend or even your spouse may not be ideal for your Social Security fund.

What might affect your starting date for drawing your Social Security benefits? Here are a few, but not all, of the factors that may affect your optimal timing for Social Security:

  • New Legislation or Changes to Existing Legislation:
    Congress is sometimes unpredictable in the arena of new legislation, however, legislative changes that can dynamically affect retirement plans are often met with political resistance.. Could taxation allowances and draw requirements, such as RMD age thresholds, change with any given Congressional session? Of course, but the likelihood is low at this time.
  • Alternative Income Sources:
    If you have few or no alternative income sources after you retire, you may be pressed to draw on your Social Security sooner.
  • Life Expectancy:
    The age-old question of “Will I outlive my money?” is tied to this factor. Even if you can afford to wait, will your health, lifestyle, and family history justify waiting to draw your Social Security?
  • Estate Planning:
    Are you planning to leave as much as possible to your heirs and/or charities of choice after you pass? Your estate plan may affect how you draw from different retirement funding.
  • Employment:
    Will you keep working until your FRA? Once you reach that mark, you may then collect your full Social Security benefits. Until that day, though, your earnings may reduce your Social Security benefits.
  • Marital Status:
    If you’re married, one of you has probably paid in more, one is more likely to live longer, you may retire at different times, and your age is likely different. All of these factors can complicate the conversation. What’s ideal for you may not be as ideal for your partner as far as when you each start drawing your Social Security.
  • Lifestyle Circumstances:
    Beyond your marital status, there are other factors that may influence your timing, such as if you own a business, you live abroad, you qualify for Social Security Disability, or whether your children qualify for Social Security benefits under your account.
  • Income Taxes:
    Many pre-retirees don’t realize up to 85% of Social Security income may be taxable. Your annual Social Security income is influenced by your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). This formula may push your income past Medicare thresholds for as much as two years prior. Tax planning may influence when and how you draw your Social Security.


Some analyses have even factored in the cost of spending down other assets while you wait, rather than using them for continued investment growth.

Again, your personalized financial plan is likely the best source for determining your ideal draw date.

Take Charge of Your Social Security Planning

While there are many factors to consider when you start taking Social Security, there is one priceless principle…

“Control what you can. Let go of what you can’t.”

You know your relationship status. You can find out your current Social Security account details. You can make educated guesses about your life expectancy, how long you’ll work, and so on.

All of these factors are presumably within your control. You can make reasonable assumptions and plans based on this information.

Outside those details, as with any of us, there is little within your control. When details that are outside your control influence your plans, you can rest assured you did your best to plan for change.

Instead of feeding your energy into being upset because plans changed, how can you channel that energy toward adjusting?

Focusing on what we know rather than what is unknown is a powerful way to face adversity head-on.

When was the last time you looked at your Social Security account? Do you know when you’ll likely be able to draw from your Social Security?

Our team of advisors with Hendershott Wealth Management incorporates Social Security draw details into financial planning. We have a trusted process to help you experience greater abundance in how you see the world and your future. 

Schedule an initial call with our team today. Click here.


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