Generally, people can start Social Security benefits as early as age 62—and many people do just that. Generally, many people are making the wrong choice. “The later the better when it comes to claiming Social Security,” David Blanchett, head of retirement research for Morningstar’s Investment Management division, told On Wall Street. He supports that conclusion in his new paper, “When to Claim Social Security Retirement Benefits,” recently published in the Journal of Personal Finance.

Starting benefits at age 62 provides a benefit equal to 75% of an individual’s benefit at age 66, which is now full retirement age (FRA) for Social Security. Thus, waiting those four years increases monthly benefits by one-third. After FRA, there is an 8% annual increase for waiting to start; this escalation continues until age 70, the last practical starting age.

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