Pick a date, any date, between your 62nd birthday and your 70th. Somewhere in there is the exact optimal moment for you to collect Social Security - but here is the maddening bit. There is no right answer. Of course there are right answers for specific individuals - but there is not one right answer for all.
The fact is that the most popular age to start collecting Social Security is the earliest - 62. About 48% of women take it then, and 42% of men do too. As for waiting until 70, only 4% of women do and 2% of men do, according to data from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
In between there are reasons to rumble about which ages are optimal, but it's important to understand that there is no reason to wait beyond 70. No expert recommends doing it. But that's about the only thing experts fully agree on.
Why not just grab the money at the earliest opportunity? Take Social Security at 62, and there's an economic hit. The monthly check is 75% of the full retirement benefit which, for today's seniors, is at 66 (it is edging up to 67 and possibly beyond). Month by month, that payout increases so every month of delay adds to the haul. Start collecting at 63, for instance, and you get 80% of the full retirement age check. Wait until 64 and you get 86.7%. Wait until 70 and the bonus is that the check is bumped up to 132% of the full retirement benefit.
Do the math. A full retirement benefit of $1,000/monthly at 66 goes to $1,320 at 70 - or drops to $750 at 62.
Don't think that therefore the right age is obvious. Nor is it obvious that collecting at 62 is the wrong move.
Blogger Anna Renault said she began collecting in 2012 at age 62, and she is convinced that was the smart move. In 2009 she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She added: "I had had other cancers, I really wasn't sure that breast cancer would not come back in the other breast or that another cancer wouldn't hit me." She added: "Will I see 70? The odds are against me, but I do believe in miracles!"
But she also wanted the reality of Social Security money in her hands every month, so she grabbed hers at the first chance.