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Helping You Plan

Not sure when to start Social Security? Answering three critical questions can help you decide.

Not sure when to start social security?

The truth is, there are a lot of options for how and when to take Social Security benefits, and navigating among them can be complicated. But making the effort to do so may pay off significantly for many people and/or their dependents. Social Security decisions that might seem relatively inconsequential at the time may be worth thousands of dollars over time. Social Security can be a valuable source of retirement income— especially when it’s used to the best advantage for each person’s own situation.

Taking time to think through your own situation and outlook for the future gives you the opportunity to avoid making Social Security claiming mistakes that result in less income over time than other choices would have generated.

Why is your Social Security claiming decision so important?

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Social Security replaces 40%, on average, of recipients’ preretirement income.

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  • There isn’t just one way to claim your Social Security benefit—there are dozens. Picking the best one for your situation may make a huge difference financially.
  • Social Security replaces 40%, on average, of recipients’ preretirement income.1 This percentage can vary significantly depending on individual situations and claiming decisions made.
  • You’ve been paying into Social Security your entire working life. You owe it to yourself to make the best use of this benefit.

We’ve identified three of the most important questions people often neglect to think through when making their Social Security benefit elections—and mention points to consider to help you make the best Social Security decisions for your household.

Making your Social Security claiming decision

First and foremost: There’s no need to feel anxious or rushed to choose the “best age” out of three options. Your choices aren’t just age 62, your full retirement age, or age 70—you can pick any month between ages 62 and 70 as your starting point. And while you’ve ideally been planning financially for your retirement throughout your career, you have the flexibility to make this important Social Security decision whenever you’re ready to—even after you retire.

Second: Take time to review at least annually your financial situation and other factors that could affect the timing of your Social Security start date.

For example, have there been unanticipated changes in:

  • Your health, budget, or retirement assets?
  • Overall market conditions?
  • Laws pertaining to Social Security retirement benefits?

Third: You don’t have to make this critical decision in a vacuum. As you explore different strategies for taking your Social Security retirement benefits, we encourage you to consult with your tax professional as well as your Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Advisor. Your financial advisor can evaluate your personal situation with you annually—and help you move forward toward the Social Security decision that you feel best meets your needs.

We also suggest that you visit the Social Security Administration’s website at It provides a wealth of information and resources that can help you learn about the Social Security program and calculate your estimated Social Security monthly income starting at different ages.

1 U.S. Social Security Administration,

2 St. Louis Federal Reserve data

3 U.S. Social Security Administration,

4 U.S. Social Security Administration,

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The views expressed and any forward-looking statements are as of August 28, 2020, and are those of Wells Fargo Advisors. The views expressed are subject to change at any time in response to changing circumstances in the market. Wells Fargo Advisors disclaims any obligation to publicly update or revise any views expressed or forward-looking statements.

Only general features of annuities are discussed herein. Any guarantees are subject to the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Members SIPC, separate registered brokerdealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company.

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