A growing number of Americans are starting to withdraw Social Security benefits before reaching full retirement age, according to a research poll conducted by Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs and reported by the AP.
Forty-four percent of those polled said they will look to Social Security for their main means of financial support after retirement and they will start collecting before they reach 65 or 66, the benchmark for receiving full benefits.
Benefits Reduced If Collect Early
Social Security regulations allow retirees who were born in the period from 1943 and 1954 to begin collecting as early as 62 years of age, but the benefit is reduced by up to 30 percent. That can have a significant effect on the long-term benefit.
Retirees who wait until they over 66 years of age see considerable increases in their monthly benefit, according to experts at the AARP Public Policy Institute. For each additional year past 66, the amount of retirement pay rises by 8 percent. The benefits top out at age 70, at which time the retiree is receiving the maximum amount.
Individual Circumstances Affect Retirement Decisions
But many Americans can’t or don’t want to wait that long to begin collecting, depending on their individual circumstances. Health and other considerations may weigh heavily in decisions to retire. Some people who lose their employment while approaching retirement are not able to get another job and early withdrawal of Social Security funds is a necessary option.
Social Security Main Source Of Income
Social Security is becoming more and more the main source of anticipated income for the retirement crowd. Fewer companies are offering standard retirement plans, opting to offer employees 401(k) and other plans to provide for their old age years. Only 43 percent of those polled said they are expecting a traditional pension.
Supplementing Social Security
Some workers, about 50 percent, reported that they also have other padding, such as a regular savings or IRA account, but some Social Security is by far the most commonly anticipated source, the survey found. Some 86 percent of those polled said they expect Social Security to contribute to their retirement income.
Retirement Age Rising
The average retirement age has been rising, as more Americans, particularly women, see the necessity for working longer to make retirement affordable. The average age for males is 64, and 62 for females. Compared with other countries, the American retirement ages still are relatively young.
Many factors enter into the retirement decision, including life expectancy data that show there are differences between rich and poor and among ethnic groups.
Questions about the solvency of the country’s most–drawn on retirement finance source have been a troubling aspect of the issue for some time. Since 1984, the program’s trust fund has run a surplus, but that is expected to end by around 2020 when the Baby Boomer generation hits the retirement ranks. The Social Security Administration believes interest income from the fund should be able to handle the increase until 2034, but at that point, the possibility of shrinkage in benefits could become a reality unless the issues are addressed. The matter is part of the current presidential debates taking place before the November elections. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton sees a need for expansion of the program, while likely Republican candidate Donald Trump has declared it should not be changed.