There are many software packages that will show different income scenarios from Social Security. One of the most popular scenarios is, “Which will give me the most income over life expectancy?” Tell us when you’ll die, and we’ll tell you the best way to maximize benefits. Is that really the right answer? Better still, was it the right question?

Do you remember “Wimpy” from the old Popeye cartoon strip? He frequently said, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” We all laugh about that, but in some ways, that’s taking Social Security today versus waiting. You pay for it the rest of your life! Why did Wimpy want it today when he had no money? As I recall, Wimpy was not starving! He simply could not wait until tomorrow because he loved hamburgers so much. He couldn’t say “No”.

The better questions we should think about are whether the income is needed today; is my health reasonably good (life expectancy); will greater monthly cash flow later be better for me, etc? Taking it today may feel better, but is it wise if it is not needed today and the higher monthly cash flow in a few will be better?
Every month’s wait produces a higher monthly benefit…32% higher at 70 than age 66. The significant but often overlooked fact is that the benefit is indexed to inflation, and beginning with a 32% larger benefit at 70 will produce a much greater monthly flow over time. We live on cash flow. Doing the homework is worth the time to make sure!