Knowing when to take Social Security benefits is a common concern during financial planning discussions. You might have heard the following conventional wisdom regarding when to take retirement benefits:

  1. If you delay taking benefits from age 62 to 67, the “break-even” point occurs when you hit 78 years and eight months. Meaning, if you will live 78 years and eight months or longer, you should postpone taking benefits till age 67.
  2. If you delay taking benefits from age 67 to 70, the “break-even” point occurs when you hit 80 years old. Meaning, if you will live to 80 years or older, you should postpone taking benefits till age 70.

We do not dispute these basic paradigms; however, there are several complexities involved in this determination that are not adequately addressed in the above hypotheses. The generic break-even points do not account for highly complex and individualized life expectancy calculations, spousal life expectancy calculations, whether you work while receiving benefits, and divorced and widowed spousal benefits and health-related costs.

It is for this reason that Central Trust Company will be rolling out a new seminar titled “An Overview of Social Security Retirement Benefits”! This seminar will demonstrate and explain three distinct and complex decision matrixes, upon which a decision could be made. These matrixes include a lifestyle matrix, an individual matrix, and a spousal matrix.

There are a couple resources that bear mentioning. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers excellent resources on their website. You can view these by visiting From the SSA tools, you may pull up your own customized earnings history. This history is then used to calculate your actual retirement benefits. What is often appreciated about the site is the availability of a “Quick Calculator” option, which allows them to estimate their benefits and alleviates the need to access their personal earnings history. The SSA site has won awards for its ease of use and user interface. It is recommended that you spend some time on the site as your first step before attending our seminar.

Another resource is the local Social Security field office in your area. If you don’t know where your office is located, visit to find the nearest Social Security office to you. Many clients have been referred to their local office, and we’ve received positive feedback about the experience. Before electing to receive retirement benefits, It is highly recommend, at the very minimum, that you use the SSA calculators and then visit your local office.

These decisions are complex and we are here to help. By accessing the resources above and attending one of our upcoming Social Security seminars, you can make a well-informed decision that works best for your unique situation. You are not alone when trying to navigate these complex and detailed decisions and we stand ready to assist and answer your queries.