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A Social Security Benefit Calculator? It's Not Foolproof

One critical financial decision for soon-to-be retirees is when to begin collecting Social Security benefits. Putting aside other concerns--such as whether you're really ready to retire--it often boils down to whether you want to start earlier, and receive lower monthly benefits, or wait longer to receive higher benefits.

In this high-tech age, it's not surprising that online calculators are springing up, designed to do all of the number-crunching for you. However, while these tools can provide valuable insights, they won't necessarily tell you everything you need to know.

Generally, you can begin receiving Social Security retiree benefits as early as age 62, but you won't qualify for 100% of the benefits you've earned until you reach your full retirement age (66 for most baby boomers). If you wait until age 70 to stake your claim, the monthly benefits will be even higher. Benefits increase by about 6% to 8% for every year you wait between ages 62 and 70.

Online calculators can compare payouts, but they don't always factor in variables such as changing life expectancies or spousal or survivor benefits. Without those additional considerations, you may not end up with the optimal recommendation for your situation.

Schedule an old-fashioned sit-down with us to discuss the scenarios.