Social Security – Should you bet that your life will be short?

Yes, you might get less over your lifetime if you claim later

Monthly benefits are set so that lifetime benefits are much the same no matter when the average person starts to collect Social Security.

– If you’re in poor health and unlikely to live as long as the average person, you’ll probably get less, over your lifetime, the later you claim. (That’s because you probably won’t get the highter monthly benefit long enough to make up for starting later).

But note: many whose health is poor still outlive the “average person”.

Should you bet that your life will be short?

No one really knows how long they will live. But if you health is OK, you’ll probably outlive the average person. If you’re married and both in good health, the odds are even greater that you or your spouse outlives the average person.


The cost could be quite high if you lose the bet and live “too long”. If blessed with long life, you might barely scrape by in your 80’s.

© 2009, by Trustees of Boston College, Center for Retirement Research

Does not represent the Social Security Administration.

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