Frank Legan Advisors at Cedar Brook Group

What to Think About When Claiming Social Security Benefits

By Dayna Smith

Americans have flexibility regarding when to begin claiming Social Security benefits. There are pros and cons to taking your benefits sooner versus later, so there’s no one “right” age at which to begin. 

If you choose to claim your benefits before full retirement age, you’ll receive a smaller amount each month for a longer period of time. Taking your benefits at your full retirement age means you’ll receive a larger amount each month for a shorter period of time. You may find it’s a good idea for you financially to claim your Social Security benefits before your full retirement age. You can start your benefits at age 62; if you are the wage earner, you’ll receive 70.0% of your full allotment. Recent research tells us that American workers aged 45 to 62 would benefit from waiting until after age 65 to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits. 

Are you already overwhelmed? To help break things down, we will highlight some key areas to consider when planning your Social Security withdrawals.

Maximize Your Earnings

Waiting until your full retirement age to claim Social Security benefits allows you to maximize your earnings. Working consistently up until retirement age earns you the highest benefit amount once you start claiming. With this plan, you can receive the most amount possible from Social Security. Therefore, you’ll be potentially improving your financial situation during retirement. According to recent research, the most optimal age to claim Social Security is age 70. The benefits amount to 76% higher than if you claimed benefits at age 62.

One important point to note is that any income earned after age 60 is not indexed when determining your benefit amount. Indexing is how Social Security figures your top 35 years of earnings. This practice benefits people who go back to work after a hiatus, such as after raising children. 

Claiming Spousal Benefits

When you claim your Social Security benefits, your spouse may become eligible as well. Your spouse must be at least age 62 or have a qualifying child under age 16 who receives Social Security disability benefits. If your spouse qualifies for a retirement benefit based on their individual earnings, and that benefit exceeds the spousal benefit, Social Security will provide the retirement benefit. However, if the spousal benefit is higher, they will provide the spousal benefit instead. 

If you were married for at least 10 years and then got divorced, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex spouse’s earnings. If an ex-spouse claims benefits at full retirement age, the amount received will be equal to one half of the ex-spouse’s full retirement benefit. 

If you are a surviving spouse, you can collect 100% of your late spouse’s benefit if you wait until your full retirement age. You do need to have been married to the deceased spouse for at least nine months. You can start receiving survivor benefits as early as age 60 at a reduced amount. If you wait until your full retirement age, you’ll receive the full survivor benefits. 

Social Security Tax

If you are claiming your Social Security benefits and go back to work, there will be tax implications. You have to pay federal income tax at the rate of between 50% to 85% of your Social Security benefits, depending on your income or your combined income with your spouse. Every January you will receive a Social Security benefit statement (Form SSA 1099) that provides information about the benefits you received in the previous year. This statement is helpful when you’re preparing your federal income tax return to determine if your benefits are taxable. Don’t worry, we can help you with navigating this tax situation! 

How We Can Help

Cedar Brook Financial is here to help you make sense of all the rules and policies regarding your Social Security retirement benefits. We know it can be daunting to parse the ins and outs of the regulations. We have helped many others just like you make smart decisions for the future. We would love to get to know you to help get you where you want to go. 

Reach out to us at 440-683-9213 or or schedule a complimentary introductory call online!


Securities offered through Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Advisor and member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc. and Cedar Brook Group, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Cadaret, Grant & Co. and Cedar Brook are separate entities. Please remember that securities cannot be purchased, sold or traded via e-mail or voice message system. Please contact our office at 440.683.9213 should you need assistance in placing a trade. This email transmission and any documents, files or previous email messages attached to it may contain information that is confidential or legally privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that you must not read this transmission and that any disclosure, copying, printing, distribution, or any action or omission of this transmission is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please immediately notify the sender by telephone at 440.683.9213 or return and delete the original transmission and its attachments without reading or saving in any manner.

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About Dayna Smith

Dayna Smith 2 (1) (1)

Dayna Smith is a Partner and Financial Advisor at Cedar Brook Group, one of the largest independent wealth management firms in Northeast Ohio. Dayna is passionate about making a difference in her clients’ lives, providing organization, clarity, and customized solutions so her clients can pursue both their short-term and long-term goals.

Renowned for her unparalleled commitment, Dayna goes above and beyond, pouring her heart and soul into safeguarding her clients’ wealth and supporting them every step of the way. Guided by The Humanity Factor, she delves deep into her clients’ values, aspirations, concerns, and needs, paving the way for a solid foundation on which they can build a prosperous future.

Dayna’s illustrious career began with a passion for education, earning a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in Education with a minor in English. Her journey in the non-profit sector instilled a strong sense of stewardship for all, further fueling her desire to positively impact the lives of others. Prior to her role at Cedar Brook Group, she gained valuable experience while employed at another esteemed financial services firm in the Cleveland area. Complementing her wealth of experience, Dayna holds vital licenses, including FINRA Series 7 and 66, as well as an Ohio life, health, and variable annuities license.

When she’s not making a difference in her clients’ lives, you can find Dayna spending time with her husband and young children, who take up much of her time! Dayna belongs to Holy Angels Parish and enjoys working out, baking and spending time with family and friends. To learn more about Dayna, connect with her on LinkedIn.

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