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No. 2: Time Social Security
No. 2: Decide when to take Social Security | DigitalVision/Getty Images

No. 2: Time Social Security

The decision about when to take Social Security is tricky, especially for couples. There can be a major benefit to delaying benefits at least until full retirement age -- between 65 and 67, depending on your year of birth. But some retirees who are forced to retire earlier than planned may need to take it as early as 62.

"Know your Social Security benefit at key ages, such as your full retirement age and at age 70, and consider whether it makes sense to wait and receive the much higher benefit available at age 70," says Paul T. Murray, president of PTM Wealth Management in Chalfont, Pennsylvania. The Social Security Administration's website offers calculators that help with the decision-making process and show the impact of retiring at various ages on your monthly benefit.

If you're married and at full retirement age, you may have the option to file and suspend -- apply for benefits, and then ask that payments be suspended so that your spouse can receive a spousal benefit while you earn additional retirement credits up to age 70 -- but that strategy was discontinued this year.

You must apply for Social Security benefits 3 months in advance of when you want to begin receiving them, says Tayne.


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