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Should you apply for Social Security benefits at age 62? I’m Barbara Whelehan with the Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

The decision on when to begin drawing Social Security benefits is a personal one. If your health is compromised or you lost your job, it may be necessary to begin drawing benefits at your earliest opportunity, which generally is age 62. But if you’re healthy and you enjoy working, it behooves you to consider delaying benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, if you live to the average life expectancy, your lifetime benefits will be about the same no matter when you begin receiving benefits. So naturally, if you start early, the amount you get will be reduced because you’ll be drawing benefits longer than if you wait.

For example, let’s say you’re entitled to $1,000 at age 66 when you reach full retirement age. At age 62, your benefit amount would be $750. If you wait to age 70, your benefit amount would be $1,320.

Your decision depends on a number of factors, such as whether longevity runs in your family and how much money you have saved up for retirement. After all, Social Security isn’t intended to replace the income you make in your working years. It’s supposed to prevent you from falling into poverty.

For more information about Social Security and retirement, visit Bankrate.com. I’m Barbara Whelehan.