Retirement mistake no. 10: Taking Social Security too soon

Retirement mistake #10 is taking Social Security too soon.

You can start receiving your Social Security benefits once you've celebrated your 62nd birthday. Just contact the Social Security office.

For many men, this is a no-brainer. The money is there. Why not take it?

Sometimes you have no choice. If you need the money to live, or are in poor health, you don't have the option of delaying payments.

For those who do, there are some excellent reasons to wait.

Women traditionally earn less than men, although that's changing rapidly. Women also live longer than men, which means they may be dependent on the Social Security payments they receive after the death of their spouse. Seven out of every 10 beneficiaries of Social Security over the age of 85 are women. Social Security makes up more than 53 percent of their income. For most women, this benefit would be higher if the husband waited and did not take the earlier, reduced Social Security benefit.

Some 20 percent of single elderly women are impoverished.

I hear men tell their wives all the time how much they love them. If you mean it, and you can afford to wait, delay taking your Social Security payments until you qualify for the full retirement benefit.

See all ten of the biggest money mistakes a retiree can make.

Dan Solin is the author of the newly published book, The Smartest Retirement Book You'll Ever Read (Perigee Books 2009). His prior books include the New York Times bestsellers, The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read and The Smartest 401(k) Book You'll Ever Read. See SmartestInvestmentBook.com. Read more about Dan Solin.

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