Over at the Huffington Post, Tom Sightings gives four reasons why, contrary to common advice, you might want to claim benefits before the full retirement age of 66 (followed by my comments):
You need the money: Yes, if you need the money more at age 62 than you will at ages 72, 82 or 92, then by all means claim early. But there are fewer of those people than you’d think.
You’re in poor health: If you’re single and you KNOW you won’t be living that long, then claim early. But even for groups with known short average life expectancies – say, African-American males – there’s a ton of variation in life spans, and a higher Social Security benefit protects against outliving your assets. Moreover, if you have a spouse retiring later will provide her with a higher survivors benefit once you’re gone. You might want to delay retirement even if you know you won’t live past the average life expectancy.
You’re a financial genius: Delaying Social Security benefits gives you a guaranteed return on your money. By claiming early, you can invest that cash and maybe do better. Maybe.
If benefits change: This one is basically just wrong. First, Social Security reform is unlikely to substantially effect current retirees. And second, to the degree it does – say, by reducing COLAs – claiming early won’t exempt you. In fact, if you think COLAs might be cut that’s a reason to put off retirement, not claim earlier.