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Social Security benefit election is perhaps the most important election you will vote on in retirement. With the Bipartisan Budget Act passed in the fall, some Social Security spousal benefit options changed. One of those grandfather provisions recently expired for individuals 66 or older by April 29 and who weren’t already drawing Social Security. That’s not available anymore, so how do we move forward?

There are still benefits to waiting. When you delay, you get an 8 percent per year increase in your benefit from age 66 to 70. They’re called delayed credits. However, when you draw early, it is reduced by little over 6 percent per year. If you draw at 62 instead of 66, your benefit is reduced 25 percent. If your full retirement age is 67 – for those of you born 1960 or later – at 62 your benefit is reduced 30 percent.

Remember, this isn’t just about figuring out how you can make the most amount of money. We don’t know when we are going to die. It’s about protecting your retirement lifestyle and making sure you don’t outlive your money. It’s very much risk management.

You also need to consider whether you can afford to wait with such things as Medicare and premium increases. It’s not an easy decision, and it’s not a one size fits all. It should be an integral part of your retirement income and investment plan.

Restricted spousal application is still available if you were born Jan. 1, 1954 or earlier. If your spouse is drawing Social Security and you wait until you are 66, you can draw a spousal benefit which is one-half of your spouses without affecting your own benefit.

For example, if my wife files and is drawing, then at 66, I can draw a spousal benefit on her. I get half of her full benefit and then my benefit continues to increase 8 percent per year from age 66 to age 70.  Your benefit will still go up to the maximum at age 70. That is a powerful filing strategy for many people.

Determining how to file is a critical component of your retirement planning. Don’t overlook it. You still have tremendous opportunities to get the absolute most that you’re entitled to from Social Security.