Medical insurance is another consideration. Although you can collect retirement benefits as early as 62, the government's Medicare program doesn't kick in until 65. Unless your employer provides retiree health coverage you will have to make provisions on your own or keep working to keep coverage. Some analysts say people who retire early and don't need Social Security benefits to live on may nevertheless take them early to pay for insurance until Medicare begins.
Some experts warn about the long-term effects of early benefits. Because benefits are indexed for inflation, waiting provides a bigger base upon which future adjustments will be made and thus provides extra dollars, notes Ethan Kra, a retirement actuary at consultant William M. Mercer Inc. Alicia Munnell, a former government economist and now a finance professor at Boston College, cautions that taking a reduced benefit could squeeze your spouse--especially if younger--when he or she survives you and gets benefits based on your account.
Like Ida May, that first Social Security recipient, some get benefits for many years, so waiting can pay.
Someone turning 62 next year can get a bigger monthly check by waiting to apply: