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Know the facts before you claim

Know the facts before you claim

(NAPS)-One of the most important retirement-related decisions a person will make is when to claim Social Security benefits. It is a complex, personal decision that is influenced by many factors such as one's health, work status, marital status and standard of _living.
Changes in the retirement security landscape have only added to the importance of the claiming decision. With the shift from traditional employer-managed pension plans to employee-managed set-aside plans, individuals bear more responsibility for ensuring their own financial security in retirement.
Research shows that many older people are concerned about retirement because they do not feel prepared. The Government Accountability Office has noted that the prospect of outliving their resources is weighing on many retirees. It notes that experts recommend delaying Social Security benefits as a strategy for increasing retirement income.
In these difficult economic times, however, many people don't wait to claim their Social Security benefits. In fact, 83 percent of all retired worker benefits awarded in 2009 were claimed before the full retirement age.
For many, Social Security provides a lifeline, something people can count on to help pay the bills. In fact, Social Security is the principal source of family income for nearly half of older Americans. Nearly a quarter rely on it for 90 percent or more of their family income. Social Security is the one constant in most people's retirement planning.
Timing is key to getting the most out of Social Security benefits. No one age is right for everyone, and while some people simply cannot wait to claim their benefits, many Americans claim early, not realizing what they might gain by waiting.
Fortunately, there are many practical and freely available resources that can help with claiming Social Security and retirement planning in general. One popular resource is AARP's Social Security Benefits Calculator, which can help you assess your circumstances and compare estimated benefit scenarios.
Of course, Social Security is just one piece of the retirement security puzzle. The calculator is part of a suite of AARP resources designed to give people a complete picture of what retirement actually means for them and what they need to do financially to ensure peace of mind.
Learn more about the Social Security Benefits Calculator and other retirement-planning tools at

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