If you can’t wait until 70, this is the next best age to claim Social Security benefits

Single Social Security claimants who want to hold off until age 70, but find they can’t quite wait any longer should select age 69 for the best trade off, Jones said.

That sacrifice may be as little as a few thousand extra dollars in additional lifetime benefits in exchange for starting a year earlier, according to Jones.

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“If you’re single, we’ll tell you you should wait until 70,” Jones said. “It is generally preferable to do so. But it’s not quite as critical as it is going from 66 to 67, or 67 to 68.”

If you’re approaching your late 60s, the decision as to when to start your benefits comes down to one key question: how long you expect to live, said Jason Scott, managing director of JS Consulting, who has researched this and other topics on Social Security.

“If you’re employed and thinking about these things, you’re probably healthier than average,” Scott said. “If you’re not and you’re delaying it and trying to maximize the benefit, maybe you’re more average. There are pretty strong clues as to whether you’re above average in terms of life expectancy.”

In addition to employment, look to your parents health, your income and your health history. Individuals who are in the top quartile for income tend to live longer, Scott said. Bad health habits, such as smoking, have the opposite effect.

“There might be some hints as to these kinds of things that people may not realize are strong signals of good health relative to average,” Scott said.

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