15 Signs You Could Wait Until 70 to Take the Social Security Maximum

Waiting for the maximum could pay off in the following circumstances.

senior couple reviewing bills at home
Updated July 11, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

There are plenty of reasons to wait until you turn 70 to start claiming your full Social Security benefit. 

Most importantly, the longer you wait to take the full benefit, the bigger your future monthly Social Security payments will be — which can make delaying benefits a solid financial strategy for some retirees.

But are you able to get ahead financially enough to afford to delay taking Social Security, or should you start claiming it as soon as you qualify?

Let’s walk through 15 key signs that you can postpone taking benefits without compromising your retirement budget.

Eliminate your late tax debt

Each year, the IRS forgives millions in unpaid taxes. If you have more than $10,000 in tax debt, or have 3+ years of unfiled taxes, you could get forgiveness too. You might be eligible to lower the amount you owe, or eliminate your tax debt completely.

Easy Tax Relief could help you lower or get out of your tax debt for good. They’re well respected in the industry and have been recognized for their ethical standards when dealing with tax debt. While most tax companies just put you on a payment plan and file your taxes for you, Easy Tax Relief talks to the IRS directly. They can help you pay off your tax debt faster while potentially reducing what you owe.

Important: Not everyone will qualify. To take advantage of this special program you must owe more than $10,000 in past-due taxes.

Fill out this form to get started

You have enough savings to tide you over

Prostock-studio/Adobe Senior Gentleman Calculating Taxes

Depending on how much money you’ve saved for retirement thus far, you might not need the monthly income boost you’ll get from Social Security payments.

If you have enough money to live comfortably between the day you retire and begin collecting Social Security, postponing full benefits can ensure you’ll have more money down the road when your budget really needs the boost. 

You just have to stay on top of your budget and avoid wasting money.

You plan to work at least until you turn 70

Maria Vitkovska/Adobe CEO wearing stylish eyeglasses

Do you already have a regular source of income? Are you planning to keep your current job until you turn 70?

Since you still receive a regular paycheck, you might consider postponing your benefit collection until you leave the workforce. That way, you’ll start receiving another source of income to partially compensate for your lost paycheck right away.

You aren’t supporting any dependents

Prostock-studio/Adobe Couple watching TV

Taking care of kids and grandkids takes a bite out of your budget. If you’re supporting one or more dependents, you might consider taking your full benefit now so you can put some of it toward keeping your finances afloat until your dependents are older.

On the other hand, if you don’t have any dependents — or if you can comfortably support yourself and your dependents on your current income — consider waiting to take the maximum benefit.

Earn $200 cash rewards bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card(Rates and fees) has no annual fee and you can earn $200 after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.

The Active Cash Card puts cash back into your wallet. Cardholders can earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases — easy! That's one of the best cash rewards options available.

This card also offers an intro APR of 0% for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable). Which is great for someone who wants a break from high interest rates, while still earning rewards.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

You haven’t taken on too much debt

fizkes/Adobe middle aged family spouses

Some types of debt, such as mortgage loans, are simply unavoidable. 

If you have a fair debt-to-income ratio and are confident you can comfortably make payments from now until age 70, you might be in good enough financial shape to push back your benefits.

You can comfortably avoid consumer debt over the next decade

Fabio/Adobe Happy laughing older married couple talking

While you don’t necessarily need to enter retirement debt-free, some types of debt are more manageable than others once you’ve left the workforce. 

Since credit cards have high interest rates, consumer debt can quickly spiral out of hand if you don’t pay off your card balance every month.

If you don’t have much (or any) credit card debt right now and have enough money saved to avoid taking on more, that’s a good sign you can wait until later to take your maximum Social Security benefits.

Your house is paid off

Zamrznuti tonovi/Adobe Happy and relaxed senior couple sitting at table in their lounge and gladly looking at the blue prints of their new home

Many people continue working to pay off a mortgage well into their 60s, so don’t worry too much if you’re still making a monthly mortgage payment.

However, if you have paid off your house and no longer have major housing expenses, you can probably delay taking your Social Security benefit right now.

You don’t have any immediate plans to move

Monkey Business/Adobe Senior couple sitting on sofa

If you’re planning to sell your house soon, you might need a bit of extra cash to help with your down payment and moving expenses. If that describes your situation, you could consider taking your Social Security benefits earlier rather than later.

On the other hand, if you’re happy with your current living situation and can make your monthly mortgage payment without too much financial stress, putting off Social Security benefits until later might make more sense.

You’ve already downsized into a smaller home

Prostock-studio/Adobe Happy senior couple holding opened door

There’s one exception to the general rule about not having immediate plans to move: if you’re downsizing. Downsizing can help offset moving costs, especially if you stay in the same area with the same cost of living. 

If you started downsizing before you retired, you can likely still plan on moving without applying for your full benefits before age 70. The same goes for if you already have the savings in place to pay for moving and expect to turn a profit on the sale of your house.

You’re the higher-earning spouse of a retirement-age couple

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe Senior couple enjoying book on vacation

If you and your spouse both worked, it’s smart to coordinate the timing of taking your Social Security benefits.

Since the lower-earning spouse will receive a lower Social Security benefit, they might consider claiming their benefits earlier to boost the household income. 

The higher-earning spouse can then delay claiming their benefits, maximizing the eventual size of the monthly Social Security payment they receive.

Earn potentially $1,000s for basically free by opening this account as early as possible in life

You can turn your existing money into even more money, by basically doing nothing. Yes, it sounds insane. But it’s true — and it all depends on how early in life you open a high yield savings account.

The NexBank high yield savings account offers a rare 5.26% APY1— compare that to the national average APY of 0.45% (as of 7/02/24). This could be worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars in practically passive income.

This is all thanks to compound interest — the earlier in life you start putting money into this type of account, the more you can earn over time. As Ben Franklin put it, “Money makes money. And the money that money makes, makes money.” Bam.

Let’s say you put $50,000 into a high yield account at 5.00% APY at 30-years-old. Then, you contribute $5,000 a year, every year, until age 50. With interest compounding daily at that rate, you’d walk away with $303,466.67! But … if you start at age 45, you’d only have $91,898.37.

Open an account today — the sooner, the better. NexBank is powered by Raisin's savings marketplace, there are NO fees, and you can withdraw your money whenever you need it. Plus, with FDIC insurance, NexBank provides a more secure online banking experience and a safer place to store your extra cash.

Limited Time Bonus: Earn up to $2,000 when you refer friends and family to Raisin. Visit site to learn more.

Click here to open a NexBank high yield savings account

You know your expenses will decrease after retirement

Monkey Business/Adobe retired couple sitting on bench

According to many financial experts, you should plan on needing 70% to 75% of your current income to maintain a similar quality of life in retirement.

This amount is based on the idea that you should have fewer expenses once you’re retired. For instance, you’ll have fewer dependents, your mortgage might be paid off, and you won’t need to spend the same on transportation getting to and from work.

However, not everyone’s expenses decrease after retirement, such as those who retire to an area with a higher cost of living or who continue to support dependents. If you’re fairly certain your expenses will decrease, you may be able to wait until later to claim your benefits.

You’re a frugal spender

Mnica/Adobe mature man washing dishes

If you budget carefully and spend less than you earn, it’s less likely that you’ll need to supplement your savings with Social Security early on in retirement. However, you should base this assumption on your established spending habits, not aspirational ones.

Put another way, if you haven’t stuck to a budget up to this point in your life, don’t expect yourself to change overnight. 

However, if you’ve maintained a consistent pattern of spending within your means and are confident you can continue to do so in retirement, consider waiting on Social Security benefits.

You’ve already saved eight times your annual income

shurkin_son/Adobe woman pensioner studying Spanish

As a general financial rule of thumb, it’s smart to have eight times your average annual income saved by age 60.

If you’ve already hit that savings milestone — and if your expenses will go down in retirement while your frugal spending habits stay the same — that’s a good sign that you should be fine waiting until age 70 to claim your full Social Security benefit.

You exercise frequently and eat a balanced diet

ronnarong/Adobe Man doing exercise with dumbbells

While there’s no way to know how much time is left in your life, being active and eating healthily can increase your chances of living to age 70 and beyond.

If you’re in relatively good shape, that might be a good sign that you can at least consider delaying benefits for now. 

After all, waiting to claim the full Social Security benefit makes the most financial sense for individuals who will need a stable source of income for several decades.

You don’t have any major, ongoing health concerns

Srdjan/Adobe grandfather man in wireless headphones dancing

Health care is one of the top expenses for seniors. 

While you obviously can’t predict what could happen to your health down the line, it’s a good sign for your finances right now if you don’t yet have major medical issues that will require you to spend a lot of money out of pocket.

You plan to pick up other sources of income after retiring

makibestphoto/Adobe female designer naming packages at warehouse

If you plan to make extra money through freelance work once you retire, you might have enough money in the bank that you’ll be fine without a Social Security check for now.

Plenty of gig jobs, from food delivery to freelance editing, are ideal for seniors who have recently left the workforce, have some extra time, and want to supplement their savings with part-time employment.

Bottom line

goodluz/Adobe Senior couple meeting financial advisor

While these guidelines can help you start considering delaying Social Security benefits, your accountant, financial advisor, or retirement planner can make more personalized recommendations that are appropriate for your specific situation.

Whether you delay your benefits or not, prioritize spending wisely so that whenever you do start receiving the full benefit, you can put it toward preserving your pre-retirement quality of life. 

And be sure to keep an emergency fund in a high-yield savings account to be sure you are making your money work for you.

Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards


Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Current Offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee


Rewards Rate

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.