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CNN Money: The Social Security mistake that costs retirees thousands - Friday, August 09, 2013

After decades of paying into the Social Security system, many retirees are eager to start collecting that monthly check as soon as possible. But that can be a costly mistake.

While you're allowed to start claiming Social Security benefits at age 62, holding off for several years can add thousands of dollars to your payments over a lifetime. That's because you don't qualify for all of your earned benefits until you reach "full retirement age," which is 66 for most Baby Boomers and 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

So checks claimed at age 62 are about 25% smaller than if you wait until your full retirement age. And if you wait even longer, your annual benefits will grow by another 8% for each year you wait up to age 70.

For example, let's say 61-year-old Mary, who currently earns $55,000, is deciding when to retire. If she were to file for Social Security benefits next year at 62, she would receive around $15,400 a year, according to T. Rowe Price's Social Security benefits evaluator. If she waits until 66, however, her annual benefits would grow to around $20,500 per year. And if she is able to hold off for several more years, until age 70, her annual benefits would climb to roughly $27,100 per year. 

The difference can really add up. If Mary lives to be 95 years old, claiming her benefits at age 70 would result in roughly $677,000 in cumulative Social Security benefits (in today's dollars), compared to the $500,000 or so in benefits that she would receive if she'd filed eight years earlier.

Read the whole story from CNN Money here.