Social Security is all about timing.
The earliest you can claim your retirement benefits is 62, and more than 40 percent of workers opt to begin receiving checks at that time. However, a growing number are waiting until their mid-60s or later, according to Boston College's Center for Retirement Research.
"This is an earned benefit, and you should take it when you want to take it," said Nancy Altman, co-director of the nonprofit Social Security Works.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach in deciding when to collect, she said.
If you do claim at 62, your payout will be 25 percent less than if you waited for what the Social Security Administration calls your full retirement age, which is 66 or 67 depending on the year you were born.
The general rule of thumb is to wait as long as you can. However, there are instances where you shouldn't delay taking that check.