Many clients and friends ask my guidance about Social Security – particularly the question of whether they should claim their benefits early or late. I have crunched the numbers. And I have not come up with a one-size-fits-all answer – because there isn’t one.

It turns out the best way for you to get the most from Social Security may not be the best way for your neighbor, colleague, friend or even your spouse. Add Social Security to the list of topics you discuss with family over the holidays. You will find more opinions about when to start taking benefits than you do about qualities of the best dessert.

It’s not one or the other

If you do research on your own, you will quickly find articles that want to push you in one direction or the other. One will remind you that less than 5% of retirees wait until the maximum age of 70 to collect their benefits. Those who take their benefits at or before their “full” retirement age leave trillions of dollars on the table. The authors of those articles make you feel stupid if you claim “early.”