By Jim Donovan

Jim Donovan reports…

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The recent ups and downs of the stock market have many people worried about their investments and even more people wondering if they’ll ever be able to retire.

As Congress tackles the problems with funding the future of Social Security, CBS 3 consumer reporter Jim Donovan has some simple rules of thumb on when to tap into your benefits.

While you can start taking benefits as early as age 62, many experts advise that you wait as long as possible to sign up.

Social Security just turned 75 years old. For many Americans, it’s the only safety net they have.

In fact, almost 30 % of workers have less than $1,000 dollars in retirement savings.

The average monthly Social Security check is $1,100 dollars. But it all hinges on when you tap the benefits.

Freelance filmmaker Felicia Lowe recently signed up for Social Security benefits at age 64.

“In my instance where I don’t have a regular gig, it seems to make a little bit of difference whether I start it now or waiting another 2 or 3 years,” said Lowe.

But according to finance expert Steve Vernon, the difference could be significant.

“For every year you delay taking social security beyond age 66, that income is increased by 8%,” said Vernon.

But there are some cases when waiting to take benefits could hurt you.

“It doesn’t make sense to wait to take benefits until beyond age 70, because your benefits aren’t increased for that. The other circumstance where it doesn’t make sense to wait is if you’re in poor health, or if you are truly desperate and you have no income,” said Vernon.

To see how much your Social Security payments will change depending on what year you file for benefits, visit the AARP Social Security calculator, click here.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS3

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