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About 40% of retirees apply for Social Security as soon as they become eligible at age 62. But by doing so, they may significantly and permanently reduce the benefits that they-and possibly their spouses-could receive over a lifetime. Source: SSA, 2015. Social Security provides not only a guaranteed income stream but also longevity protection, spousal protection, and some inflation protection. It may be the closest thing you receive to a traditional pension. There may be ways to maximize the lifetime Social Security benefits you receive.