If you happen to be near a Texas Roadhouse (and there’s 300 locations in 44 states from which to choose) on any Monday to Friday from 3:00PM – 6:00PM, you can enjoy their Early Bird Special. That’s two hand-cut USDA Choice 8oz. sirloins and 4 made-from-scratch side items – all for only $16.99. Pretty good deal, and you don’t even have to be a senior citizen to take advantage of it.

Folks joke about these early bird specials at restaurants and the geriatric crowd they attract. But the Social Security "early bird special" is no joke if you happen to be one of the oldest baby boomers who are turning 62 this year. That "early bird special" is when you can start taking retirement benefits at this earliest eligibility age.

And about 50% of the Social Security eligibles are expected to claim their benefits as soon as they resulting in an estimated 25% reduction in benefits compared to waiting until full retirement age. If you’re a single male, then your decision only affects you. But if you’re married and have been the primary wage earner, then your decision to take early Social Security benefits can result in a reduction in your wife’s survivor benefits.

It’s a serious matter, and goes beyond the pop psychology of Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus. Recent academic research has focused on Why Do Married Men Claim Social Security Benefits So Early? Ignorance or Caddishness? I’m pleased to report on behalf of my gender that the reason was neither. Here’s how the researcher phrased it: 

Regression results found no association between early claiming and caddishness or the ability of husbands to make claiming decisions independently. The one statistically significant finding is the association of college education and later claiming, which cautiously take to indicate greater financial awareness.

It’s a public policy issue that needs addressing. It’s not going to happen overnight. So if you’re a married man eligible for Social Security (or for that matter anyone who is eligible), don’t make this important decision on your own. There are qualified financial professional out there who can help.