Choosing when to claim your Social Security benefits is an important retirement-planning decision. It’s also one of the trickiest.

There’s a big gap between what consumers think they know about Social Security retirement benefits and what they actually know, according to a survey by AARP.

The survey found that only 1 percent of financial planners believe their clients are “very knowledgeable” about how their Social Security benefits will be determined. A lack of knowledge could cause you to miss benefits you deserve.

Here are some areas where the knowledge gap is most evident:

  • 39 percent of consumers believe Social Security will provide at least half of their retirement income. In fact, that will be true for nearly twice as many retirees, according to AARP.
  • 67 percent underestimate the value of waiting until Full Retirement Age to start receiving benefits. (For every year you wait after reaching FRA, your benefit rises 8 percent until you reach age 70, after which increases stop.)
  • 80 percent of those who have ever been married don’t know the best way to maximize survivor benefits for their spouse. (You should wait until age 70 to claim benefits.) And 74 percent of these folks didn’t know that they need to have been married for at least 10 years to collect spousal benefits if divorced.
  • 39 percent didn’t know they can start to receive Social Security retirement benefits at age 62.

Part of the reason people are so misinformed about Social Security benefits is the source of their information: Nearly half rely on family and friends. Please don’t make this mistake. Let us help you make your Social Security decisions. Making the wrong one can cost you a lot of money.