If you're eligible to receive Social Security benefits, you've been paying into the system through reductions of your pay over a number of years. So there really isn't "free money" when it comes to Social Security. There are ways, however, to maximize your Social Security benefits and smart strategies to help claim your benefits.
Taking Social Security early can be a costly mistake. Many factors such as the amount of money you've saved, tax treatment of your investment accounts, other retirement income sources and your health should all be considered in determining when to take Social Security. When you take Social Security too early you will see a reduction in the amount paid to you had you otherwise waited until your full retirement age, or longer. If you have no other sources of income or limited savings, it still may make sense to take benefits as soon as able. It is best to run the numbers and consider all factors that would impact your overall financial planning. To help you run some numbers, a helpful calculator is available at whentofiless.com. The system will email you a report with a suggested claiming strategy for just you and/or you and your spouse.
In an article I wrote for the San Diego Union Tribune last year, I highlighted 2 ways to maximize Social Security benefits.
Hope that helps.