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bee0hio

When to take Social Security?

12 years ago

62... 66... 70?? For those of you who are approaching the "age of decision" there are many very important considerations.

Here is an very, very informative video that explains various options & considerations that people may not be aware of.

Just a few of the important points discussed:

- You might get an INCORRECT answer @ the SS office... so YOU need to be knowledgeable about all the different options you have. Then, if you go outside the typical filer & get told "no", you'll need to speak to a supervisor & on up the chain of command. I had ask a question recently & thought I knew the answer, but was told "no, you can't do that". Now... I know I can.

- If you filed for SS less than a year ago & now realize "Oh, no, I should have waited until I am x-age", it may be possible to reverse that decision.

- If you have an ex spouse & are unmarried, you can file on the ex's SS history, if it is to your benefit, as long as you & he(she) had been married 10 yrs. Doesn't matter if he is remarried & new wife is receiving his SS too, or if he is dead.

But there are some really interesting considerations of having one spouse wait until 70 to file, yet file for spousal benefits (50%) from the other spouse's earnings history. You have to listen & delve into it more than I could explain here.

There is NO ONE WAY that is BEST answer as to what age to file for SS. What works for me, might not be appropriate for you. Health & other financial considerations are 2 things that enter the picture.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to maximize your Social Security benefits

Comments (44)

  • 12 years ago

    62, and as soon as my ex, I'm his third, has "left" I plan to use his benefits. Was told that when I filed for my SS.

  • 12 years ago

    No question for me: presuming good health I plan to wait until age 70 to take SS for the 32% enhanced benefits. Women are long lived in my family and the extra amount would provide a great deal of old age security.

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  • 12 years ago

    Another thing to take into account if you are or become a widow.
    A surviving spouse can collect 70% of late spouse's SS benefit at age 59, and continue working. Then, each year after you get to the minimum age to collect on your own earnings - keep checking the difference between his or yours.
    If you reach the point where your benefit is more than his, start thinking about dropping his and collecting yours

  • 12 years ago

    I took mine at 62. I don't mean for this to become political but there will probably be some big changes in SS soon which they say will not affect people already on it. Who knows what the changes may be. They may raise the age limit again or they may cut out the fact you can get it at 62. One never knows.

  • 12 years ago

    The fact is, Social Security is designed so that if you live what SS considered a normal lifespan, you'll get about the same amount, no matter when you start taking it--it will just be split up differently. Now obviously everyone doesn't live to the same age, so you do have to guess what's best for you.

    We're at that juncture right now. As a matter of fact, DH just mentioned calling SS to set up his appt. when I was typing the first paragraph.

    We're grabbing what we can at age 62. Why? I've done the math. If we wait until 66, we'll be well into our 70's before we start making a profit. Who knows how long each of us is going to live--one former coworker of DH's retired at 62, took his SS and now, just a couple of years later is fighting cancer--and not sure he's going to live to see 66. Big issue for me is what Patti mentioned. There will be changes. Who knows when, or what? But those who are already on the roles have a better chance of being 'grandfathered' in. And even if they aren't? I figure at least I'll have a couple of years worth of payments in my pocket.

    I personally cannot see any wisdom in waithing--not from a math standpoint, and certainly not from a 'safety' standpoint.

    But it's still a decision everyone has to make for themselves. Certainly more information is better than little.

  • 12 years ago

    The fact is, Social Security is designed so that if you live what SS considered a normal lifespan, you'll get about the same amount, no matter when you start taking it--it will just be split up differently. Now obviously everyone doesn't live to the same age, so you do have to guess what's best for you.

    We're at that juncture right now. As a matter of fact, DH just mentioned calling SS to set up his appt. when I was typing the first paragraph.

    We're grabbing what we can at age 62. Why? I've done the math. If we wait until 66, we'll be well into our 70's before we start making a profit. Who knows how long each of us is going to live--one former coworker of DH's retired at 62, took his SS and now, just a couple of years later is fighting cancer--and not sure he's going to live to see 66. Big issue for me is what Patti mentioned. There will be changes. Who knows when, or what? But those who are already on the roles have a better chance of being 'grandfathered' in. And even if they aren't? I figure at least I'll have a couple of years worth of payments in my pocket.

    I personally cannot see any wisdom in waithing--not from a math standpoint, and certainly not from a 'safety' standpoint.

    But it's still a decision everyone has to make for themselves. Certainly more information is better than little.

  • 12 years ago

    Keep in mind that if you start collection SS and are still working, your benefits will be reduced somewhat until you reach a certain age (70?) My husband has no intention of retiring, even tho he turns 65 this year. He'll wait and collect when he gets max payment. OTOH, I was already "retired" so I started collecting at age 63.

  • 12 years ago

    For us it was 62. My hubby worked 43 years at GM and he was ready. We had planned for a long time.. We lived on what we would be bringing in for a year before he retired so we were used to it. We have always lived a simple life as long as we have been married. I think this helped in the long run.. Being in debt and retirement doesn't go well together We made sure we were debt free for many years before retirement. My hubby worked with a guy that retired just before he did. The guy was up on a ladder and fell off and died. He never drew on retirement check. I wanted my hubby to enjoy being retired.

    There are so many factors that decide when to retire for any one person. What was good for us may not be the right thing for you. Set down and do some figuring. I'm sure the decision you make will be the right one. Enjoy.......

  • 12 years ago

    In order to qualify for an ex's benefit, yours has to be less than half of his.

  • 12 years ago

    And there's one more thing to consider--which, I realize can vary from family to family.

    As I said, we're right now turning 62 (my birthday was this past weekend, DH's is next week). I've added it up--his pension, plus his SS, plus my SS, plus a little annuity I was left by my aunt comes out to MORE than he makes per year when he works. (note, I don't work, my SS is from back in the days before my daughter was born).

    There's simply no fiscal sense in him continuing to work, commuting 2.5 hours a day, at a cost of $15 per day, to make LESS than he can by retiring. I simply cannot see any advantage to him continuing to work (especially since his company has pulled a fast one and pretty much capped their pensions at this point). AND if he wants, he can work parttime and add almost $15,000---which would put us way over what he'd be making if he didn't retire.

    Basically, each family needs to do the math, figure out what they'll be getting if they retire, what's the most advantageous for them. Definitely depends upon your own situation. The sad thing is, our children will never have this discussion on a board like this. They will have no choice but to work until they physically cannot get out of bed in the morning. Very sad.

  • 12 years ago

    I started drawing mine at 65 and I continued to work for a few months. I have a nice pension from the State of CA and I also get free medical and dental insurance for life from California. They reimburse me for my Medicare premiums also.

  • 12 years ago

    I was told by a rep to do the math. Figure up how much you would get for the 3 years and the extra you would get by waiting. It would have taken me 10 years to make up for what I lost during the 3 years.

  • 12 years ago

    We're looking @ it from the longevity angle, we're both very healthy & have genes for long lives. So while we won't get the $ on the front end, we "plan" to make it up on the back end when one or both of us live into our 90's or 100's. We have pensions & retirement accounts that facilitate our decision. Obviously there is no guarantee one way or the other... it's a bit of a gamble.

    When you file @ 62 you get a permanent 25% reduction from what you would have gotten @ FRA (Full Retirement Age) .

    When you delay & file @ 70 you get 132% of what you would get @ FRA.

    That is certainly something to consider if you can reasonably expect to live to an advanced age. As recommended on the video, only one of us will delay to 70 & take the spousal benefit for those 4 years.

  • 12 years ago

    That 25% reduction is incremental after age 62. I took full retirement at age 65.
    One factor not mentioned is the cost of medical insurance.

    When I went on Medicare, my medical costs (insurance/prescriptions and deductibles)dropped 90%.
    I went from paying almost $1000/month in medical insurance (with deductibles), to Medicare with a Medicare supplemental policy that pays all expenses not covered by Medicare, and a prescription plan).

    That difference put more money in my pocket.

  • 12 years ago

    The sad thing is, our children will never have this discussion on a board like this. They will have no choice but to work until they physically cannot get out of bed in the morning. Very sad.

    I hope you're wrong, Azzalea, because that would be very sad indeed.

    If/when Social Security no longer exists, people will have to save for their own retirement. That's what they should be doing anyway, because S/S usually represents only a part of a person's retirement income. I don't know anyone who lives solely on S/S.

    I do, on the other hand, know people who will never be able to retire because they saved nothing and spent so much that they entered their sixties in serious debt. They will most certainly have to work until they physically cannot get out of bed in the morning.

  • 12 years ago

    I'm still in my 20's so I don't expect to see Social Security when I'm ready for retirement. I have to plan around it and I put $1k a month into my retirement accounts, which is painful but I know it's what needs to be done.

    I think it's criminal that the Social Security deductions are mandatory when there's absolutely no guarantee that it will be there for a payout. As far as I'm concerned, that's stealing and the biggest pyramid scheme ever. Plus, the vast majority of people end up receiving FAR more money than they ever put into it so it's no wonder it's doomed.

    I think Social Security should be optional, and if you choose it, you only get out what you put into it. My irritation is with the system, not the people who use it. But I think it's wrong that I'm paying thousands a year to the fund for my supposed retirement and the government is able to just say "oops sorry we're broke" and I will never see that money again. I would much rather put that money where I know I can use it, and it infuriates me that I'm not given that option.

  • 12 years ago

    My husband's ex wife was a big spender and a softy when it came to the sob stories of her children. One time she asked me, "you can live on social security can't you?". She ended up broke and living with her kids. Very sad.

  • 12 years ago

    I had a BIL who complained that, SS didn't pay out enough to live on. He refused to understand that the purpose of SS benefits is to SUPPLEMENT retirement savings, not to BE your retirement income.

    Nor was it meant to provide benefits for those who didn't pay a minimum number of employment taxes into it.

  • 12 years ago

    If God bless you with62 years take it then .Who is to say you will make it to 65.You know what today brings you can not for see the future.

  • 12 years ago

    I think nancylee ky has it wrong:

    3. The amount you are entitled to receive is 50% of your ex's Social Security benefit or your own benefit based on your own employment history, whichever is greater.

  • 12 years ago

    Thanks for posting the link to that video, my husband has been considering retirement but really wants to wait to get the full benefits. I don't work any more but am quite a bit younger than he is so I will not be eligible for a while. In my present health we are in a situation that really makes it almost impossible for him to retire, because if he does then I no longer have his insurance from his work to handle my medical and prescription needs and that is expensive with the amount of meds I have to take.

    I really want him to talk to someone who is a specialist in this field to see what we could do so that he can retire.
    We have been saving and other that what we owe on the house which we could pay off we have no debt.But the whole medical issue is our big concern.

  • 12 years ago

    You also had to have been married for at least ten years to collect your ex's SS. If s/he dies, you are entitled to his/her full amount as a "divorced widow." I am putting banana peels on the sidewalk in front of my ex's house ;).

    I just had this conversation with the SS office last week, although not the banana peel part. I am going to start collecting at 65 because I need the income now. I'd have preferred to put it off as long as possible to increase the payments.

  • 12 years ago

    Frankly, You are entitled to receive half of ex's or yours - unless you have remarried, that relinquishes claim to ex's SS benefits.
    Morale, always marry "up" :)
    If ex remarries (and you haven't) and then dies - you have to share 1/2 of the SS benefit with surviving spouse.

  • 12 years ago

    No, that's not what I was told. I am entitled to his entire SS after he dies and if he were remarried, so would wife #2.

    My parents were divorced and after Dad died my mom got all of his SS and so did his second wife. It is all so complicated. If you remarry after age 60, you are still entitled to your first spouses benefits.

    No wonder the system is going broke. You really need to make an appointment to visit your SS office or have a phone appointment to understand what you are entitled to -- or not.

    Here is a link that might be useful: info

  • 12 years ago

    If ex remarries (and you haven't) and then dies - you have to share 1/2 of the SS benefit with surviving spouse.

    No, not true, there is no "sharing" of spousal benefit. If your ex has 2 ex's & a wife, all 3 could be entitled to all of his benefit, should he slip on a banana peel. LOL. The 10 yrs married, & unmarried now rules are applicable.

    Again, I would urge anyone who hasn't yet applied & is nearing the age, to WATCH the VIDEO. It is packed with info & this woman has been recognized for her expertise in this area. And again, you might NOT get accurate info from your local SS office. She says that & I can vouch for it myself. She also recommends AARP website for getting additional info.

  • 12 years ago

    I agree about the video--excellent information. For me, as it verifies, it makes perfect financial sense to wait until 70 to get the whopping 132% of benefits. Every situation is different and everyone has to do their own work to find out what is best.

  • 12 years ago

    Yes, that video is full of great info. Thanks for sharing.

  • 12 years ago

    Kind of pisses me off that the ex can use my benefits when the time comes.

  • 12 years ago

    I started receiving benefits at 64, was in great health, went for my yearly physical about three months later.
    Guess what. Was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, felt great but, but gravely I'll.
    So if you are thinking about waiting to get your SS, just remember life can sure throw some curve balls.
    I mention this because you may want to add a catastrophic illness in your calculations for retirement!
    I pray none of you will have any problems and live long and healthy lives, but remember, you never know what might happen.

    Maid

  • 12 years ago

    Kath, didn't he remarry? Wouldn't that mean that he is not entitled to any of your benefits?

  • 12 years ago

    I worked at Social Security for over 30 years, saw many many people and discussed their "options". If you are 62 or older and just want information about your rates at 62, full retirement (generally age 66, tho 67 for some) or age 70, then you can get a very accurate estimate of your personal benefits by visiting your local Social Security office. I would suggest you make an in-person (not phone) appointment, so you won't have to wait to be seen. Call 1 800 772 1213 to set up an appointment. But if you are younger (say, 55 and just making long-range plans) the "estimate" might be way off. Social Security benefits are "indexed" (tied to rate of inflation) and who knows what that will be in future years? Back when I was working there, it was "assumed" by the statisticians that people would die at age 77. Hey, I know that's not right. There are plenty of people over 77 walking around! But based on that (inaccurate) estimate of longevity, it didn't matter when you started to collect benefits. You would get the same total number of dollars whether you filed at 62 or 70. Also, there used to be a law that you could file at any point, collect your checks, then withdraw and re-apply at a later age for higher checks, the only "catch" was you had to pay back every dime you had already received. Great if you banked your checks and just collected the interest but it's hard to come up with, say $200,000 when you are retired and really want your benefits. Anyway, the ability to withdraw, repay and re-apply has been taken away. Once you actually apply, you are more or less locked into your benefits. Spouse and widow/widowers benefits have many rules. Check with Social Security if you are curious about those benefits. And, if possible, have all Social Security Numbers abailable.

  • 12 years ago

    Beeohio - Thank you so much for sharing this video. Since DH and I will be turning 66 and 62 respectively next year this is so timely. It is the most clearly stated and easy to understand explanation of possible benefit options I have seen anywhere. As a stay at home mom it looks like a no brainer for us to have me start collecting my share next year. I will only have one tax question to be answered and I have already emailed my accountant. Thank you.

  • 12 years ago

    A few years ago my cousin was surprised to learn that she, as an un-remarried divorced spouse, could collect on her ex's SS benefits. EVERY spouse with at least ten years in the marriage is eligible for 50% of the spouse's benefits. I wondered how how many spouses are collecting payments in cases of oft-married celebs. Good thing for the 10-year marriage duration qualifier!

    I worked for such a short time (for pay) that my only meaningful benefits are linked to my DH's. He is three years my senior. When he filed, I filed. At the time, we could earn more by investing the benefits than would accrue if we waited. Given today's investment climate, we'd have to cruch more numbers! Meanwhile, though, we've received years of benefits.

    Also, my DH has been the healthier of the two of us. I could see him collecting for a very long time -- me, less long -- an argument for us to get started receiving 150% of his benefit.

    Another factor was that when DH retired we elected to receive a larger pension payment by waiving my survivor rights. The pension is a static amount (doesn't increase) and will cease when DH dies.

    I am dismayed to read that a huge number of Americans have saved or are saving *nothing* towards retirement. Some have a token amount.

    So much for the argument that contributions to SS should be voluntary! Hmmm...I wonder who is going to feed these people? Oh, yes, it will be US -- just as we pay inflated medical costs to cover charity medical care.

    I can't remember the end of the fairy tale. Does the thrifty ant take in the careless grasshopper? Rewards for everyone Up Yonder?

  • 12 years ago

    I've never been impressed with the: I'll wait until I can collect full benefits argument. While you are waiting for that day to come, you are forgoing 10's of thousands of dollars of current income. I did the calculation and determined that, if I took the somewhat reduced benefit at 62 vs. waiting until I got the full benefit, I would be 78 before the full benefit made it a breakeven proposition. While I expect that I'll make it past 78, who knows? I could get hit by a beer truck tomorrow. I'm going to get and use the money now when I'm still healthy. And, since I don't need all of my Social Security for current expenses, I can invest the excess.

  • 12 years ago

    Yes, Flamingo, but the fact that he would ever be able to collect on MY benefits annoys me since he never contributed anything to my working life. I think this is something that should be done away with. Why would someone who is not with someone during those working years be entitled to those benefits at all? I don't get it.

  • 12 years ago

    Anyway, the ability to withdraw, repay and re-apply has been taken away. Once you actually apply, you are more or less locked into your benefits.
    Jannie, it has not been taken away entirely. I learned from the video that there is still a 12 month window where you can "change your mind". I verified that from the SS.gov site which states:
    ..... " Recent change in the withdrawal rules.Effective December 8, 2010, you can only withdraw your application for retirement benefits within 12 months of your first month of entitlement and you are limited to one withdrawal per lifetime."

    Wildchild, I am glad you (& others) found the video so helpful. Not everyone will take the time to view it, to their possible detriment. I also looked @ the AARP website (as Franklin recommended) & they have an excellent current article with really good examples. I haven't looked to see what they might have in the way of archived articles.

    Chisue, I so agree with you that the argument for a *voluntary* SS-like system kind of flies in the face of how little $ soooo many people save towards retirement. I do understand that it is nearly impossible for some given their low wages. But as an example, one gal I worked with participated in the company's voluntary retirement savings plan... to the tune of $5 per month. No kidding!!!! She had no kids & was an educated woman... but obviously clueless as to how ineffective that amount was. She actually "threw money away" since the company would have matched her contributions to a much greater amount!

  • 12 years ago

    I had it a little different.

    My office carried disability insurance on its employees. When I was disabled from not being able to do the job I had at the time, the office disability policy kicked in at 80% of my then monthly salary. However I was required to at least file for SS disability, which I did & was accepted into the program. This meant that the SS benefit paid the first part of the 80%, then the disability company paid the balance. Had I not been accepted by SS, the disability company would have been on the hook for the full 80% until I reached age 65 (I was 59 at the time of my disability).

    The advantage of the dual SS/private disability insurance was that I was also accepted into the Medicare program (although it turned out that I never used it from 59-65, except for a few very very minor items, but I'm sure I would have had difficulty finding private insurance elsewhere), plus there was the occasional SS percentage increase---the private disability company's amount would never increase, but they allowed the SS increase without lowering their monthly benefit payout.

    Then when I turned 65, I just went on regular SS, so no hard decisions were needed to be made.

  • 12 years ago

    The most valuable point in the entire video for me was where she stressed the importance of looking at the social security picture for the survivors. I think too many look at what I can have now rather than what income will be left when/if I or my spouse is alone.

    I also have personal experience with assuming the one with the worst health currently will pass on first. In my family the one who appear healthiest died first at age 78. The one who statistically should have gone first lived for another decade 'til the ripe old age of 90. The least healthy who wasn't expected to live through her 60's at one time and was on SSI since her early 40s at died last at the age of 89.

    So to me the lesson is for those couples who don't have equally good pensions/SS benefits to plan for the last one standing, don't base it on current health unless one has a terminal illness.

    Sometimes a bird in the hand is what it's cracked up to be. Plans have to be made for the worst case scenario. Being widowed and having to live on what is left. No one can really know how long they will live so I tend to plan for the longest and if we go before we get it all there will m be more left in the government's pot for those who come after us.

  • 12 years ago

    bird in the hand is what

    ISN'T not is *sigh*

  • 12 years ago

    Agree with you there, Wildchild. And that's why we are planning for one of us to wait until 70. That way when one of us dies the other will be covered better from the SS perspective. The caveat is that if something radical changes health-wise or gov-t-wise, before age 70 we will re-evaluate the plan.

  • 12 years ago

    I sent the video to my DH's work computer and SURPRISE! he took the time to view it. When he came home we discussed it a bit and he mentioned that his workplace holds Social Security and Retirement Planning workshops periodically. He's never been interested before because he's the type to not really plan ahead and figures he's working for a few more years anyway. But after viewing the video he says he will definitely sign up for the next one coming up. So again thanks Bee.

  • 12 years ago

    One thing to remember is this: Social Security was NEVER intended to be the sole source of income for retired (aged) people. It was always "assumed" a person would have savings and private pensions in addition to their SS checks. Somehow, people were lulled into thinking the government would "take care" of them forever. Not so.

  • 12 years ago

    I was a widow when I retired at 62, after counting the days until I could ditch a job that had gone downhill fast, and I was not very well fixed financially at the time. The biggest problem I had was meeting the payment for health insurance for those three years until Medicare kicked in. It was a toss up: get out of that job as soon as I could, after 25 years, or shell out a good amount of money for health insurance. Still having to pay a mortgage, and also for health insurance was tough for a while. What started out at around $500 for the insurance soon reached $700 a month for that insurance.

  • 12 years ago

    Some people "go bare" (without any insurance) between 62 to 65 when they get on Medicare. They need to consider that it is going to take $100 per month out of their SS checks for Medicare Part B. Then there is the cost of Medicare Supplement & Part D (for meds) that will also negatively impact their SS checks. This can be significant $$$$!

    So all of that (insurance costs) needs to be factored in when making the decision as to what age to apply.