Deciding when to Start Social Security

The question of when to start Social Security (SS) is dependent on many variables. Among them are other forms of retirement you may have, such as work retirement and/or armed services retirement. My father was fortunate in that he had all three. He had SS, Teamsters, and Marine retirements. For him there was no question of when. He just took all three retirements when they were available.

If you’re fortunate enough to have multiple retirements or even one good retirement plus SS, you may be okay. One of the problems facing today’s retirees is the fact that the money they planned to live on in their golden years has been snatched away when they weren’t looking. The amount of money that would have kept them secure and happy when they began to plan, has been eaten away by inflation and by the fall of the dollar. The amount of money required to live comfortably in your old age keeps going up.

The age at which you can begin receiving SS keeps going up too. My father got his at age 65. I got mine at age 65 and four months. My younger brother will get his at age 66. You can still draw SS at 62 but at a lesser amount.

The big decision with SS is whether to take it early. What are the variables? My brother is nearly 60. He can’t take his full SS until age 66. Here’s the question for him. If I retire at age 62, I will have less money per month. However, I will receive that money for four years before I reach 66. Let me just play with some numbers. If my brother will get $1,000/month if he retires at age 62, in four years he will have $48,000. Let’s say he will make $1,300/month if he waits until age 66. That’s $15,600/year.

By age 67, he will have $60,000 from his early retirement and $15,600 for his full-term retirement. Progress it another year and you have $72,000 versus $31,200. We can continue to progress this and you can see that the amount of money he receives at age 66 will eventually catch up with the money he gets from early retirement. But how many years will that take?

Look at your own situation. No one should have to depend on SS to live. You really need to have other sources of income. The other possibility is to keep working past your retirement age of 66. By working longer, you make more money in the short run and your SS benefit will continue to increase. Just figure out how long you expect to live and what you will need to live on and then make your decision.