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Social Security — just say ‘no’

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Posted: 7 pm ET

It's my birthday. I'm 62 and old enough to claim Social Security. But I'm not filing. Here are four reasons why it's not part of my retirement planning.

Claiming early means I'd take a haircut. Taking Social Security before full retirement age -- 66 for people born between 1934 and 1954 -- reduces the monthly benefit by 25 percent.

I don't need it. Seventeen years ago this month, I used my unemployment to keep the family afloat while I started my own business. In the last couple of years, I've been racheting down the amount of time I spend working, but I like what I do and I'm not ready to hang up my work boots.

Working and claiming add up to missing money. If I file for Social Security before my full retirement age of 66 and keep working -- earning more than $15,120 -- Social Security will subtract $1 from my benefit payments for every $2 I earn. Once I reach my full retirement age, Social Security will recalculate my benefit to reflect the earlier payments I didn't get, but I'd rather keep my paycheck, thanks. Plus, once I reach 66, I can work and earn all I want and my Social Security won't be affected at all.

Patience pays off. The magic age is 66. That's when people my age can claim full Social Security and take advantage of claiming choices. Here's the strategy I'm considering. Because I'm married, at 66, I'll be able to restrict my claim to half my spouse's Social Security and let the value of my own grow 8 percent a year, plus cost-of-living adjustments, until I can claim the maximum amount at age 70. Using this strategy increases what I'll get in benefits compared to claiming at 66 or delaying altogether until 70 by more than $70,000 by the time I'm 85 -- more if I live longer than average, according to calculations by Social Security Income Planner, a sophisticated Social Security benefit calculator.

One last thing: I used to think 62 was over the hill, but I was wrong. At 62, I still feel like I'm only halfway up.

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July 19, 2014 at 4:27 pm

By the time I reach the age of 67, let alone 70- THERE WILL BE NO SOCIAL SECURITY! Now, this is not to say I like being on it; technically I did NOT wish to be put on it, but was basically 'forced to sign' [long story...] ANYWAY, I figure might as well get what I can, WHEN I can, and still continue to work what I can up to the limit. Currently working on working my way out. Nice place to be, and feeling accomplished each and every day.

Patricia Morris
June 20, 2014 at 10:18 pm

I had to quit my teaching job at 61 due to a physical disability and filed for social security soon after at aga 62. I didn't know about claiming spousal benefits then. Can I still claim 1/2 of my husbands benefits and refile? He just turned 63 and plans on working at least another three years.

P. Morris

April 09, 2014 at 12:21 am

I am running 68. My spouse is 61 and working. Can she take spousal benefits and wait her SS benefits till her full retirement age? If yes, at what age she can apply for spousal benefit?
I was told by SS that at 62, she can take half of mine or her's - which ever is greater.

March 13, 2014 at 10:46 pm

I like to know if I been getting my S.S.D.I.SINCE 2/2010 FOR A STROKE I HAD FROM MY JOB,AND NOW I'M 63 NEXT MONTH. When do I file for my social security.

David Davey
March 13, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Yeah, Like hell I'm not taking it!

Did Some Math
March 11, 2014 at 11:24 pm

At age 63 I was drawing a modest fixed benefit retirement and working full time, but my hours were cut back making it hard to get by. I began drawing SS and lost 18% (3 years early. In those three years I received approximately $60,000. Since I had given up approximately $3,100 dollars per year it would take me about 19 years or to the age of 82 to break even. Sure I could use another $3,100 per year (gross) but in my situation it allowed me to be far more secure at a younger age than I would have been during those three years.

February 24, 2014 at 10:28 pm

"Seventeen years ago this month, I used my unemployment to keep the family afloat while I started my own business."

I don't know exactly what you did, but if you were not looking for work and available for work you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

February 14, 2014 at 2:59 pm

can you draw unemployment and social security