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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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October 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Take the money at 62, invest it, then return it at 66 and you can take the full benefit. It's an interest free loan

October 24, 2013 at 12:15 am

Full retirement is 66 if born in 1938 through 1959.

October 23, 2013 at 3:43 am

The social security system has been stolen from ..... there is no social security "trust fund" any longer. As far as feeling only halfway up at 62.. whoever you are, you are lucky, fictional or disingenuous. I say this because you say you own your own business that you started 17 years ago and if you own your own business you are working so hard to keep up with the crushing inflation and federal regulations just to keep your lights on. I say ditch this country now, move to new zealand and collect your checks and relax while the country burns after the de-industrialization that resulted from NAFTA, GATT and now OBAMACARE. Thanks Politicians!!! For defending the constitution!!~ Thanks for NOTHING.

October 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm

4 years divided by 25% a year means 12 years to break even not counting COLA and your high five isn't increasing by your own admission. The world must be interesting viewed through your naval.

Charlie In Reston
October 17, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I'm planning to take the money and run - at 62, then move to a low paying, low cost of living state, and enjoy my retirement.
Every year that we put it off is another year closer to the government lowering the benefits (for our own good, of course...).
Nope - taking my retirement as soon as I can.

Ben Round
October 10, 2013 at 12:29 am

Everyone's got different situations and goals. I've decided to take the cash at 62.

John R
October 02, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Wait how many years so you collect the max? Has it dawned on you that big government is trying their best to get rid of SS? Wait til your 66 and at the age of 72 SS wil be gone. Just my two cents.

October 02, 2013 at 9:49 am

In 4 years, your full benefit will be about what your benefit would be at 62 or non-existent. In terms of real dollars, it will be less given the inflation that is coming.

Take it now.

Joe From, Hell
October 01, 2013 at 10:50 pm

health insurance ...never had it so I am not..

Joe From, Hell
October 01, 2013 at 10:49 pm

you better hope you are right...cause you could drop dead at any time...I say take it early and try not to work too in Oregon thats easy cause the UE rate is like 14%