Best Time To Start Collecting Social Security

Joined
Sep 13, 2007
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Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
Can you then suggest a better way to assess the costs/benefits of waiting to collect?
No, I don't have a better way. However, don't construe that to mean that I believe it is the best way. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, there is no one size that fits all. The best analysis for a particular individual requires that person to use highly critical thinking including an accurate assessment of their ability to save and successfully invest money or not.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
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2,317
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Southern Cal
Since I reach my FRA in June 2021 I went ahead and applied for benefits on Nov 2 commencing in January 2021. In filling out the online application it noted that a representative may be contacting you by phone. Today, I received that call. They just had a few questions such as if I plan on working and collecting benefits. I told them I did. They asked how much I guess I would earn between January and June. I gave them an amount and they confirmed that that is within the amount I can earn with no penalty. I guess they increased that amount this year up to to $50k can be earned between January and the month you reach your FRA. My monthly benefit will be reduced by $50 per month for life since I started before reaching my FRA. It would take several years to make up what I will be collecting from January to June at a rate of $50 per month. Definitely a good move. They also reminded me to have my wife change hers to also collect from my earnings record. She does not receive that much on her working history so it will be a big jump for her as she will get 50% of what I receive minus what her benefit is. The total cannot be more than the 50% if she had not filed on her work record a few years ago. I'm very pleased with how this ended up and relieved that they confirmed it by phone.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
18,641
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
I'm very pleased with how this ended up and relieved that they confirmed it by phone.
Well done!

When the representative called me last month, she recommended that I start receiving payments in January rather than wait until February. (My birthday is in December.) I explained that my wife handled all that decision-making and asked the rep to speak with her. Once the two of them spoke, my wife realized that she had misunderstood the information at the website, which I know can be very confusing. In the end, we were grateful for the follow-up call and the recommendation to begin receiving checks a month earlier than we had planned. Frankly, it was government operating at a level of competency and efficiency that I didn't know was possible for a government.
 
Joined
May 23, 2009
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521
Location
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I was in the same position. I worked for Uncle Sam for 44 years. 24 years in Navy, 20 years with DoD Agency. What I didn't realize was that the work was killing me. Extreme high stress job. The stress was with me 24/7.
Walked away and haven't looked back. What retirement showed me was that I was killing myself and the impact upon my wife was something that I didn't recognize until after I retired.

More to life than a salary. Once you retire you realize just how much you don't need!

Doug
 

JLH

Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
146
I would never tell anyone else how to manage their money...but..... I hear so many people say "take it as soon as you can...you may not live long!". I volunteer on a historic ship. I have a LOT of guys that come that are over 80, some even hit 90! (WW2 ship with WW2 and Korean era vets). Some spout that the government wants you to wait so they don't have to give you as much money...what BS! If you do the math you learn that if you take it at 62 or take it at 70 that you will collect about the same by the time you are 80. Its all based on actuary tables of how long the average person will live. I waited until I was 70 and let it grow. ( I had another retirement as a teach that got me by). Every case is different but my SS amount nearly doubled by me waiting. They cut your SS if you get certain types of retirement...WEP they call it...and I got hit by that.
I hear a lot of silly remarks like "you might die and never get to see your money!". Well, that may be true but you may also live a long life, like many do, and end up getting a LOT less for a long time because you started early. When people told me I might die (before I was 70) and never get anything I assured them that in the unlikely event that might happen I would be dead and never know the difference! And the other one is that the person is going to collect it and invest every bit into this magic account that is going to grow like crazy over the years. Well, it could happen...or not....or you might spend it along the way.
Anyway, for my particular circumstance I waited until 70 and got much more. Rather than dark thoughts of "dying young" I prefer to think of myself being 88 years old and still walking in the forest taking photos with my Nikon. (And that brings this thread back to being about photography with a Nikon....😀)
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
2,317
Location
Southern Cal
The fact that you can discuss things like this as long as it's posted in the right area is one of the things I love about the Nikon Cafe. I cannot begin to count the numerous things I have learned here that have nothing to do with photography and have made a lot of friends along the way. In the 15 years I have been a member here there is only 1 week when I did not long in due to being hospitalized. Other than that, I haven't missed a single day to see what's new here. I have always had the decision made that I would start collecting when I reach my FRA. That is of course unless something unforseen happened before that. I then found the article from the Arizona publication that discussed starting in the year you reach your FRA you are not faced with the same penalty if you still work. By taking that author's advice I will give up $50 a month for life. By starting early but in the year I reach my FRA I will collect several thousand dollars which would take 20-30 years to recoup with the extra $50 per month. That is if I live that long. If you choose this option there is no penalty for still working in most cases. If this thread helps one other individual who is struggling with the same decision I was but was yearning for accurate information IMO this thread was well worth the bandwidth it has used.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2006
Messages
598
Location
San Antonio, TX
A few years ago when I retired from a high paying job I had a difficult time with Soc Sec. They wanted to extrapolate my (now non-existant) earnings in order to get a surcharge on the monthly medicare fee. It was a 6 month mess, two written appeals, several phone calls to me that had to be scheduled weeks in advance. Finally prevailed.
I must have fallen into the 'super audit' pile or something. Also note, should you mail in the form to get Soc Sec to withhold some income taxes, it takes 5 months for it to kick in. And that was before the Rona.
 

JLH

Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
146
I was lucky in that we have a great SS office only a few miles from where I live. The staff there are super and really worked with me to figure out the best route to take. Everyone's situation is different; things like other retirement income, if they are still working, and so-forth. I found actually speaking with a real person was the best approach rather than trying to figure out every thing on their web site. Do your research on-line and then go talk to a real human. If the person in the office doesn't seem to be helpful come back another day and see someone else.
There are a ton of self proclaimed "experts" on-line and in print and they all have a different idea of what is best. You need to do your homework and figure out what is best for you and your own situation. Be honest with yourself about your health and finances. Don't assume you will drop dead at 64 or something unless you really are ill. People are living longer all the time. I actually retired at age 60 but didn't collect SS for ten years. ( I had another retirement plan from my work that was OK to live on and I had no debt). Then at 70 I got this nice little "pay raise" when I started collecting SS. In my situation due to my state retirement my SS was chopped down to only like $350 a month at age 62. Not enough to tempt me or make much difference in my life. By waiting until 70 it doubled in my case. But,,,,as they say.....YMMV.
 
Joined
Jan 2, 2009
Messages
5,929
Location
Alaska
My Dad retired at the same age as I am now (62) and said that he regretted retiring so early. I'm going to work as long as I enjoy working. :)
We're all wired differently. Work in the sense of a job can be replaced by other useful endeavors. For oneself or for others. I retired at 58 and now don't know how I managed my personal life, home, etc, when I worked full time. If you have a naturally constructive mind staying busy and doing something useful isn't a problem. But it may not pay very well.
 
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
1,141
Location
Indiana
My Dad retired at the same age as I am now (62) and said that he regretted retiring so early. I'm going to work as long as I enjoy working. :)
More than 2 yrs ago, I retired at 62 1/2. My intention was to keep working for a couple more years. The company closed the generating station I worked at and offered 41 weeks of severance pay plus full pension. I could have transferred to another station that would require moving or driving 120 miles a day. I took the money and ran before they changed their mind.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
2,317
Location
Southern Cal
More than 2 yrs ago, I retired at 62 1/2. My intention was to keep working for a couple more years. The company closed the generating station I worked at and offered 41 weeks of severance pay plus full pension. I could have transferred to another station that would require moving or driving 120 miles a day. I took the money and ran before they changed their mind.
That's been my backup plan since I turned 62. If something happened to me or the economy and was unable to work, I had the option to file early. At FRA though you are not penalized for also working except for income tax so if the math works best for you, a lot of times it doesn't make sense to wait until 70.
 
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