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When Should You Start Taking Your Social Security Benefits?

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

Note – October, 2016 — This article still has a lot of good information in it, but some is outdated, particularly as it pertains to spousal benefit strategies like “File and Suspend” and “Restricted Benefit”. See “Filing for Social Security: 5 Reasons Why It Is More Complicated Than You Think” for more up to date information.

January 25, 2010 — If your quick response to this question was 62, you might want to think a little harder. More and more information is coming out that supports the idea that you should wait as long as possible, particularly if you or your spouse had a high earning career. If you responded that you weren’t sure, that was a good answer, because the question is a surprisingly complex one and highly personal too. This article will review some of the key considerations you need to take into account before reaching your decision. Note: See our 2011 article, “10 Things You Need to Know Before You Start Taking Social Security“.

First, to recap: For people born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66 (for people born earlier it is few months younger; or older if you were born in a later year). If you were in born in 1946 and elect to start receiving your benefits after 2012 you will get 100% of your Full Retirement Age (FRA) monthly benefit. If you delay taking benefits even longer (until a maximum of age 70), you will receive 8% more for each year you wait. You have the option of starting your benefits at age 62, although it will be reduced by 25% of the benefit paid at age 66. The longer you wait (up until age 70), the more you get.

We’re Living Longer
Part of the reason why so many experts advocate waiting to start your benefits has to do with our increased longevity. The average life expectancy at birth is 78; it was 63 when Social Security started. The average life expectancy (78) is the break-even point – if you live to the average age it doesn’t matter whether you started collecting your benefits early or late – the amount you get will work out to be the same. However, if you live longer, waiting to collect your benefit will net you more money. The chances are that you will live longer too, because by the time you reach 65 your life expectancy is 82 if you are a man and 85 if you are a woman. People who are married live even longer. And even if you start to collect before full retirement age and you die before your average life expectancy, you still might not have gotten ahead of Uncle Sam. That’s because if your spouse lives a long life he or she will get reduced benefits based on your early distribution decision.

Spousal Strategies
Note: After April 2016 some of the spousal strategies mentioned here changed. any of the Deciding when you and your spouse start taking benefits is one of the most complicated questions. That depends in part on whether either or both of you were high earners. In general, high earners should wait. In a situation where the husband was a relatively low earner, he might want to start taking benefits early and specify that the high earning spouse delay benefits. That way the higher benefits accruing to the higher earning spouse are preserved, but the couple can start getting some social security income in the door to help with living expenses. The lower earning spouse will get a step-up to 50% of their spousal benefit when the higher earning starts to collect at full retirement age, although it will be reduced somewhat because of the decision to start taking benefits early.

Working = Delay
If you are working you definitely should think about delaying your benefits for several reasons. For one, if you make more than the minimum of $14,640 before you reach full retirement age, your benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 you make over the minimum. In the year you reach your Full Retirement Age the benefit reduction is $1 for every $3 earned up to $38,880. For another reason, the longer you work the more your maximum payment will be, up to age 70. Your “primary insurance amount” (PIA) is based on your highest 35 earning years, so it is in your interest to drop off lower earning years (like those on your first job).

On the other hand, it might not make any sense to delay taking your benefits if you really need the money. Better to take a reduced benefit and stay afloat than to lose your home or not have enough to eat. If your increased benefit drives your total income over $85,000/single or $170,00/jointly you will have to pay higher Part B premiums, as Old Nassau points out.

No More “Do-Overs”
One of the best articles we have ever seen on when to take social security benefits is “How to Hike Your Social Security Benefits“, just written by Robert Powell of Wall Street Journal MarketWatch. In his article Powell points out the demise of the so-called “Do-Over” strategy. This option, which previously allowed social security recipients to start collecting early and then cancel and re-register at full retirement age, paying the earlier benefits back with no interest, has been discontinued.

More Resources
Social Security COLA increase set for 2012
When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits from the Social Security Administration is also extremely helpful.
Another is the Center for Retirement Research’s “Social Security Claiming Guide“.
Schwab has an excellent guide that explains some of the more complex strategies for claiming social security benefits.
2 Part Series: What You Think You Know About Social Security Might Hurt You

What do you plan to do?
As always, you should carefully research this question and consult with your accountant and/or financial advisor before making an important decision like this. Please let us know your strategies and questions for taking social security in the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on January 24th, 2011


  1. Waiting until at lease 66 or your age for full retirement is great and keep on working, but you must also take into consideration what your Medicare Parts B & C are going to cost you if you work past age 65 and earn over the $85,000.00 mark. The increased cost of the Medicare Insurance you are required to take make not equal out the amount earned and the benefit you receive from working later such as to age 70. Medicare costs are rarely mentioned until you have to apply for and receive the premium notice. The cost also seems to rise much more rapidly than inflation, 18% raise in 2010? Just something everyone needs to be aware of and should certainly look into when you reach that 65 mark.

    by Robert Walters — January 25, 2011

  2. I started at 62, biggest mistake of my life

    by Judith — January 26, 2011

  3. For the widows out there (or anyone married for more than 10 years, not remarried whose ex-spouse has died). You have the option of taking your late spouse’s social security at 62 and delaying taking your own until age 70, at which point it will be much higher. I rarely see this mentioned and I believe many women need to know this.

    by Ann — January 26, 2011

  4. Taking it at 62 was the right choice for me. I lost my job when I was 60. Was looking for a new one and had several very good prospects when my 89 year old mother’s health had a rapid decline. Until then she had been living in an independent living retirement community. Choice was move her into an assisted living facility or with me. I moved her in with me and being her full time caretaker became my job. She passed away at 90. When 62 came around I had to decide on retirement at 62 or wait four more years. I did the math. How much retirement income would I receive for four years vs. what my retirement income would be at 66 and how long would it take to make up the difference if I waited until 66. After much research, discussions with my financial advisor, I chose 62. In light of the economic turndown and unemployment over the past few years (I just turned 64), it was a good decision for me. My advice is do your homework.

    by Karen — January 26, 2011

  5. Judith: Interested in why you say it was the biggest mistake of your life taking SS at age 62.

    by Cathy — January 26, 2011

  6. Mathematically, the lines comparing amounts of money received do not cross until you reach 73 years of age. What this means is that if you start collecting at 62, and your twin sister waits until 66 years, when you reach 73, you would have both collected the same amount of money from SS. But, you would have had four more years of retirement to enjoy.

    Personally, I retired at 63 and am glad I did.

    by bruce — January 26, 2011

  7. Cathy: I had been laid off from my full time position and only worked part-time. Could not find full time employment and decided to take my Social Security as a supplement. Little did I know and was not properly informed that this amount stays the same forever. I finally found full time employment and because I was making too much in that full time job (which would make someone laugh at the amount) I was making more than I should while collecting so now little by little I pay back my overage to Social Security. DO NOT TAKE at 62 unless you are able to work part-time, can stay under the amount allotted by Social Security and can survive which is almost impossible today. Think first, don’t panic!

    by Judith — January 26, 2011

  8. At 64 3/4 I was laid off from a good paying career job. The prospects of me landing a decent job now are slim. My goal is to survive off of unemployment and my IRA savings until I reach my “full” SS retirement benefit at 66. Many of my friends have opted for the 62 payout but the reduction in funds makes one pause. This article is correct in suggesting a full financial review before making this important decision.

    by Douglas — January 26, 2011

  9. I have a history of cancer. No one in my family has lived much past 80. What’s not to like about drawing at 62?

    by Sharon — January 26, 2011

  10. My wife and I started taking our Social Security at 62 and it is the best thing we ever did. In our case we both also receive a pension. Instead of living off of our investments we are able to put them to work. With the economy ready to take off again, our net worth continues to grow. If I live longer than 78 and don’t make as much from Social Security, I more than make up for it with what I am accruing in personal wealth. And the likelihood that I live longer than 78 is better since I’m not worrying about depleting my wealth and not getting my Social Security.

    by Gary Wester — January 26, 2011

  11. Great advice from Judy, and Bruce’s math does not compute. I am a certified financial planner and have assisted about 35 elderly with this complex issue and only 1 of the “early starters at 62” is still happy with that decision several years down the road. The correct “crossover” age was stated in the article. It is age 78…has always been and will remain so. It makes no sense to start early unless one’s health is very poor or they have accumulated so litte money by 62 that they have no choice (bills, mortgage etc) Most folks don’t know that for every year they delay after age 66 (until 70) gets them an absolute guaranteed 8% boost EVERY year for those 4 years. And because your payments by then will be so much larger, the annual COLA raise (parden the last 2 years) is also substantially larger because it’s applied to the larger monthly payments. As T Rowe Price’s top retirement planner , Christine Fahlund CFP, explained Monday on the Morningstar Retirement Portfolio seminar just this past monday, those who make it just to their own normal life expectancy will roughly make TWICE as much money as the early starters. If you make it into your 90’s, you will greatly appreciate the much larger payments as your health care costs will rise substantially in your final years. Listen to the free Morningstar webcast (1 hour long and is spectacular) at

    by Allan — January 26, 2011

  12. Ann mentioned “widows”. Also need to factor in divorce, even if both spouses are alive. If the woman has not remarried, she might be better off taking her own SS at age 62, then switching to the ex-husband’s benefit at age 66, if he is a much higher earner. Or the reverse might be better. Again, seek information and advice before making any decision.

    by Sandy — January 26, 2011

  13. I am 62. I ran the numbers for me out to 2034 (which is beyond my life expectancy according to the government). If I start taking SS this year (which I will) compared to waiting till I am 66, I would get a total of $49,932 more by waiting. If I wait till I am 70 I would get $77,592 more. BUT … That does take into account the present value of money. Given that I get the monthly benefit now and for 4 more years till I hit 66, that additional $50K will be more than eaten up by inflation.

    by John — January 26, 2011

  14. You should also remember that SS benefits are calculated based upon a TOTAL payout. And, if you do work again before you reach 66, your benefits will be recalculated when you reach 66 and you will get the benefit of those earnings.

    by John — January 26, 2011

  15. Judy: Thanks for the explanation and also to others who have commented. My spouse is already retired for 11 years with a pension and will start taking SS at 62 (end of this year), and his pension does not get reduced (some pensions reduce the benefit by the amount received from SS once you start receiving it). I will have a modest pension when I retire (benefit was frozen last year) and also have 401(k) monies. My situation nearly mirror’s that of Gary’s. Still have three more years before age 62 but am trying to prepare.

    by Cathy — January 26, 2011

  16. Some of us do not have a choice. My husband was forced in to early retirement due to the economy and his pension plans requires us to take Social Security at 62. Otherwise we will lose half of our monthly income. This should always be taken into account if you are receiving a pension.

    by Peggy G — January 26, 2011

  17. The last time I checked, and it’s been quite some time now, the actuarial table for a male indicated that if you start collecting at age 62, after 7 years you will have collected about an equal amount to that of 65 years of age. And the longer you live the better off you will be.

    by belleboy — January 26, 2011

  18. It is a relatively simple math problem. You need to find your ‘break-even’ point where the total amount of money you get by enrolling early before you die will equal the total amount of money you get by delaying your enrollment until your death.

    If you enroll at age 62 and die before your break-even point you ‘make’ money. If you enroll at age 62 and die after your age at the break-even point, Z, you ‘lose’ money.

    Your choice whether to enroll in social security at 62 or at a later date really is dependent on how long you think you will live.

    I decided, personally, that based on my health and family history that I would not live or live much past my break-even point so I enrolled at age 62. I am past my break-even point now so I gambled and lost. I am happy about that to be sure. My wife, who is quite a bit younger than I, will probably live into her 90s and since we do not need the money she will not enroll until age 66 or 67 so she will get full benefits for her entire life after 66 or 67. If she was in poor health or we felt she would die early (before her break-even point) for whatever reason she would have enrolled earlier.

    Preparing for retirement is easy: SAVE EVERY PENNY YOU POSSIBLY CAN and put it where it is safe and will grow. You cannot live on SS alone.

    by Mad Jayhawk — January 26, 2011

  19. Mad Jayhawk, you hit the nail on the head; it’s an individual decision based on your health!
    That’s exactly why I decided to take mine at 62 as I had some health issues.
    My wife is a little older than me and started collecting half of mine at that time as well. She was stay at home mom with not enough credits on her own.
    Also, because I have been receiving a pension since retiring at 57, the added income requires more taxes at the end of the year for which we have to pay quarterly.
    If I had waited to collect till 66 it would have added even more to our taxes.
    62 was the right number for us

    by Van — January 26, 2011

  20. This is all fine and good, if you have one wit of confidence that the central government is going to be fluid in as little as 10 years.
    at the rate the government is printing money and and crashing the dollar as the worlds reserve currency, continuing to spend instead of cut, borrowing against our children and childrens children’s earnings, we will not be solvent very much longer, I say, grab what you can and try to recoup what little you can from what has been extracted from you by the power of the central government.
    juuuust sayin……

    by Vernonw — January 26, 2011

  21. Impossible to know for sure when to start SS, because
    (1) Your state of residence. Does it tax SS? 36 do not do not, but, given the present disastrous economy, several could start.
    (2) Your income. Will SS push you into higher tax brackets? Maybe not now, but who knows what future brackets will be.
    (3) Drawing SS increases not only your taxes, but, when you enroll in Medicare, your monthly medicare premiums. Less than $85k = $96.40. But raises to $154, $221, $287, or even $353, depending on your total (not just taxable) income.
    Just more reasons to wait. Keep your head, and income, down.

    by oldnassau — January 26, 2011

  22. We took early retirement (ages 56 and 58) so we had our life scaled back and were comfortable in our finances and budget well before we could take social security. It was like a bonanza when each of us reached age 62. Doing it over, we would make the same choice and take SS at age 62. Worked for us but then everyone’s finances and ability to scale back varies.

    by David M. Lane — January 26, 2011

  23. I share the same concerns as Vernonw and am nearly certain my spouse will take SS at age 62 since he has been retired for 11 years. My decision will likely depend more on how much I have in my 401(k) at the time and whether I work past 62.

    by Cathy — January 27, 2011

  24. If you can afford to retire now, then it doesn’t matter if you will get a bit more from SS by waiting. Do what works for you.

    I have been retired for 6+ years and took SS at 62. Currently my income is 42 percent pension, 38 percent SS, and about 20 percent IRA. This represents about 60 percent of my pre-retirement income.

    BTW: My mother is 96 and her medical expenses were $186 last year and mine were $108, both not including Medicare or insurance. Including insurance my medical expenses were less than 4 percent of income. For my mother they were a much higher percentage about 18 percent but then her income is on 100 percent SS.

    by Randy — January 27, 2011

  25. My percentages would work out quite similar to yours in terms of pension, SS and 401(k).

    by Cathy — January 27, 2011

  26. Excellent article!
    What the comments from your readers show is that there is no “one size fits all” regarding when to start your benefits. The range begins at age 62 (if you absolutely must have the money) to your full retirement age (or later) if you are still working.
    What is certain is that what worked for friends and relatives might not work for you. Everyone should make use of the resources and calculators on the Social Security web site at to gather information about their particular situations. Only then will you be able to make an informed decision about when to take your benefits.
    John G. (former Social Security communications director)

    by John Garlinger — January 27, 2011

  27. I am retired military. My health cares are taken care of by the VA. I have also earned another retirement. I am presently employed in a job that will provide a retirement of about a thouand a month. She only has SS. My wife and I were both in a severe car accident in September. Our health is much worse than it was a year ago. We were planning on taking our SS at age 62. I am 59 and she is 57. Historically,her family usually passes away by age 75. My family usually lives longer, into their late 80s. Both of us have very stressful jobs. We both want to retire and enjoy life. If we retire and use my retirements and not our SS, our monthly income will be reduced about 25%. We are confused about what to do.

    by Dana — January 28, 2011

  28. Call me crazy…but personally, I don’t have much faith in our government doing the right thing. The government can’t balance its own budget. And, you can bet that what helps the government save money or postpone having to pay it out works for Uncle Sam..not you as an individual. What is also scary is the social welfare programs like SS which were sacred cows no longer are so. They are not off limits to governement meddling and “tweaking.” I just have an uneasy feeling that Uncle Sam is going to continue to make things difficult for the average “Joe” and will continue to try to balance the US budget on the backs of ordinary citizens. They will continue to push back elligibility retirement ages and may continue to drastically reduce or eliminate cost of living increase whenever they are so inclined or under some half-baked pretext. There may also be other possible unforeseen tactics used to further screw up or overhaul the system. Maybe, I might be a bit short-sighted and paranoid but my gut instinct tells me to take the money as soon as possible and run. Fortunately, having accumulated a reasonable amount of financial assets (if the market doesn’t tank again) and having a small pension makes this decision a little bit easier for someone like myself. As frequently mentioned, SS was never meant to be the sole source of anyone’s retirement income.

    by Artie — January 31, 2011

  29. The average life expectancy varies by whether you are male or female; asian, black, white, or hispanic; and family history. Assuming 78 years for everyone is not a good idea. check out the mortality rates by age, race, and gender at

    by Karen — February 2, 2011

  30. you can alway start collecting at ge 62, invest the money collect interest. then at age 66 pay back ss the monies and collect at the higher rate!

    by reet — February 2, 2011

  31. that way if you die after 3 years someone (spouse or children) at least have 3 yrs worth of ss $$ and if you live past 66 you can get the higher amt.

    by reet — February 2, 2011

  32. Sorry Reet, as the article mentions above, the ability to collect early and pay back has been eliminated. So if you start collecting early, you can’t go back on that decision any more. See the Robert Powell article on the subject:

    by Admin — February 2, 2011

  33. I stopped working to take care of my parents, first my Dad, now my Mother. Being a care giver makes it impossible to work. I get a pension. I retired at 55 from my former job, worked part time jobs up until 2007. My question is, since I am no longer working, if I delay taking my SS until 66, will my benefits go up or stay at what I would have received at 62?

    by Debra — February 4, 2011

  34. […] Note that how much you get depends on what age you intend to start taking it (see our article on when to start taking social security). – Investment income. This is the trickiest component. Many experts believe that you can safety […]

    by » My Wife is Getting Worried…Will We Have Enough Money in Retirement? Topretirements — March 7, 2011

  35. When the time is coming close (age-62) to have the opportunity to collect your social security, please keep in mind one very important fact that most people do not take into consideration. If you are retired and apply for your social security at (66) years of age instead of (62) years of age, you will have to live or (survive) for approximately (12) years beyond age (66) just to catch-up for the money you lost by not collecting at age (62). Figure out the total amount of money you could collect between age (62) up to age (66). Now take the higher amount of money at age (66) and check the difference. It works out to approximately (12) years on average, that it will take you to make up the difference of the money you lost by not collecting at age (62). I believe that each individual must evaluate there own financial situation and decide what works best, either married or single. Many Americans do not have a pension other then social security and will depend on this money for survival. If you plan on working until age (66) and make a good salary, it could be better to wait for the higher amount. Also if a person or husband & wife have enough personal savings and investments and truly do not need the money for their survival, then it may be beneficial for someone in this bracket to wait for the higher amount. There is no “one choice that fits everyone”. It is critical to do your homework and research all the available information from Social Security Admin. and web-sites like this that give us the tools and knowledge to make an informed decision. Do not wait for the last minute to make your choice. Start your own personal evaluation at least one-year prior to age (62) and review all the factors that should proceed the choice that will benefit you the most. Also stay abreast of new laws and regulations regarding social security, so when the time comes to choose you will make an educated choice that will impact the rest of your life. Good luck to all !!!!!

    by Neil McGowan — March 9, 2011

  36. […] further reference: When Should You Start Taking Your Social Security Benefits? Posted by John Brady on March 29th, 2011 Comments (0)  Email This Post Entries (RSS) and […]

    by » It Does Pay to Work in Retirement Topretirements — March 29, 2011

  37. Can I receive my ss benefits & have it automatically stopped when my wages reach the allotted amount ($14,160.00) while I’m working full time?
    I was 62 in Apr but have not decided to file for ss benefits.

    by Harold — June 17, 2011

  38. […] For further reference When Should You Start Taking Your Social Security Benefits? […]

    by » Too Many Boomers Leave Money on the Social Security Table Topretirements — July 19, 2011

  39. […] need the money you might have no choice but to start taking it early. See our article, “When Should You Start Taking Social Security“. This page shows the reduction of your benefit from age 62 to […]

    by » Ten Things About Social Security You Need to Know Topretirements — October 17, 2011

  40. I’m 66 this year and filed in january, they will not deduct all what I earn these months before sept (BD). Question; When I start receiving ss retirement how long do i have to stop working before start working again, there should be no deductions and my income from ss should be increased year after year that I work correct?

    by Enrique — April 4, 2012

  41. Enrique, if you are 66 and that is your full retirement age, you may earn unlimited amounts and not be penalized if you are lucky enough to be employed. If this is the year you reach full retirement age, there is a limit, around $38,000, until you reach full retirement age.

    I encourage you to talk to the Social Security folks. I found them to be extremely helpful and very knowledgeable. Yes, you’ll have to hold for a while while you wait to talk to a representative, but it can be time well spent. Write down all your questions while you’re waiting.

    Editor’s note: Thanks so much Linda for helping out with this answer. It’s great when our members pitch in like this!

    by Linda — April 5, 2012

  42. I’m turning 63 in May but my full retirement age (to earn income without penalty) is 66. My wife is already retired and can provide a base income once we move to a 55+ community in FL. I looked at the two sources of income I can tap to supplement her base: my as-yet-untapped meager pension and my as-yet-untapped meager Social security. If I only tap one, I’d be better starting the pension and holding off until 66 on the Social Security. Just the 8% difference between taking SS at 65 or at 66 is 8 percent. Where else can I get 8% on my investment for a year. So if we can hold off and I can find part-time employment in FL (maybe doing taxes for H&R Block), great. If I need to choose between tapping pension or Social Security, better to take the pension while my SS grows.

    by Steve — April 6, 2012

  43. Steve:
    The 8% increase is great but you are giving up a full year of cash benefits to get the 8% increase. For instance, if your benefit at 65 is $1,000 per month and you benefit at 66 is $1,080 (8% more), then you are giving up $12,000 from age 65 to age 66 in cash benefits to get $80 per month more. The break-even age for you would be age 78.5. This is the $12,000 that you give up divided by $960 per year ($80 times 12 months) or 12.5 years past age 66. If you factor in the time value of the money it is even longer. You will be age 79-80 before you make back the money you gave up from 65 until 66.
    After age 80 you would actually make money.

    Your longevity crystal ball can only tell you if this is a good idea or not.

    Editor’s note: I think you have those figures about right. Here are a couple of other articles that shed more light on this. Plus, a wondeful chart that shows what you get compared to when you start taking the benefit – the actual numbers make it easier to understand.

    by ELF, CPA — April 7, 2012

  44. 😥 My wife and I are 65. I am entitled to full benefits for what I contributed…not a lot. My wife is not qualified. We are retired educators in Ct. Whwn I die my wife will not receive any of my benefits because of teacher’s state pension. Therefore I am going to claim SS when I turn 66 . Because of teacher pension penalty in state of Ct I will get only 40% of what would be full benefits!!!!!

    by peter — April 8, 2012

  45. Peter – Are you refering to your wife not having enough earnings quarters to qualify for Soc Sec benefits? Also, when you die, why would your wife NOT get your soc sec benefits (i.e., I cannot understand how a state pension would impact this)?. Again, if you begin soc sec payments @ age 66, I cannot see how your state pension would reduce it (or does somehow CT reduce *their* pension if one is getting soc sec … that sounds auwful, but who knows in this crazy world). Perhaps you (and others) may be in similar situation as myself and wife. “Mrs. Monk” is 10 years younger. I am 64. I may work until either 66 or 70. I do not really WANT to work until 70, but may do so so that when I die, she can take over my maximum benefits (and give up her lower one, which she will commence at age 67). She will probably outlive me by ~20 years, which could help her a lot (especially since my health benefits stop for her upon my death). Yes, I realize that we are fortunate to even have health bennies, but this would be a BIG impact on her. We are no nearly “rich” (other than in having each other, two great sons, and a grandchild!), but I would like to have SOME security in our older years. Perhaps ELF, or others, can input more. Also, thanks to editor for the two links.

    by Mad Monk — April 10, 2012

  46. monk
    yes sounds terrible but ct my ss is penalized because of my teachers retiement!!and my wife who does not have enough quarters,will recive nothing after I die because her retiement from state teachers is more than ss would be!
    hopefully law will change!!

    by peter — April 11, 2012

  47. There are two laws which impact retirees receiving pensions based on employment for which they did not pay into Social Security. These are the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). You can read all about them on the Social Security website.

    by LS — April 11, 2012

  48. I have opers retirement from the state of Ohio, 20 years. I also have 25 years in SSN I will lose about
    40 % of my SSN when I retire, unless i work 5 more years in the private sector and get 30 years in SSN.

    by Don — April 11, 2012

  49. Yes, I will be screwed by WEP because I worked as a teacher for almost 20 years. I worked and paid into SS for about 31 years, but some of those years I did not earn enough to “count”.It doesn’t seem right that I would be penalized for teaching, and drawing a small retirement from that, when trying to collect my SS benefits. It makes no sense at all-I put the time in and paid; I have also received statements that show what I would get if I begin taking my SS at 62 and if I wait until I am 66, but that changes because of WEP. How is this remotely fair? Can anyone truly answer this?

    by diandto — April 12, 2012

  50. The Social Security calculation is complex and it would take all day to explain. However, in simple terms, it is a weighted formula which provides a relatively greater benefit to people who have not had a history of earning higher wages. SS uses your reported wages over 35 years to compute the benefit. If you were not paying into SS for the years when you were covered by a Government retirement system, then you did not have “substantial” earnings for those years. Thus, with no SS wages being reported, you would appear to be someone who was making little or nothing and thus your SS benefit would be computed to provide you a greater benefit. Congress realized that this was creating a “Windfall” for people who were receiving a Government pension because they were not actually low wage earners during their working years. Congress modified the SS formula in 1983 to eliminate the windfall in SS benefits for such people. Given current fiscal difficulty with SS, it is unlikely that Congress will be in any mood to change this law.

    by LS — April 13, 2012

  51. Social Security is a huge topic for discussion and everyone’s situation is unique. My point of view is from someone who has always paid the maximum amount required by law into the a system who will never be allowed to collect one cent. Admittedly I don’t need to collect Social Security but to repeat myself I paid in a lot more than most, will get nothing back and am happy to be so fortunate!

    The Windfall Elimination Provision (SSA Publication No. 05-10045) can be read here:

    The rule reads simple enough if you earned a pension and didn’t pay or have to pay your Social Security taxes you get reduced benefits. As always check with your tax attorney and the IRS for accuracy.

    Lastly “fair” only applies to weights and measures. We all build our lives separately.

    by doug0613 — April 13, 2012

  52. doug0513-I am happy for you that you have enough and do not need SS. When one works for many years and pays into the system, well one should receive the benefits of SS. if that is not going to be the case, then don’t send letters out to future recipients as to what the recipient’s SS will be. Either all school districts need to pay into the system, I guess. Teachers, for whatever reason, seem to be always drawing the short straw. I don’t think one career has anything to do with another career and should be treated that way. Public servants seem to be the ones hit hardest with this…

    by diandto — April 14, 2012

  53. Has anyone lived ijn pensacola before?Wanting to retire there?

    by j labhart — April 14, 2012

  54. […] further reference: It Pays to Work in Retirement When Should You Start Taking Your Social Security Benefits 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Start Taking Social Security Too Many Boomers Leave Money on […]

    by » What You Think You Know about Social Security Could Hurt You – Part 1 Topretirements — April 24, 2012

  55. My mother retired at 62. Never worked again, not even part time. She had a very enjoyable retirement until she was about 73 or 74 and then became disabled and was not able to enjoy her retirement. I think about if she had waited until she was 70 she would not have had a lot of time to enjoy her retirement. You get paid more at 70 but what good is it if you have to sign it over to Medicaid to pay for your stay in a nursing home. I am 56 and am getting written up at work and I will do my darndest to do a good job and not get fired. I only have so much talent though. I am just trying to hang on until I’m 62. I will consider myself lucky if I’m able to FIND something to work at until then. Right now I’m looking into ways to support myself if I have to retire at 56.

    by gailh — June 22, 2012

  56. You get more if you retire at 70 but what good is it if you can’t enjoy it? How many quality years does a person have coming at the age of 70. Retiring at 62 will add 8 quality years in retirement.

    by zippy — June 22, 2012

  57. Good point, Zippy. My financial planner keeps going back and forth on this one. I’m 61 and 9 months and want to start collecting at 62. I don’t “need” the money as my teacher’s retirement pay and an annuity are enough, along with part-time teaching (just one comm. college course – but I want to give that up and start to really have fun!). My goal, besides a new car and a few trips, is to pay off my house in 5 or 6 years instead of the 12 that are left on my 15-yr. mortgage. I figure the interest saved will be worth the lower SSI payment. Tax break is not so much at just 3.9% interest. I’m single and want to spend ALL my money before I die (have two IRAs out there as well) – my 13 nieces and nephews can inherit $$$ from their parents.

    by Basil — December 17, 2012

  58. The right time is what is best for each person / couple. I recently retired at 62 and started SS to help make up for my lost income. My husband retired at 63.5 and did not take his. We were planning on taking his at 66 but recently reassesed the situation and decided to start at 65. We calculated it would take 13 years to make up the difference. Part of the decision was that we don’t want to use our investments until we have to, we want to be able to travel & have fun while we are still young & healthy.

    by Kathy — December 18, 2012

  59. We were discussing this today amongst some friends. And I read an article which said that for every month you postpone benefits past your FRA you pick up 2/3 of 1% so in my case if I postpone just 3 months after my B’day to the date I am scheduled to retire from my job, that is 2%. Another strategy would be to sign up and suspend, then draw on my wifes…unsure of the details there need to research that one.

    by Mark — December 18, 2012

  60. Waiting till 66 to start collecting gives your spouse better benefits…in the event you should die. Of course alot of other factors come into play…but the best way would to go to the SS site and review the artilces they have on when to start taking your benefit.

    by Russ — December 19, 2012

  61. Your best bet is to start taking it as soon as you can. I will be 62 and a half come 2-1-2013 and I will start drawing then. I am retiring then and will draw SSI with my pension. No one knows how much time you have before you can’t do things or your gone. Take it while your still able to go do things and enjoy yourselves. I know of to many people who are gone or disabled and can’t do what they want. You can’t take it with you…..

    by Roy W. — December 20, 2012

  62. I took my SS at 62 and never looked back. My husband was still working and we were doing well financially, but I took it for two reasons: 1)I wanted to be in the system (“grandfathered” as it were) in case the Republicans made good on their threats to means-test it, and 2) I read that over 60% of folks sixty-two and older had done the same. True, you get about 75% of what you’d pull at age 66, but do I know I’ll be here then? Do I know the program will be the same? And…since I can’t get insurance since my husband retired last summer, it just about covers our COBRA payment, which is not inexpensive. Everyone’s situation is different,but for me, it was the smartest move.

    by KimbeeJeanq — December 20, 2012

  63. Can a widow (not married for 10 years) receive benefits for her husband’s record when she reach retirement age?

    Editor’s Comment. You should talk with a representative from the Social Security office, but the answer is probably yes, assuming your husband had enough earned credits to qualify in his own right. We searched to see if there is some minimum time that a couple needs to be married before the survivor can collect SS retirement benefit on deceased spouse’s earning record, but could not find an answer. The has to be married 10 years requirement seems to have to do with the rights of divorced spouses. This link will give you more information.

    by susan — January 5, 2014

  64. I’ve been researching widows benefits too, and they are a blessing. I discovered after age 60, I was eligible to receive from 71.5% to 99.5% of my spouse’s benefit. The percentage adjusts when you apply, such as being set at 76.3% at if you apply at age 61, 78.6% if you apply at age 51 + 6 months, 79.4% at if you apply at 61 + 8 months, etc. The SS website has links to lots of info. As I understand it, it is possible to apply for widows benefits and defer receiving SS on your own record (if it is higher) until 66. If you’re still working though, widows benefits are offset by your other income, so you wouldn’t necessarily receive anything.

    It’s definitely a good idea to talk to a SS representative. After my spouse died this year, I called Social Security about the $255 death benefit. I was given an appointment to make a telephone application. In that telephone interview, the representative told me that the call is used to go through other benefits with the widow/widower. I was told, for example, that if I wanted widows benefits I should apply as soon as possible since they commence from the date of application, not from the death. The representative was very helpful. It’s a little bit of a safety net for me to know that if I get laid off before my chosen retirement date, I will be able to apply for widows benefits until I’m able to get SS on my own earning record.

    Just a note – the representative also told me that I would need a certified copy of the marriage certificate, birth certificates and a certified copy of the death certificate when I applied for widows’ benefits. I had to hunt down a certified copy of the marriage certificate, and pay a fee. It took awhile, so this is something that you might want to do if you don’t already have a copy in your records.

    by Sharon — January 6, 2014

  65. SS survivor benefits are not just for widows. Surviving husbands can collect them too, as long as your income requirements are met. In my case, I discovered this when I went to apply for my Ss retirement benefits at 62. I was informed that I could have been receiving survivor benefits at 60. At least I received a 12 month retroactive payment.

    by Bill Yoder — January 6, 2014

  66. My mother (who divorced my father in 80) never remarried and received her own SS when she was eligible. When my father died in 2001 she received widow/spouse benefits plus my father’s new wife receive benefits too. My mother’s benefits went from about $600 a month or less to $1200.

    by kathleen — January 6, 2014

  67. If you have the funds here is a strategy to think about. Hold off collecting social security until the eldest of the two spouses reaches the normal retirement age. File and suspend and the other spouse can draw the spousal benefit. Using funds from a (self-annuitized) 401K or 403B to help you get to the normal retirement age will draw down those funds but also will help when you need to take the required minimum distribution which is based on the value of your 401K or 403B account every year after age 70.5.this can hold down on income tax in later years. While there is no crystal ball you can get an idea of your personal longevity by looking at your family history. This may not work for you if your family history shows that you don’t have longevity in your family. Check out for a free analysis. NOTE: in order to use the file and suspend one of you needs to reach the normal retirement age.

    by jon — January 6, 2014

  68. My husband took a buy out from his job last year, & now is on unemployment. When that is up he will be working again, but he may not be able to get full time work. He is 59, & plans to take his SS benefits when he is 62. He earned a high income for 27 years. I will be 61 in Aug & plan to work till I am 65. But, we will only be married 9 years @ that time. We live in WI. Will I be able 2 collect part of his SS benefits? I will have made less money then him in my lifetime.

    by Debby I — July 5, 2015

  69. For any of you who took Social Security at age 62 and kept working either full time or part time and took the hit of losing $1 for every $2 earned can you tell us the pro’s and con’s of this?

    Would it make sense for someone in a low income job, who does make maybe $5-6,000 a year more than the Social Security limit of $15,720 a year to take their Social Security check and bank the money? If a person were to collect $1,000 a month for the 48 months prior to full retirement at 66 years of age they could collect $48,000 and sock it away. However they wouldn’t actually collect that if they are hit with the $1 penalty for every $2 made over $15,720. On $6,000 more income over the $15,720 they would lose $3,000 a year times 4 years or $12,000 subtracted from the $48,000 which would equal $36,000 you could put in the bank.

    Seems like a good way to create a nest egg for those who have low income.

    What are your views on this? I know that SS recalculates the SS amount at age 66 so the SS check would be more than $1,000 a month at that point.

    by Louise — September 25, 2015

  70. Once SS benefits are started at age 62, that figure will be locked in(except for cola adjustments). There is no recalculation or increasing of your benefit if you start to collect.

    by Doc Stickel — September 26, 2015

  71. You are locked in but if you continue to work the SSA reevaluates you each year to determine if your benefit goes up.

    See this article:

    by Louise — September 26, 2015

  72. I was laid off three years ago and have not been able to find a new job. I am now 64 and decided to apply for SS benefits. Here is my reasoning. My benefits will come to $1541 a month. If I waited until age 66, the benefit would be $1756. A difference of
    $215. At $1,541 for 24 months, my income will be $36,984. Divide that by $215 and you get 172 months or 14 years. So my break-even age is 78 years old. But I will not be losing $215/mth after 78. Let’s do some speculation on how long I might live beyond 78. If I live another 20 years and die at age 84, here is the income difference.
    $1541 x 240/mths = $369,840 and $1756 x 216/mths = $379,296. That is a difference of $9,456. Spread that difference through the 240 months and I would lose only $39/mth. Let’s say I live until 94 (one can hope, can’t they?). Using the same formula. $1541 x 360 = $554,760 and $1756 x 336 = $590,016. That makes a difference of $35,256. Spread that out over 30 years (360 months) and it comes to only $98 that I would actually be losing each month. So I guess I’m gambling of losing less than $1200 a year for 30 years in order to live better today.

    by Tom — September 26, 2015

  73. Louise and Debbie I, My husband retired at full soc. sec. age and kept on working. His benefit went up every year until he retired 10 years later. I’d say, if you can wait – wait! My best to you both.

    by ella — September 27, 2015

  74. Understood, Louise, but as I read the comment from you previously, I might have mistakenly thought you were starting at 62. Sorry.

    by Doc stickel — September 27, 2015

  75. Louise, thank you for the link on working and taking SS! The web page answered all my questions. I know I have to work beyond my FRA, but I want to take SS at the FRA so I can access that money to pay off debt and save money. Really appreciate the link share.

    by Elaine C. — September 27, 2015

  76. I am 64 years old and am being laid off the end of October and given 6 months severance which will bring me to the age of 65 years old. Questions:
    1) Should I file for unemployment and would I be eligible to collect social security at the same time? or
    2) Can I file for SS and suspend my benefits and collect off my husband’s benefits (he is 69 years old) and collect unemployment till it runs out and then apply for SS? or
    3) ShouldI apply for unemployment benefits and still collect off my husbands social security?

    Thank you

    by Linda Burkett — October 2, 2015

  77. Just applied for my Social Security benefits. They will start the third week of January! I will be 62 years old and 5 months old.

    Anyone else starting in January? WOO HOO! Very Happy!

    We are on Obama Care and have to be careful not to go over the income threshold and still get the subsidy. Anyone who is retiring and and plan to go on Obama Care, be careful to add up all of your income. The upper threshold for two people on Obama Care in CT is $63,700. Allow a little fudge room in case you should get a dividend or some type of unexpected income.

    by Louise — October 5, 2015

  78. Congrats, Louise. Did you specify the week that you want them to start, or is that the soonest they can start if you apply now? I’m trying to figure out if I should be planning on lead-time. If so, how much lead time? Did you make an appointment with a SS office to apply in person, or did you apply on-line? Any tips for the actual application process, or did you think it was painless?

    by Ted — October 6, 2015

  79. Ted, The process is pretty painless. I did it online. If you’re 62 or over, the process takes about 60 days to get your first check. I applied Sept.1st and will get my check October 28th. I didn’t have the opportunity to pick which day the checks will come. Mine is the fourth Wednesday of each month. Not sure why Louise’s check is taking so long. It seems she turned 62 in August of this year.

    by Tom — October 6, 2015

  80. Ted, I applied on line. I had helped the HUB earlier in the year so his SS application. He gave me moral support yesterday when I did the application and we sat in front of the computer together to double check no mistakes were made. It is really a painless process. It is all simple questions like:
    Name, address, phone number
    Do you work, will you work after you receive you SS check. I said no and if you said yes they may question income.
    Previous names you have used. In my case, my maiden name and previously I used an initial for a middle name I don’t legally have. It was a Confirmation name. So you list all ‘alias’s’ you have used.
    They ask if you are married, your spouses name, SS number, if you are divorced. There are more questions but all is very simple. At the end of the process they will ask where you want the money deposited. You have two choices, savings or checking. You need to supply the account number.

    Yes, I chose the date to start. There is a drop down window of dates to chose from. From what I have learned, if your birthday falls from 1-10th of the month it is the second Wednesday. If you birthday falls on the 11-20th your date is the third Wednesday of the month and if you birthday falls on the 21-31st it is the 4th Wednesday of the month. It rings true for my Hub his BD falls on the 7th and he gets his check the 2nd Wednesday and mine is the 13th and will be the third Wednesday.

    Very easy process. I had no questions to go to an SS office. Oh, and in a few days a SS person will call and go over your application then they tell you when your check will be deposited and the actual amount. It didn’t calculate how much I will get. I got the paper statement earlier in the year but it will be a little more than that calculation.

    Good luck with it. Just take your time and make sure all is accurate! It probably took 20 minutes but would have taken less if I hadn’t checked it over and over for mistakes!

    by Louise — October 6, 2015

  81. Tom, I chose January to start my SS. I could have gotten it earlier but don’t want to start that stream of income till next year otherwise I will exceed the income limit to receive the subsidy for Obamacare. I also applied now so I can get the letter from SS stating what my income will be from SS next year so I can send a copy to the Marketplace for Obamacare. They need to know any change in income to recalculate your income to be eligible for the tax subsidy.

    by Louise — October 6, 2015

  82. All, thanks for sharing so much information on this. I’ll be applying April 2016 to get my SS in July, when I’ll reach FRA mid-month. The Obamacare info is important! I’m on Medicare now (still covered by my college’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan), and need to check how Obamacare and Medicare work together, if at all. I’m not sure if I’m retiring in 2016 or not. I keep flip-flopping. I met with a Wells Fargo rep last week about retirement, and she said that I have a good plan, and if I follow it, I could retire on my next birthday. Eek! I’m committed to the plan, but terrified of giving up my job since I’m the only earner in my family of 1+critters. I will have to continue working after I relocate, and I know I cannot stay where I am now for a number of reasons. I love living in the rural Sonoran desert. I would love to stay, but it makes no sense realistically. If I have no more horses, then I need to move on to the next chapter of my life. Where I’m moving to is pretty wonderful too, so I’ll give up something to gain something. I’m really happy for everyone who is moving forward with retirement. Congratulations to you all!

    by Elaine C. — October 6, 2015

  83. Thank you for the detailedinformation. This was really helpful for figuring out when to apply. It’s really helpful to know that I will be able to designate when benefits will start,so I can put freedom day on the calendar. I’ll probably work through the beginning of the year to get to the amount of income that can be nontaxable before claiming SS benefits.

    by Ted — October 7, 2015

  84. Ted, here is the ‘special rule’ for the first year of Social Security if you have worked part of the year. Look at the examples listed. Earnings BEFORE collecting SS are not counted. Earnings after receiving SS ARE counted.This is for the first year only that this special rule applies. This is for people collecting before full retirement age.

    by Louise — October 7, 2015

  85. According to info that is clearly on the Social Security website, it isn’t possible to request exactly when during the course of the month that you can receive your benefit . According to the Social Security website, the time of the month that you receive your benefit is determined by your birthday (or the birthday of the person on whose record you receive benefits) and cannot be changed. It is stated as follows:

    Date of Birth: Payment Date
    1st through 10th Second Wednesday
    11th through 20th Third Wednesday
    After the 20th Fourth Wednesday

    However, beneficiaries who started receiving benefits prior to May 1997 or who are receiving both Social Security benefits and SSI payments receive their benefits on the 3rd day of every month.

    You can apply for your Social Security benefits when you are at least 61 years and 9 months of age. Also, you should also apply for your benefits 3 months before you want your benefits to actually start.

    Hope that this info helps!

    by Valerie L. — October 7, 2015

  86. One thing to remember. I signed up for SS and my start date was January. However, like a job, they make you wait a month to receive your first check. I screwed up but it isn’t the end of the world. Just thought I’d pass that along to you who are going to apply. I should have had my start date as December to receive the first check in January.

    by Louise — October 10, 2015

  87. I just turned 62 and have spoken to social security many times and get different answers. I was planning on waiting until 66 to apply for my social security and applying for my ex husband at 62. I have been told both that I have to file for mine and it is whoever is greatest or I can can just file for his. We were married for over 30 years. So I am still confused. Also I spoke to a financial planner who said he would check it out. I am still working and the taking one dollar for each two earned after 15,000 or so comes back to you. Like a savings plan. That was the first time I heard that. Confused again. And I thought taxes we difficult to understand….this is such a major decision. I can’t afford mistakes. If anyone can enlighten me please do.

    by Kathy — October 11, 2015

  88. For those of you who plan to work till full retirement age (FRA) this article may be of interest to you especially if you are low on retirement savings. I read this quickly and didn’t digest it much but looks like if your FRA is 66 years old and you wait another 6 full months you can request those 6 months of money you didn’t take! So if you were to be eligible for $2,000 per month at age 66 and 6 months you could get a check for $12,000! If you spouse does the same they could also get another $12,000 if they were eligible. However, the downside is that you have to add that money to your income so taxes will be higher.

    See a financial adviser!

    by Louise — October 12, 2015

  89. Kathy,
    There are now financial advisors out there that specialize in Social Security. I would get there advise before making any decisions. What your suggesting might be the best approach but I would run it by an expert to make sure.

    by Jim C — October 13, 2015

  90. This strategy will not work for me because I have already applied to start SS before my FRA but I have a girlfriend who works at a low paying job and is struggling to save for retirement. She plans to work till she reaches FRA and I mentioned this to her as a possible way to get a lump sum for waiting as little as 6 months more. I told her to speak to an adviser. I am no expert here! It is an interesting concept!

    by Louise — October 13, 2015

  91. Concerning Soc. Sec. The BEST advice I’ve heard is from Prof. Rick Plumb on a 2 hour morning show from 10-12.
    It can be view over the internet at

    by Dick Lugar — October 13, 2015

  92. I have spent time last week on Retirementegg a retirement planning site. I found the retirement by state link very informative and up to date. Research is the key to successful retirement planning.

    by DeyErmand — October 13, 2015

  93. OK, let me give this a try. In April of 2016 my Wife will be 62. I will be 64 in June of 2016. I have read every article on when or not to file. This is what I think we should do. My wife should file at age 62 and collect until I turn 66. At that time my wife should suspend her SS and I should file and suspend my SS. At that time my wife would apply for spousal SS on my account. With this plan we have income coming in when my wife turns 62 then she suspends her SS when I turn 66 and files for spousal SS, that way we have some income coming in and both of our SS grows until we reach 70. Any help would be great. Thank you, Bob and Barb.

    by Bob & Barb — October 13, 2015

  94. All of these ideas about when to start and stop taking your SS benefit are very interesting, as well as intriguing. However, have you ever actually had to communicate with representatives from the SSA? Whenever I retired a few years back, I applied online for my benefits and had absolutely no problem whatsoever in starting up my cash benefit. Medicare was a piece of cake, too, because since I had already been collecting my SS cash benefit, the SSA had my information and automatically sent me the info in order to apply for Medicare, Parts A & B. However, whenever my husband applied for his benefits, his situation was a but more complicated in that he was going to be working for just a few more months before he actually started taking his benefits, and there was also the subject of Medicare that he needed to apply for (Part A), but he didn’t need Part B to start up until a few months later since he was still covered by his health insurance with his employer. We had several conversations with a number of representatives, and everyone of them had a different spin on what my husband needed to do which was very confusing. Not only that, but at one point we actually had to visit our local SSA office, and even then we encountered a representative who obviously didn’t know what he was doing, because he gave my husband a form to take back for completion by his employer that in the end didn’t need to be submitted to SSA afterall, and this we learned only after we went back to the SSA office to submit the completed form. So obviously these SSA reps are not all on the same page, nor do they all completely understand the rudiments of their own system. Needless to say, this all made for a very frustrating and time-consuming experience, So don’t be at all surprised if starting and stopping and then starting up your benefits again doesn’t turn out to be a more complicated procedure with the SSA than what you think it will be. Moral of the story: Bring your patience along with you whenever you are dealing with the SSA.

    by Valerie L. — October 14, 2015

  95. Louise – thank you for the link! While reading the article about waiting for SS and taking a lump sum, I clicked on a related article. This was about the new rate increases in a medicare arriving in 2016. Happy Birthday Boomers! For those folks, like my hubby who will turn 65 in 2016 and will be a new medicare enrollee, the rate will be about 33% more, not the current $104 monthly deduction. Also, there will be other additional costs if income levels two years ago, in 2014 were lucrative. My husband had his best income year ever in 2014 – wouldn’t you know! He will be paying more than double for Medicare part B! A bitter pill to swallow as our retirement income beginning Jan. 1 will be 1/3 of our 2014 income. Does anyone know if the Medicare rate is figured every year or are we stuck at this high penalty rate forever?

    by SandyZ — October 14, 2015

  96. Bob & Barb, the file and suspend option is very confusing to me! I suggest you talk to a Social Security person.

    Here is an article that I read but still can’t wrap my head around it. I understand the concept but as far as the ages you can do this at still confuses me!

    by Louise — October 14, 2015

  97. SandyZ,
    The Medicare rate is figured annually. When my husband turned 65 he was initially charged the lower rate. We have been converting some regular IRA’s into Roth’s so have had higher income and now both of us pay the higher Medicare rate. Once we our done with that our income will go down and we will be back to the lower rate.

    by Kathy — October 14, 2015

  98. Kathy, can you tell us the advantage of converting regular IRA’s to Roth? I spoke to our Tax person and didn’t recommend it to us. It has been a while and I have kind of forgotten why other than maybe it would put us in a higher tax bracket. I so wish we had done some Roth’s but we always did the regular IRA’s/401k’s.

    by Louise — October 14, 2015

  99. The discussions I’ve had with SS have always left something to be desired. Prof. Rick Plumb at has always been able to fully explain questions I’ve had and questions that have come up during his program. He is available at his website M-F or I can also see him on the BiZ TV network.

    by Dick L — October 14, 2015

  100. Just a note for those whose SS checks come at the end of the month – don’t forget that in the month of death, the check has to be returned. Just one more thing for a grieving spouse to deal with, especially if your budget is based on both checks.

    by Sharon — October 15, 2015

  101. Sharon, I remember this happening to my Mom years ago when my Father passed away. As I recall, they automatically withdrew the check from the checking account without any warning. Lucky she didn’t bounce any checks. She was extremely upset over it.

    by Louise — October 15, 2015

  102. Just one clarification: Your SS check is payment for the previous month. You must survive the entire month to receive a payment. Therefore, a check received anytime during the month following your passing must be returned.

    by Gene S — October 15, 2015

  103. Gene – That makes sense, but it is certainly confusing. My spouse’s check was paid a week before he died (2 years ago). I pulled out the letter that I received from SS to check. The letter from SS just stated that the check had to be returned because he did not survive the entire month.

    Another interesting note is that getting the tiny funeral benefit took months. Applying for it requred an appointment for a phone interview before the application paperwork was sent out. The representative told me that SS does this intentionally, so that it can provide some counseling on survivor’s SS benefits to the remaining spouse. Collecting that $255 took a little persistence. It was still easier than collecting a small spousal life insurance policy from my employer though…the benefits department seemed very confused about why any employee would actually file a claim, lost paperwork repeatedly (even when it was sent by certified mail), and I heard “the check request was sent to accounting” and “the check is in the mail” countless times before it actually showed up a few months after the claim had been filed. Very unexpected experience.

    by Sharon — October 16, 2015

  104. I retired from state service from Maine government, and I worked for 12 plus years now under social security, and years before State service had worked under social security.
    I now have Florida residensy and plan to draw social security benifits next year. Will I be cut by the government offset because of Maine retirement, or no because of my Florida residensy?

    by Harry — January 8, 2016

  105. Harry;

    If you receive a pension from Maine and were not paying Social Security during that period of service, the computation of your Social Security benefit will be subject the the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). There is a detailed explanation of the WEP on the Social Security website. Your state of residence will have no effect on how your SS benefit is computed. However, because Florida does not have a state income tax, your SS benefits will not be subject to any state income tax but, depending on you income, may be subject to Federal income tax.

    by LS — January 9, 2016

  106. Harry – just moved from Maine where I also received a state pension for teaching in the public schools. I also worked other jobs before and during my teaching career, paying into SS all those years. Thanks to the WEP, my small SS check will not even pay for Medicare part B! Go to your nearest SS office – they will run the numbers for you. The benefits that you paid for all of those years will probably fund other folks retirement, not yours- great, huh? But thank you for your service to Maine kids!

    by SandyZ — January 9, 2016

  107. Thanks – lots of interesting information.

    Has anyone actually done the file & suspend? I have just come in under the wire to be able to use this but I have not determined exactly how to accomplish it. Can it be done online?

    Also, my wife is 62 now. If we do the file and suspend will she have to claim retirement and be locked into her SS at this age or will she be able to then file for SS at FRA and get the additional money?

    Thanks for your help.

    by Peter — January 11, 2016

  108. Peter,
    Recently spoke to Soc. Sec. about this issue, and from what i was told, your wife will be able to get FRA at 66 up to 70 years of age. Which ever you both decide on.

    by ella — January 12, 2016

  109. I have a estimated 646.00 a month benefits if I retire at 62, I had to quit my job and move to another state. It has been almost a year and have not found work, at 66 I have a estimated 823.00 month, my question is if I don”t find work and I turn 66 (am 63 now) will those amounts stay the same? or are they reduced due to my being unemployed for 3 years.
    thank you

    by cynthia — October 20, 2016

  110. I think they are reduced since you may have a few years of zero employment and therefore not able to pay the SS tax. It is very hard for those who do not make a lot of money or get annual increases regularly. It lowers how much your benefits will be. That is why I asked if older persons who must take less in SS benefits if they are forced to take lower paying jobs as they age. I had to take a lesser paying job when I lost my seniority of 12.5 years at a medical practice which was purchased by a conglomerate. The next medical practice that hired me (nurse) paid considerably less and it was so stressful that I had to leave after three years. Now I work with a Church and they do not pay any more than I made at the last job, but the benefits are good.

    by Jennifer — October 21, 2016

  111. Cynthia, check out to find a job. If you have worked 35 years, I doubt your amounts will change.

    by DeyErmand — October 21, 2016

  112. Cynthia,

    These Blog articles on Social Security and comments that follow will also help to answer your question:

    by Admin — October 21, 2016

  113. C, go to, use their calculator for estimates and put in 0 for earnings at different ages.

    by Billy — October 21, 2016

  114. I spoke to Soc. Securiy this week. I will be 65 and I am still working and paying into Soc. Security. The gentleman at SS told me that my ex. Husband’s earinings were so substantially greater thsn mine that even if I continue working until 70, I would not get to half of his amount. So, I gather that I am paying into Social Security for no reason at this point. If I start collecting half of my ex’s amount when I turn 65 next month, I will earn 100 dollars less than if I wait for a year to FRA. I am tired and not doing too great at work anymore. I don’t have a penison, but do get alimony and have a small savings. I am tempted to resign and find a part time job to keep me busy. I do like working, but my job is getting more demanding and more than full time. Am I missing something? Do you think what he otld me is accurate? How would I know if it wasn’t? Thanks.

    by MeyNB — October 22, 2016

  115. A break even analysis:

    by Louise — October 23, 2016

  116. MeyNB, you can start collecting on your Ex’s and then switch to your own when you are 70 and probably get a much larger amount.

    by Mary11 — October 23, 2016

  117. Mary11, they told me that even if I wait until 70, mine will never catch up to half of his. I did stay home to raise a family for some years. I don’t know how I would know if the gentleman I spoke to is correct.

    by MaryNB — October 23, 2016

  118. maryNB,
    Sounds like SS might have given you the correct information. My situation is I’ve earned more money than my husband who is 10 yrs younger than me ,so I will be claiming next year at the age of 62. I am a caregiver to my elderly mother and need the money now. Good luck to you….

    by Mary11 — October 24, 2016

  119. MaryNB
    I know in PA there is SS and Medicare counseling available, sponsored by our local counties and the state. There may be that available also, where you live, to get a second opinion. If there are real concerns, it may be advisable to consult with a CPA or financial planner.

    by Staci — October 24, 2016

  120. Thank you all for your information

    by cynthia — October 24, 2016

  121. can I draw from my husbands ss disability? he is 62 I am 63

    by rayne — October 24, 2016

  122. I filed for my SS to start at age 65 this coming December. Filed online in September. Still says no decision made when I check online. Tried to call last Friday and they say they have no one available (after going through about 5 minutes of different prompts) and it hangs up on me. Called local office and it gets routed to the same system. Starting to get worried about no decision, although I really don’t see what the “decision” is. I get annual statements, am clearly old enough, so not sure what would take so long.

    by Pat — October 24, 2016

  123. Pat, I went through the same thing, after I applied I got an instant email that said I would hear in 5 business days. After 7 business days I called (800-772-1213) and after answering a few robo questions I was told it would be a 40 minute wait to talk to a human, but I opted for the “call back” option. A rep called me back within an hour, asked me a few questions, and told me that although the web site said “no decision was made”, my application was accepted. I said I didn’t get an email about it and she explained that no email would be sent, it will be mailed USPS. I have not waited as long as you have, just 10 days, but I haven’t gotten anything yet. But using the phone number above I got through without a problem and when I asked how long before I get a confirmation letter she just said “It will be coming” (?)

    by Jemmie248 — October 24, 2016

  124. I called twice now (just tried again this afternoon) and got the disconnect again when it just said all agents are busy. Call back later. I am not getting the option for them to call me, which would be great. Guess I will just keep trying.

    by Pat — October 24, 2016

  125. Pat & Jemmie248 if you are not getting through or any response within a reasonable time frame call your State Rep/Senator’s Office they normally have people in the office and can help with getting through & you should get some type of action back. Good luck!

    by Sue M — October 25, 2016

  126. Never thought of calling Claire McCaskill. She is a personal friend I went to university with. And it is not even an election year for her. 🙂

    by Pat — October 25, 2016

  127. I haven’t applied yet, but I have called in January for the last two years to check on my benefits if I get laid off and have no further earnings. I waited on the phone and it took about 45 minutes to get through. The reps have been very nice. My benefit went up about $100 month with each year of additional work.

    Can someone tell me if you can designate the month when benefits start? And when do you actually apply? If I turn 66 at the end of March, should I file for benefits in January and ask for benefits to start in March, or should I ask for benefits to start in April to be sure that I’m credited with reaching full retirement age?

    by Kate — October 26, 2016

  128. Kate
    The best answer to your question is found on the SS website. Look for “when should I apply” topics.
    Good luck

    by Staci — October 26, 2016

  129. Kate,
    Staci is right the best answer to your question would be found on the SS website.
    Within this blog article are some links that would also be helpful, and check out the ones under More Resources at the end of the article, including this one from the Social Security Administration:

    by Jane at Topretirements — October 26, 2016

  130. Kate,
    Also agree with Kate that the answer to your question is on the website. I just applied online this week, and I reach FRA (full retirement age, ie 66) in about 3 months, Feb 2017. Basically, you can’t select the month to start benefits unless you are taking a ‘reduced’ benefit before your FRA. At FRA, you are paid in arrears by one month. So benefits start for you at end of April, since your FRA is in late March. You could apply online in late December, 3 months before your FRA. Cheers, & welcome to retirement!

    by Bill S. — October 26, 2016

  131. Here is a breakeven calculator I found:

    Look at your SS statement for the dollars they provide for age 62, 66 and 70 and plug it into the calculator to get an idea on when your breakeven year is.

    by Louise — November 14, 2017

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