All through our lives we have been told not to procrastinate. Waiting to do something later has always been frowned upon and growing up I was always told: “Más vale pájaro en mano que cien volando.” The phrase is an old famous proverb that says it is better to hold on to the sure thing than to wait for the hundreds of opportunities that might come up in the future.

Whoever wrote that saying never had to deal with the Social Security Administration. As you may know, you are allowed to collect social security once you are 62. Though some of you might be looking forward to that date, you will be surprised to find out that 62 is not your full retirement age.

Your full retirement age is the age in which you can get 100% of your very well deserved social security benefit. How do you find out what your full retirement age is? Well, as a rule of thumb, if you were born before 1943, then your full retirement age is 65; from 1943 – 1959, it is 66; and from 1966 onward it is 67.  This means that if you want to get 100% of your benefit, then you will have to wait three, four, or five years from the day you are first eligible to receive social security. If you are a planner like me, this can be a very frustrating situation.

If you were to take your social security benefit at 62, then it will be reduced by a percentage which could reach up to 30%. That could really put a dent in your retirement plan.

Once you start taking the benefit, you are locked into that bracket. However, if you delay taking your social security, the percentage decreases gradually as time goes on and disappears completely by the time you are at full retirement age.

But, there is still some good news!  Did you know that you are eligible to receive Medicare benefits at 65? Yes, even if you have not started receiving your social security benefit you can still receive Medicare benefits. If the government continues to increase the full retirement age, many of us will be in that boat.

Let’s revisit the original question:  do I really need to wait for my social security? The answer is simple: NO, you do not have to, but you might want to consider it. Waiting for full retirement age could be a lot more beneficial for you than to start drawing as soon as you can. However, everyone’s situation is different. It is always important to consider health, family, needs, and other sources of income.

Is your head spinning yet? Well, I could also try to explain present value and the many other factors that affect when and how you will receive your benefits. Also, it is different if you and your spouse both contributed to social security and if there are age differences. Another big factor is if you are receiving, or will receive, a pension from a state or federal agency in the future.

Remember you are not alone in this. We at Godecke Clark can help you sort through all of the different options and help you tailor a plan that is most beneficial for you and your family. Contact us and not only can we review your social security benefit, but we can help you plan all the other aspects of your retirement as well.

Good fortune comes along when you help yourself!









Pablo Romero, MSA