When is it good to start So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits?


En­joy­ing a com­fort­able re­tire­ment is every­one’s dream. For over 80 years, So­cial Se­cu­rity has been help­ing peo­ple re­al­ize those dreams, as­sist­ing peo­ple through life’s jour­ney with a va­ri­ety of ben­e­fits. It’s up to you as to when you can start re­tire­ment ben­e­fits. You could start them a lit­tle ear­lier or wait un­til your “full re­tire­ment age.” There are ben­e­fits to ei­ther de­ci­sion, pun in­tended.

Full re­tire­ment age refers to the age when a per­son can re­ceive their So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits with­out any re­duc­tion, even if they are still work­ing part or full time. In other words, you don’t ac­tu­ally need to stop work­ing to get your full ben­e­fits.

For peo­ple who at­tain age 62 in 2017 (i.e., those born be­tween Jan­uary 2, 1955, and Jan­uary 1, 1956), full re­tire­ment age is 66 and two months. Full re­tire­ment age was age 65 for many years. How­ever, due to a law passed by Congress in 1983, it has been grad­u­ally in­creas­ing, be­gin­ning with peo­ple born in 1938 or later, un­til it reaches 67 for peo­ple born af­ter 1959.

You can learn more about the full re­tire­ment age and find out how to look up your own at www. s o c i a l s e c u r i t y. g o v / p l a n ners/re­tire/re­tirechart. html.

You can start re­ceiv­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits as early as age 62 or any time af­ter that. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly ben­e­fit will be, al­though it stops in­creas­ing at age 70. Your monthly ben­e­fits will be re­duced per­ma­nently if you start them any time be­fore your full re­tire­ment age. For ex­am­ple, if you start re­ceiv­ing ben­e­fits in 2017 at age 62, your monthly ben­e­fit amount will be re­duced per­ma­nently by about 26 per­cent.

On the other hand, if you wait to start re­ceiv­ing your ben­e­fits un­til af­ter your full re­tire­ment age, then your monthly ben­e­fit will be higher. The amount of this in­crease is two-thirds of one per­cent for each month –– or 8 per­cent for each year –– that you de­lay re­ceiv­ing them un­til you reach age 70. The choices you make may af­fect any ben­e­fit your spouse or chil­dren can re­ceive on your record, too. If you re­ceive ben­e­fits early, it may re­duce their po­ten­tial ben­e­fit, as well as yours.

You need to be as in­formed as pos­si­ble when mak­ing any de­ci­sion about re­ceiv­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits. Read the pub­li­ca­tion When to Start Re­ceiv­ing Re­tire­ment Ben­e­fits at www.so­cialse­cu­rity.gov/ pubs/EN-05-10147.pdf.

If you de­cide to re­ceive ben­e­fits be­fore you reach full re­tire­ment age, you should also un­der­stand how con­tin­u­ing to work can af­fect your ben­e­fits. So­cial Se­cu­rity may with­hold or re­duce your ben­e­fits if your an­nual earn­ings ex­ceed a cer­tain amount. How­ever, for ev­ery month ben­e­fits are with­held, it in­creases your fu­ture ben­e­fits. That’s be­cause at your full re­tire­ment age So­cial Se­cu­rity will re­cal­cu­late your ben­e­fit amount to give you credit for the months in which ben­e­fits were re­duced or with­held due to your ex­cess earn­ings.

In ef­fect, it’s as if you hadn’t filed for those months. You can learn more at www.so­cialsecu rity.gov/plan­ners/re­tire/ while­work­ing.html.

So­cial Se­cu­rity’s mis­sion is to se­cure your to­day and to­mor­row. Help­ing you make the right re­tire­ment de­ci­sions is vi­tal. You can learn more by vis­it­ing our Re­tire­ment Plan­ner at www.so­cialse­cu­rity.gov/ plan­ners/re­tire.

Carolyn Ni­chols is the So­cial Se­cu­rity Dis­trict Man­ager in Cam­bridge.

Twelve rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Kent and Queen Anne’s coun­ties par­tic­i­pated in the United Se­niors of Mary­land Leg­isla­tive Fo­rum on Jan. 25 in An­napo­lis. More than 500 at­tend the event each year, meet­ing with state gov­ern­ment and leg­isla­tive lead­ers to ad­vo­cate for the in­ter­ests of older adults. From left: Muriel Cole of Ch­ester­town, An­nie Sparks of Church Hill, Nancy Cow­drey of Ch­ester­town, Karen Smith of Stevensville, Lea Hun­ley of Still Pond, Richard Cooper of Cen­tre­ville, Margie Baker of Ch­ester­town, Bon­nie Wal­ter of Stevensville, Gary Gun­ther of Queen Anne, Sharon Dar­ling of Bar­clay, Su­san Eddy of Ch­ester­town and Carolyn Sorge of Bet­ter­ton. Six­teen oth­ers from the Mid- and Lower Shore also at­tended. The par­tic­i­pants met with a to­tal of six of the 11 East­ern Shore leg­is­la­tors, in ad­di­tion to Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate Mike Miller, Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch, Sec­re­tary Rona Kramer, De­part­ment of Ag­ing, and other se­nior of­fi­cials.

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