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At What Age Should I Begin Collecting Social Security? -- A Spreadsheet Tool To Help You Calculate When.

Updated on December 26, 2008

At What Age Should I Begin Collecting Social Security Payments? (USA) – A Spreadsheet Tool to Help You Find an Answer.

Age old question! Should I begin collecting Social Security (SS) as soon as I’m eligible or wait? Taking it earlier results in a lower monthly payment; taking it later results in a higher monthly payment. But, taking it sooner means you’ll collect for more years--if you live long enough.

First off: Let me tell you that you may find this article TOTALLY WORTHLESS. However, it WILL give you the CORRECT ANSWER and help lead you through the steps to make a personal decision on this important matter. Finally, I’m making available to you my personal “Delayed Retirement Planner for Social Security Benefits.” This neat tool will help you compare various retirement ages & benefits with the “full retirement age” benefit. (Just email me at bturpen@netzero.net or click on "Contact William Turpen" to the right  and I'll send it. No strings attached. I have nothing to sell!)

DISCLAIMER: I’m NOT a trained financial advisor in any way, shape or form. That's right, I'm proud to admit that I’m not an expert in ANYTHING; at least nothing related to finances or taxes. I’m a 61 year old former business owner who will soon have to make this decision and has struggled with it for the past few years. I’ve spoken to many “experts” and “advisors.” And I am pleased to tell you unequivocally that I HAVE THE ANSWER! Ready?

THE ANSWER: Here it is: The answer is: “It depends.” “WHAT? That’s it?” you moan. Okay, calm down. I know, you’re not happy with that answer. Neither was I. But it IS the correct answer and you need to understand that and not let anyone tell you otherwise. Everyone's situation is different. There are many, many factors to take into consideration. Your year of birth, past & current SSA eligible income, pension/IRA funds, short and long term goals and, yes, even the question “How long do you expect to live?”

IMPORTANT: Before you make this or any financial decision is it VITAL that you seek the advice of a licensed/certified/trained professional financial advisor. If you’re smart you’ll get the advice and guidance of more than one expert.

HOW TO LOCATE A PROFESSIONAL: (Coming soon. I’m completing research right now for a new Hub article “How To Find a Professional [Whatever].” To be notified when that’s posted, click on “Join William Turpen’s Fan Club” (in box on this page, top right side).

So, why am I writing this likely worthless article? Well, I guess I don’t really believe it’s totally worthless. (I just like to keep you expectations low.) The fact is, I know that hundreds of thousands of USA taxpayers are struggling right now with the question of when to start collecting. Second, as I mentioned above, I’ve developed a tool in Excel to help seniors like me to decide whether taking benefits before the “full retirement age” meets you needs and goals. (Email me and ask for the "Social Security tool" and I'll send it with no strings attached--I have nothing to sell.)

REMEMBER, I’M NOT A FINANCIAL PLANNER OR EXPERT. I’m an aging taxpayer who knows how to build a spreadsheet. If the spreadsheet can help you make an informed decision…great.

Okay, let get to it. Here’s my list of how to get to the answer you really want.

  1. Go to the Social Security Administrations website: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator/ There’s a LOT of good information on their website that will help you make a decision. Read it. For now though, just do the following:
  2. Read “How the Estimator Works” and “Who Can Use the Estimator”
  3. Click on the box on the right side of the page: “Estimate Your Retirement Benefits.”
  4. After you answer the questions, you will be shown a very cool chart that provides you with a lot of good, if confusing, information. (Print the chart for reference.)
  5. There’re two numbers you’ll want WRITE DOWN. (You’ll need these numbers to use my SS Benefits Age Tool.) One is the “Benefits at Full Retirement Age.” The other is the “Full Retirement Age.”
  6. Armed with those two numbers, email me at bturpen@netzero.net  for my  “Delayed Retirement Planner” (it's free and I'm not selling anything else).  You’ll need Microsoft Excel or an Excel reader. (You can download the reader free. Google “excel reader” and select the link to Microsoft.)

Hopefully, you’ve found this worthless article helpful, or at least amuzing, and will let me know by giving it a “thumbs up.”

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    • wiseoldaccountant profile image

      wiseoldaccountant 

      7 years ago from Buffalo and Orchard Park NY

      I liked your blog. It will give me a place to go to show people the numbers.

      I am a CPA and I often use a spreadsheet like you did to help people understand the issue, but, as a minister, you can appreciate that a spreadsheet has limited use in this decision.

      The real issue is now long will you live? The social security actuaries did their work with spreadsheets and on an average the it is a tossup. That is why I wrote the blogs: "Should I Go Over the Social Security Limit on Earning?" and "Should I Start Social Security at 62?"

      The real answer is not in the numbers. If a person is under stress and continued work will shorten their life they should retire; they can use part-time non-stressfull works to supplement their benefits. If someone likes their job, they should keep working and start correcting at full retirement age (now 67).

      They can work and start with extra benefits at 70, but, I really do not feel the risk is worth the extra benefits. I hope to post a blog on that issue soon.

      Best wishes,

      Len

      The irony is that if you start early you may live longer and wish you started later.

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