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Social Security: The Smart Move More People Are Making

Being smart about when you take your Social Security benefits is a key driver for your finances in retirement. Fortunately, according to the Social Security Administration, more retirees are getting smarter about their benefits by waiting longer before they make their initial claims.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, takes a closer look at the Social Security Administration's report. Dan notes that the report shows three areas in which retirees are making smarter decisions. First, the percentage of people taking Social Security at the earliest possible age of 62 has declined markedly since 2004, from 50% to 37% among men and from 52% to 42% among women. Second, more people are waiting until they reach their full retirement age, currently 66. Since 2005, those percentages have risen from 22% to 31.5% for men and from 17% to 25% for women. Finally, although the numbers are still small, the percentage of those waiting past full retirement age has doubled in recent years. Dan concludes that more people are getting smart about Social Security, but that there's plenty more work to be done to help people make the best possible choice.

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Read/Post Comments (63) | Recommend This Article (65)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 10:07 AM, skicat wrote:

    Have heard conflicting stories. Is or is it not still able to refund your earlier benefits and then refile and receive benefits at a higher rate? If still able to, please advise where to go to do so. Thank you!

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 10:17 AM, Diamondick wrote:

    I read all these articles and they recommend the exact opposite of what every person I talk with has done....

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 10:17 AM, Dynalee10 wrote:

    Nope ! Thats just what they want people to do so that a certain percentage dies before getting a nickel . The smart play is to get it as soon as you can and then save it if you don't need it at the time .

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 11:05 AM, dusty10x wrote:

    Complete LIES!

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 11:09 AM, Tichelb1 wrote:

    Too bad so many people need to work longer and take SS later. It was ment to supplement retirement, not live off of it!!! Sign of the times...

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 11:09 AM, iu77iu wrote:

    When to begin collecting Social Security is simple. Tell me the date you will die and I will tell you when to start collecting Social Security

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 11:22 AM, jbachilla wrote:

    Its true that if you wait if you can the extra 4 or 5 years you do get more per month BUT by waiting you are missing out in my case $53,000 of my own money. To make up the extra 300 I would getn would take me ten years or more to make that up

    Besides you never know how long you are going to live either

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 12:03 PM, tbeigle wrote:

    Sure, the SSA wants you to wait longer...and you know why? Because....

    Ex.: The life expectancy of a white male (me) in NY is 78. If I had waited until say, ....70 to apply for benefits? I'd get them for the average of only 8 years. Sure, you get more money, in other words, but for a shorter amount of time, on average, if you wait. Just sayin......

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 1:21 PM, CCC wrote:

    Just more propaganda to convince you not to get the benefits you worked for all your life. When I hit 62 I'm going to apply for SS. I'll get reduced benefits, and have to work part-time for a while, but that's okay. All the 'younger' workers want us 'old' people to get out of the work force so they can have our jobs. I'm just helping them out!

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 1:37 PM, tdodson wrote:

    Teachers in some states (like Missouri) are totally ripped off by the SS system. If you have state teacher retirement, regardless of how many SS quarters you have earned by working summers (in my case 40 years) it seems the most you can receive is around $300 a month. They say it has something to do with "windfall earnings." I thought we had a deal. I will loan the government a portion of my income to collect interest on for decades and then I will be paid back upon retirement. Not so. Go figger. I think I know now from which orifice the wind is coming.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 1:46 PM, jearnhart wrote:

    every person's situation is different and they should review all of the facts and make their own decision.

    If you wait to take the extra money then you had better live past 84 years of age to make any more money.

    the shame here is if they are paying these people to write these articles because: I have read the same exact statement by "experts" at least 50 times and their rational is at the very least misleading and faulty. It would take all day to examine all the facts in an individuals case.

    Write about something new and try to get it right.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 1:52 PM, chrystinp wrote:

    A few months ago I read an article on the SS website about when to take benefits. The basic bottom line from their own website was it was six of one and half a doze of the other. As has been said, you either get your benefits for a longer time with less money, or a shorter time with more money.

    My spouse claimed at 62 because he works in a job where he doesn't have a huge income. So we effectively doubled his income without his having to find a different job that paid twice as much.

    I have a large income, and am over 62. I'm not claiming until I don't have that large income as I don't want to give a large chunk of money back to the SS department.

    The time to claim is unique to everyone and what's "smartest" is what is the most productive for you with your own financial situation.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 2:04 PM, dbh wrote:

    Did the math and took my SS at 62. Break-even point for me would have been 78-years and 3-months. No brainer!

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 2:15 PM, DanLef wrote:

    Take the money when you are younger and can enjoy it. People that bet they are going to live to be 78 or older to come close to breaking even are morons.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 2:22 PM, nothing wrote:

    25 separate sites are tracking you when visiting this site. Sort of unethical...ain't it. Took SS at age 62, invested it, returns exceed those of provided by SS by waiting. Even if not, break even age would be advance from 78 to somewhere in the 80's. Also does not take into consideration the impact of taxes on SS benefits especially when you start taking minimum required distributions at 70 1/2...and the increase withdrawals as you approach 78. No guarantee how long you will live nor if government will tax 100%. Take the money and enjoy

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 2:38 PM, greyghost57 wrote:

    t dodson, As an educator I wish you'd become more knowledgeable about how social security system works

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 3:27 PM, Orolando wrote:

    I started my SS at age 62. I have continued to work and at the same time continue to pay in to SS. It works well for me enven though at tax time I'm paying a lot because I do not have tax taken out of my SS. I wiil be 66 next month. Will the SS I'm paying for working be recaculated?

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 3:37 PM, fre8mal4hod2 wrote:

    You know not the time nor condition of your demise - maybe in your 90's, maybe in good mental & physical health, maybe longer - and maybe not.


    1.) you chose age 70, to max your benefit -

    2.) you’ve enjoyed the delayed enrollment bonus benefit till your now present age 75 - - BUT -

    3.) bad fortune befalls you, you've suffered a cerebral stroke, now permanently comatose residing in long-term-care - question: who or what now enjoys your age 70 maxed benefit? -

    4.) going back to item 1.), had you choose to take age 62 early retirement, you would have had 13 years of reduced early retirement S.S. benefit -

    A tough call to make, isn’t it?

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 3:39 PM, cvcrl1 wrote:

    Take it as soon as you can, no one knows how long it will last ?,With the government tax and spend mentality things change from day to day with NO guarantee, good luck!!!

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 3:48 PM, fre8mal4hod2 wrote:

    You know not the time nor condition of your demise - maybe in your 90's, maybe in good mental & physical health, maybe longer - and maybe not.


    1.) you chose age 70, to max your benefit -

    2.) you’ve enjoyed the delayed enrollment bonus benefit till your now present age 75 -

    - BUT -

    3.) bad fortune befalls you, you've suffered a cerebral stroke, now permanently comatose residing in long-term-care - question: who or what is now enjoying your age 70 maxed benefit? -

    4.) going back to item 1.), had you choose to take age 62 early retirement, you would have had 13 years of reduced early retirement S.S. benefit -

    A tough call to make, isn’t it?

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 4:08 PM, StatMan40 wrote:

    Here's the correct way to play SS:

    Start claiming SS if it delays you having to withdraw money from your 401K/IRA account. It will hurt you in the long run if you start withdrawing money from your IRA at 62 to live on just to wait for SS to go up a few % per year. You are eating into your principal, which will never earn interest again. I have run the numbers in a big Excel spreadsheet... If you can get 4% on your IRA money, and you have a reasonably large nest egg, take SS early and let your IRA grow if you really need the money.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 4:40 PM, sherik wrote:

    I chose to take mine at 62 and am enjoying every penny of it in good health, knock on wood. I also get a pension and am working parttime at a stressless job and liking it so far.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 5:09 PM, DudleyDoRight wrote:

    I pick 85 years old as my targeted "going to the other side" date.

    Then I did the math: at 62 I would collect for 23 years, at 66 I would collect for 19 years and at 70 for 15 years. So based on the numbers I chose to start at 62 the difference from starting at 70 would have been $15,000 until age 85 or $650.00 a year more if I waited until 70. Sure if I live longer than 85 on paper I would lose money but what the hell.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 5:13 PM, BillAlvarez wrote:

    When one only ever hears one side of a story one begins to think there might be something wrong. Here is a simple chart that uses a simple $1,000/month payment at full retirement age 66 and compares the amounts received if started at ages 62, 66, and 70. We are now being told that an average male has a life expectancy of 82.

    This chart doesn’t take into account COLA, taxes paid, or investment values. As they always say, “your mileage may vary”.

    I ask myself if I get to be age 82 and I started my SS at age 62 instead of at age 70, “what’s the difference”. Well it’s $16,920 in this case. As you can see below the breakeven points are at ages 77, 80, and 82 depending on when you start SS.

    When I ran my numbers my breakeven points where a little different, but the decision was just as obvious to me. I’m not trying to deceive you. If you live to age 90 you will be ahead by $32,640 or $71,640 depending on your start date in this chart. If you are married you should run multiple charts depending upon your particular expected life expectancies.

    I hope that this has shown the other side of the coin for you.

    75%@age 62 100% @ age 66 132%@ age 70

    750 1000 1320

    62 9000

    63 18000

    64 27000

    65 36000

    66 45000 12000

    67 54000 24000

    68 63000 36000

    69 72000 48000

    70 81000 60000 15840

    71 90000 72000 31680

    72 99000 84000 47520

    73 108000 96000 63360

    74 117000 108000 79200

    75 126000 120000 95040

    76 135000 132000 110880

    77 144000 144000 126720

    78 153000 156000 142560

    79 162000 168000 158400

    80 171000 180000 174240

    81 180000 192000 190080

    82 189000 204000 205920

    83 198000 216000 221760

    84 207000 228000 237600

    85 216000 240000 253440

    86 225000 252000 269280

    87 234000 264000 285120

    88 243000 276000 300960

    89 252000 288000 316800

    90 261000 300000 332640

    P.S. The chart got slightly distorted, but you should figure it out.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 7:04 PM, shorthosep wrote:

    I agree that every situation is different. I advised my wife to take her SS at 62 and here's why. I was a city firefighter for 30 years this job did NOT require us to put into SS. 2 of my co-workers wives worked for over 25 years at their jobs in a factory and both wives died prior to 62. When my co-workers went to SS to see if they could get survivor benefits they were both denied because they got pensions from their jobs as firefighters. Both asked but what about the money our wives put in to SS for over 25 years. They were told that's the way it goes. Funny if my co-workers never worked a day in their lives they would be intitled to their wives full SS benefit but because they were city workers they got zilch.Also both co-workers worked part-time and when they applied for their SS benefit they were told they only get 30% of what they earned because of their city pensions.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 7:55 PM, gatkins wrote:

    Let's add something else to the mix. The Government, thru the years, as far back has the Reagan adm. Has taken money out of Social Security and used that money for what ever. You never hear any Politian talk about that. When is the Government going to replace that money taken out of the Social Security Fund. The only thing I hear from politians is Social Security is going broke. well if that is the case replace the money that was taken out years ago/

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 7:58 PM, Jnlaf wrote:

    Sorry but this is BS,,,take it AS soon as you can...this is just another story telling people wait,,,this have to be the 10th one this month,,make one think that the Government are paying people to write these things...

    The longer you wait the better it is for the Fed,,,not you..they're hoping you die before you correct..take it you paid into it for 25/30/35 years..

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 8:03 PM, nobodysfool2014 wrote:

    It's a government sponsored lie to advise late retirement. Enjoy your retirement while you are healthy, you never know how long you've got left!

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 8:07 PM, randydevinney wrote:

    So if I wait, I'll eventually get more, catching up at 80 or so when I'm no longer able to enjoy it.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 8:26 PM, catfan4ever wrote:

    I'll let a young person have my job when I reach 62. I've planned & saved a nice nest egg. My wife will not retire until I'm 70 and she'll also have a nice retirement. I then plan on purchasing a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains and spend my time between there and my present home.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 8:36 PM, StevenF wrote:

    Maximizing your social security payments should NOT be the only consideration. In some cases, taking the social security early, even at a lower lifetime payout, allows you to take less from other investments. Allowing those investments to grow longer could result in greater spending ability over a persons lifetime.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 9:33 PM, rprsha wrote:

    Comment to shorthosep: When one spouse dies the survivor is allowed to choose whether to collect his/her own SS benefit or the deceased spouse's - not both. So why should a firefighter or other government pensioner who did not contribute to SS be allowed to collect his/her pension and the SS of the deceased spouse?

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 9:41 PM, clchapman wrote:

    I am going out on a limb here but her is my take on SS being put off.

    A lot of us are from the Vietnam era/Agent Orange

    So many of us have been hit with Agent Orange

    and just right at retirement it has it most of us

    I for on intended to work until I was at FRA to start drawing

    Instead at 61 I was hit with the Orange bug and it forced me to retire. If I thought and had tried to get VA benefits first ,I could have waited to collect my SS

    So many started theirs years ago and it is enough for most couples to live on if it is 100 %

    If they are getting full VA benefits as well as the spouse getting a little for carrying for the spouse then it is a very decent income

    Something else is the fact that a lot of those that have been hit with the Orange bug have not lived long enough to collect

    Now let m say YES you can still pay the SS back it has to be every last penny and you can only do it on time

    Go to the nearest SS office and tell them you wish to return the funds

    You have to make on lump sum payment

    Thy may argue with you so you may have to b persistent about it

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 10:26 PM, psars61 wrote:

    I could care less about breaking even. My plan is to work till 70 if I remain healthy, then retire with the max benefit.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 11:46 PM, emh wrote:

    Take it when you stop working full time and expect your earned income to be less than around $15000 a year- if you don't need it== invest it- pretty sure you will gain more than you would than SS at an older age. I am 63 and still working and paying into SS. Planning on retiring next year and working up the limit before being penalized and investing SS.

    I figure you better get it when you can--you die you get nothing----plus who know when there will be another

    "executive decision" and change the law!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 2:57 AM, duudaa wrote:

    I'm taking mine at 62! I won't get unemployment or welfare so its my only out. I thought about selling everything I own and moving in with my kids. I have 9 years to go.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 3:00 AM, tonyatn wrote:

    Enjoy your money now. Take it ASAP!

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 4:50 AM, kahiloa wrote:

    Take your money while it is still available. Unfortunately it will no be around for the next generation. I have paid into it for 30 years but it will be bankrupt by the time I retire. I don't even have the choice to put that money into a savings, it is confiscated before it gets to me.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 5:35 AM, larryd111 wrote:

    I still had a 12 years old and an 8 yr old at 62!! They each got one half my ssn. That related to over $160,000. until they each reach 18. I woulfd have been a fool to have waited!!

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 7:28 AM, wrhc wrote:

    Why must they continue to run these stories? Nobody is buying this anymore? Take your social security as soon as you are able to receive it!! I'm sure the government wants to you to wait and not be paid the money that you have been paying in for all these years - that gives the government free money, along with the interest incurred. Only a fool would postpone collecting their social security until years after they can.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 7:39 AM, eixalag wrote:

    In a 2003 retirement seminar at my work, a S.S. rep. to my surprise advised us to take benefits as soon as possible (age 62). He said some of us in the room would never see full retirement age and not draw a cent. He pointed out that you would be in your mid 70's when you hit the break even point. I took mine at 62 and never regretted it. At age 68 I have drawn $120k so far.The longer you wait, the better the odds for the government.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 8:51 AM, greyhound44 wrote:

    After having paid MAX SS (portion) of FICA for 35 + years, I retired 31 Aug 2003 at 58.75 (none since); took Max SS retirement benefits at 62 - never paid a dime of income tax on same.

    No income tax since 2007.

    The break - even point without factoring in the time value of money (government induced inflation in any of their slimy forms, etc.) is 78.7 years.

    Best revenge is to retire early and wealthy, and starve the Government Beast!!!

    retired expatriate MD: NBME; ABIM; ABNM; ABR w/spec comp NR

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 10:59 AM, glocker62p wrote:

    Calculate your breakeven date for both approaches and take the one best suited to you. Wife and I took SS as soon as we could. A major concern was simply getting ourselves into a system in flux. Better to already be in at a reduced amount than to be denied it later or to get a reduced amount later anyway.

    It's not always about getting the maximum amount possible. Heath enters into the mix but few "advisers" even mention that. There are good and valid reason to start SS at the earliest date possible. Don't just arbitrarily accept anybody's opinion ... do the math yourself. The problem there is so many people are so obviously poor at managing their personal finances. Best to get educated and informed and decide for yourself. Not everything you read on the internet, even from so-called "experts", fits your situation and is best for you. Just because many are doing something doesn't make it a good idea. Just ask Bernie Madoff's investors.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 12:16 PM, summer wrote:

    First of all this age 70 it's to old and long to wait .

    You should've a choice at 62 years old or 65 years old . Again no person should've to wait until they're

    70 years old . They've worked for years , and they

    deserve the money .

    Most the people I know they're getting there money at 65 year old or when ever there birthday are ....

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 2:37 PM, Prof555 wrote:

    Taking it at 62, 63, 64 or 65 is not an option for most people because people are continuing to work for a variety of reasons up to and beyond their full retirement age of (for now) 66. The question I get a lot is whether to take it at 66 or wait to get a higher benefit. Personally, I think its foolish to delay it unless you are extremely well off and the additional money would not be useful. Otherwise, grab the money and run. $2,000 at age 66 becomes about $2,700 at age 70. So you get an extra $700 a month but you gave up $96,000 which pays for a lot of vacations, toys and college funds for grandkids. It will take you 11 years to catch up. Personally, I think the average taxpayer would find $2,000 a month a hell of a lot more useful in their late sixties than $2,700 a month in their seventies and eighties. Your call.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 2:44 PM, analplanner wrote:

    This "article" is a joke. People are getting "smarter", with no reasons given why what they are doing is smarter.

    What I never see in terms of a comparison on this type of recommendation is dying at a certain age. In others words, if I take it at 62 and die at 65, I either received roughly $70K and enjoyed it, or my beneficiaries do if I took it and saved it. If I die at 69, the number is more like $150K.

    Even with investment returns, there is a point at which waiting makes more sense. However, as others have mentioned, who knows when I am going to die?

    Articles such as this always quote statistics favorable to us all being Methuselah, but a fair comparison would also evaluate what is best over a range of death ages, almost like Monte Carlo analysis.

    I'm 47, and will take it the day the door hits me in the backside on the way out of my employers property.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 3:36 PM, wildbill1925 wrote:

    Take the $ at 62 and enjoy it with your health. Who cares if you collect more but can't spend it on the things that make you happy when older. You can't pass on your SS pmt, but you can pass on a 401k, ira ....

    Another thought after investing excess $ collected from SS at 62, would be to set up a HSA( health savings acc't) or if you work PT up to $15k/year, so as to not lose SS $ You could put extra amount over $15k into a 401k( if new pt employer offers) or do a ira or roth or hsa so you could avoid losing SS$ if you make over the $15k limit. Since you are over 50, you could work PT and put $23k/ year into an employer 401k, and still look into a hsa ira and still not lose SS$ by earning to much.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 4:14 PM, rickshelton53 wrote:

    You're a Idiot if you wait to draw your Money... Start at 62 and work and earn the allotted amount you can make ,,,,

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 5:06 PM, Chloe234 wrote:

    To help myself to answer this question, I did a little math comparing the results if I take distributions beginning at age 62, age 67 and age 70.

    I used the figures from my personal Social Security statement, which I found online.

    If I simply take distributions and let them accumulate in a coffee can (or spend them), the lines converge at around age 80. In other words, the earlier I take distributions, the more I will accumulate (or spend) initially, but after age 80 or thereabouts, the longer I wait, the more I will accumulate (or spend).

    If I set aside 10% of my distributions to invest, the compounding effect of the earlier start enables the smaller amount to outstrip the larger amount begun at a later date.

    As a result, investing delays the point of convergence. For example, in my case if I assume a 9% annual rate of return, the combined total of my investments (the compounding 10%) and what I can spend (the other 90%) converges at around age 82.

    Not surprisingly, the larger the invested portion and the higher the rate of return, the later the point of convergence. For example, increasing the rate of return to just 12% per year pushes my point of convergence to about age 87.

    So technically, yes, if you wait to take distributions and live well beyond the average male life expectancy, you will come out ahead. But for me, earlier seems to be better.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 7:09 PM, murdoch11 wrote:

    Benefit??? Those who collect paid into the system along with their employers. With the most conservative of assumptions, a person will NOT get back what they and their employers contributed over a lifetime of work. It is better described as "earned income". And yes, it is a ponzu scheme.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 9:23 PM, Romer wrote:

    It is to the government's advantage for you to wait longer to collect, because the longer you wait, the shorter you will collect, and the less overall you will collect in your lifetime. I recommend waiting to the age of 63 1/2 to collect because that is the age where you have waited long enough to collect the maximum increased income/month of waiting before full retirement age. After that, the percentage increase in benefit/month of waiting time begins to decrease (% gain per month). Extra waiting before full retirement results in an increase only 7% benefits at full retirement; at 63 1/2 a person has gained 18% over minimum at age 62.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 10:21 PM, oldoldold wrote:

    Take the money as soon as you can. At 62 you can still do a lot and your grandkids will love the fact you are able to go to their school activities. I have never regretted taking Social Security at age 62. I see many are still working and it seems many die at work when they are 65. Seems those who retired early are still doing well at 70. Maybe its because we slowed down and started to eat better and could relax a lot more.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 10:30 PM, aussieinchina wrote:

    Real Simple - Take your Money and RUN !

    Social Security may be gone any year now

    The Government keeps borrowing against this cash cow and have borrowed so much that by the year 2036 they will not be able to make any further payments out unless they raise the rate that they charge workers - My Uncle who worked as an Engineer at 69 years of age never took his SS and thought he would retire at 70 - He Died at 69 years of age and got nothing ZERO / NADA - Take your money at 62 and enjoy the free money - invest your money wisely - SS will not support you in your retirement - it is petty cash

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2014, at 2:38 PM, dreamimmigrant wrote:

    There's a simple reason why all these big government geniuses want you to take the money out as late as possible -

    1. Lesser inflows

    2. Increasing outflows.

    1 + 2 = 3:


    I'm sure Madoff and every other Ponzi artist was telling the same thing on why to keep money with them longer.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2014, at 11:37 PM, RideWildfire wrote:

    If you have the fortitude to not spend, but invest your SS, and make over 8% annually, no matter how long you live, taking your SS earlier is a smarter choice. Look at your whole financial plan, not SS as a standalone - it isn't, it is a part of the whole, and it is not "planning" if you look at the pieces individually. My view doesn't hold water though if you don't follow your plan.

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2014, at 6:35 PM, IFLY2 wrote:

    I have the feeling that we Fools are more on track than most of the investing public...

    Fool On!

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2014, at 8:28 PM, HoosierRube wrote:

    It is curious as to the number of these stories coming out recently.

    And indeed, they all 'lean' in the same general direction.

    Do you ever get this feeling that not all of us are 'receiving the memo'?

    We see the same sort of things in our schools. And in our media. Especially in our media.

    How can we -opt out- of the polically correct 'news and info' streams?

    I think Orwells '1984', 'Blade Runner', 'Clockwork Orange' and 'Logans Run ' warned us of this kind of society.

  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2014, at 9:26 PM, umh wrote:

    Will I enjoy the money more at 62 or 66 or 70? I've been broke and I've been flush, but I think I'll enjoy the money more when I can still play. I really don't think being rich in a nursing home is a good deal. Unless you are really wealthy the cost of a nursing home will drain your money within a few years anyway.

  • Report this Comment On April 18, 2014, at 11:29 AM, eroethke wrote:

    It depends in part on whether you want a better sense that you will not run out of money. According to the actuarial tables, the average 62 year old male can expect to live to about 81. If your health is good and you have older relatives who lived into their 90's, waiting might make sense. The exception would be if you needed the money earlier.

  • Report this Comment On April 19, 2014, at 4:10 PM, conifer wrote:

    The video doesn't say anything about why someone should wait, or not. Run the numbers and show a real life example. It's not so clear cut. It takes many years to make up the 4 years of actual money-in-the-pocket income. And many years after that to be a significant difference in the end.

    And news flash to the many 30-something TMFers, 80 is not the new 60. At 80, the mind and the body are a far cry from 60.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 12:54 PM, CC52 wrote:

    As people above had said, it all depends on your personal situation. The average life expectancy for a woman as of today is something like 81 for women and 76 for men. However, the number for life expectancy for men is rising faster than that of women. (Perhaps because women now constitute <50% of the workforce, and are generally paid less? Who knows.).

    So, if you retire at age 62 you will get less per month, but for longer. It "averages" out over the life of your retirement if you make that 81 or 76 year mark. Your quality of life in that time depends on your health, etc. So if you've got one foot in the grave, by all means retire early.

    However, you get approx. 8% per year more for each year you wait to claim after your official retirement age.

    (Also note that those figures that SS give you online do not factor in ALL of the SS Colas, which vary from year to year, but average about 1-1.5%.)

    If you need the money, you need the money. But if you can wait till 70, you'll be getting a guaranteed 8% per year return on your investment (as long as SS is viable, which from the actual numbers, will be for at least another 20 years if the govt. doesn't start to raid it again to balance the overall budget. Now they can only suck up the interest, etc.- not the principle.)

    If you are a married couple, and the higher-paying spouse waits until 70, you can do a "Claim & Hold" in which that spouse claims SS at retirement age, but does not actually collect benefits until later. When they do, they will get all that money retroactively. The main benefit to doing that is that if they die before they reach that age 70, the surviving spouse will get the higher combined amount rather than the lower amount of their own SS pension. It's not really of any use to a single, non-married person.

    As always, check for yourself on the SS website. They have a very detailed explanation of all this (if you can find it!)

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 4:43 PM, BillFromNY wrote:

    I graduated from high school in 1969. Almost all of the students were born in 1951 or 1952 and are now about 63 years old.

    There is a group for my high school on Facebook and one classmate has given herself the position of tracking down every person in the class of 367 students.

    She just posted on the high school group board that 10% of my class was dead already. And a majority were probably male.

    That gave me a much better feeling about taking the money as soon as I could get it.

  • Report this Comment On April 24, 2014, at 5:35 PM, eroethke wrote:

    The question you should ask yourself, however, is when did they die? If they died young, even though this is tragic, it shouldn't influence the thinking about the prospects for dying at 62. It is a tautology that the older you get, the older you're likely to get. If you make it to 62. A man who is 62 is likely to live almost another 20 years. See

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Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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