It's those even-numbered birthdays that tend to get all the attention -- 60, 70, and so forth. But actually, 62 could end up being a significant year for you, so if you'll be hitting that milestone in 2020, here are a few things you need to know.
1. You can file for Social Security -- but whether you should is a different story
If you worked and paid Social Security taxes on your income your entire life, here's some good news -- you can finally start collecting benefits, since 62 is the earliest age you're allowed to do so. It's also, incidentally, the most popular age to sign up for benefits.
But that doesn't mean filing at 62 is a good idea. You're only entitled to your full monthly benefit based on your earnings history upon reaching full retirement age. That age varies by year of birth, but if you're turning 62 in 2020 and were therefore born in 1958, your full retirement age is 66 and eight months. Filing for Social Security at 62, therefore, would reduce your monthly benefits by almost 30% on a lifelong basis, and that's a pretty big hit. Therefore, unless you really need the money, it could very much pay to wait.
2. You're too young for Medicare
Since Social Security and Medicare are interrelated, you might assume that once you become eligible for one, you're also entitled to sign up for the other. Not so. Medicare eligibility doesn't begin until age 65, and while you can enroll for coverage a few months before your 65th birthday, you can't get Medicare benefits at 62 unless you've been diagnosed with certain qualifying medical conditions, like end-stage renal disease.
If you're planning to claim Social Security at age 62 and stop working at that point, you'll need to figure out what to do about health insurance. COBRA may be an option (albeit an expensive one) for a limited period of time, as may getting on your spouse's health plan, if he or she has one. But don't expect Medicare to come to the rescue in this regard.
3. You may have a long retirement ahead if you leave the workforce this year
There's nothing wrong with retiring at 62 if you've saved and planned for it. But know this: The Social Security Administration says that a man reaching age 65 today will live, on average, until 84. Meanwhile a 65-year-old woman today will live, on average, until 86 1/2. Furthermore, roughly one in three 65-year-olds will live past age 90, and one in seven will live past 95.
If you leave the workforce at 62 and live past the age of 90, you're potentially looking at a 30-year retirement or longer. That means you'll need a substantial nest egg to keep up with your living costs for such a long time, so make sure the money is there. And also, make sure retiring at such a relatively young age is a smart idea. The last thing you want to do is end your career only to wind up bored and unhappy. You may be better off plugging away a bit longer if your health is solid and you're reasonably content with the work you do.
As you gear up to celebrate your 62nd birthday, be sure to keep the above points in mind. A few smart decisions on your end could set the stage for a rewarding year, and an even more rewarding retirement.