As we sat in our assigned cubicle talking with the social security representative I looked at Abi and thought, “Wait! What?! How did we get here?”
How Did We Get Here?
How did we get to the age of social security benefits? Wasn’t it just yesterday when we met, moved to Hawaii and married?! And wasn’t it just last week when our son was born? Blink and it’s 20, 30, nearly 40 years later. Did we pay close enough attention and remember to live in the moment? Did we miss anything? Or, should I ask, “How much did we miss?”
As our lives flashed through my mind’s eye, there we sat asking for clarification on several points and coming up with every what if scenario we could think of, before Abi said, “Sign me up.” I’m not certain, but I think filing for social security benefits pretty much equates to full-fledged retirement. Although, I did ask the hypothetical question of what if he wants to go back to work at some point? You know, because Abi has aspirations of being an overnight stock boy at Lowe’s. Seriously. He does. He thinks it would be fun.
Although I am not yet old enough to qualify for social security, I am the spouse of someone who does qualify so our helpful rep pulled up my records and duly noted I had been working since 1969. In 1969 at the age of 13 I earned a whopping $19. That’s right. You read that correctly, $19. I think it pretty much set the pace for my future earning potential.
Get Your Ducks in a Row
There is a ton of information about social security out there in cyber space from news articles to blogger posts to retirement headlines. And, it can be confusing to sort through it all. We suggest creating an online account at The United States Social Security Website. Get your information straight from the horse’s mouth so-to-speak. Everything you need to know about yourself and what you’re entitled to, you’ll find on the website.
It’s also a good idea to determine what age of filing best fits your needs. If you’re under 66 and earning more than $15,720/year, you may want to wait to file. After 66, which is considered full retirement age, (depending on the year you were born) you can earn as much as you’re able, but can still claim full social security benefits.
The Lesson Learned
The lesson we learned is that if you are 62 and no longer earning employment income, you might as well go ahead and apply for your social security benefits because the growth of said social security benefits from one year to the next is only based on inflation, which is minimal. If you don’t need the money, you can let it grow until you reach the age of 66. Abi will celebrate his 65th birthday this summer. At the age of 65 he can also file for Medicare. In essence we lined up two ducks with one appointment.
Social Security Benefits & Medicare
Here’s the thing about taking on important topics of conversation such as social security benefits and Medicare. Both topics naturally lend themselves to the more difficult topics of conversation such as, what if one of us leaves this earth before the other? They are not easy conversations, but they are necessary. We don’t dwell on the tough topics but we want to make as many decisions as we can – at this point in our lives – so we have as many of those damned ducks lined up as possible. We’ve got a lot of living to do and we don’t want to be bogged down with the what if baggage. We only want to carry the kind of baggage we can put in the trunk of the car as we continue to travel this life together… One Road at a Time.
I took this step earlier this year. Blogging is such a lucrative recovering lawyer career that it made sense for me to take my Social Security Retirement benefits at age 62. Fortunately, Mr. Excitement still has a day job, so he’ll wait until age 66 or later to take his Social Security. (BTW, if you keep working past your full retirement age and are paying FICA taxes, you can increase your Social Security monthly payment past 100% of your primary insurance amount. Also, if you earned somewhat less than Abi did, you might be eligible for “spousal benefits” on Abi’s Social Security account that exceed benefits on your own account.)
Guess what my legal career concentration was? I represented claimants for Social Security disability benefits. I admit it felt weird to be receiving my own Notice of Benefit Award from the Social Security Administration after receiving so many on behalf of my clients. The Social Security website you linked to is an excellent source of general information about Social Security and also has a “secure” portal that will allow you to apply for your own Social Security retirement or disability benefits on line.
NOTE: None of what I’ve said is to be construed as legal advice. If you don’t understand that, the advice you think you have received is worth what you paid for it. 😉
Since I am in no hurry, I will wait until I’m 66 to apply. And, since I’m a retired teacher, I didn’t pay into Social security for a good number of years so our goal was to maximize Abi’s benefits, which will in turn benefit me with spousal benefits, but not for a long, long, time.
How did I get to be 62 and even give this any thought. I’m best to wait until 66 and hope to keep Rangering until I don’t want to any more, traveling between seasons. Good post for many of us boomers.
Gaelyn recently posted…Foto Friday Fun 165
I think you’ve positioned yourself beautifully, Gaelyn, you’re working at a job you love and still have months of down time. Sixty-six will creep up fast enough so keep it at bay as long as you can.
How did we get here, indeed? We ask that every day. Great post and good timing, since we’re considering the whole Social Security thing, too. Thanks for the info.
Catherine Sweeney recently posted…Bella Italia: The Gardens of Lake Maggiore
Indeed! Thanks so much for the kind words, there are a LOT of us boomers navigating our way through this new chapter of our lives. Good luck with filing for social security when the day comes!