As you know, last week was the 2nd annual “National My Social Security” week. Who’d you go as? As always, I dressed up as Ida May Fuller: the very first recipient of Social Security.
Back in 1935, Social Security was enacted to provide a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for the elderly and poor. Contrary to what many think, it is not meant to fund your retirement. It is only meant to help you get by.
Go to SSA.gov to see what you could have coming. When you check out your stash, keep in mind that your estimated benefit is a future-dollar that will not stretch as far as today’s dollar.
For example, let’s say that in 20 years, you were going to collect $2,000 a month at the full retirement age of 67 (born 1960 or later). Not too shabby for an old fogey. You may have to cut back on some of your lifestyle choices, but that should cover your apartment and some Fiddle Faddle to chomp on, right? Maybe. First, you gotta factor in inflation. The average annual inflation rate since 1913 is about 3%.
$2,000 in 20 years at 3% inflation will buy what $1,107 does today. How far does $1,107 go for you today? Will that keep you in the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed?
When Should I Start Collecting?
If you are fast approaching 62, check out AARP’s and SSA’s calculators to help you decide when to claim and how to maximize your benefits. Schwab.com’s article When To Take Social Security digs deep into the subject. They say the bottom line is: “If you have a choice and are in good health, it’s probably best to wait as long as you can to take your benefits (but no later than age 70). There are many factors to consider, and deciding when to take Social Security can be complex. Get some help from your financial planner or tax professional if you need it.”
SSA.gov will show your projected benefits at 62 (early retirement), full retirement age, and at age 70. As you’ll see, you get a smaller check if you take it early. If you delay it after full retirement age, you typically get an 8% annual bump.