During a recent chat, Carolyn McClanahan, a physician turned financial planner, answered retirement questions from readers.
There was one question that stumps a lot of people and I thought it was worth exploring further.
Q: I am 65 and ready to retire. Would it be wise to hold off drawing Social Security until 70, and just use my retirement account to live on until then?
McClanahan: It depends on your health. If you are in great health, it often pays to wait.
Singletary: The question of when to take Social Security has to be based on your situation — not what you’ve heard is the right thing to do. Yes, if you wait until 70, you get more money on a per-month basis. But you also give up money.
What if you needed the money earlier to survive? Do you suffer waiting years to get more?
And what if you aren’t healthy and don’t think you’ll live well past your 80s? Why leave money on the table?
When to take Social Security comes down to these two questions:
— Would it be better to start collecting benefits early with a smaller monthly amount, but for more years?
— Would it be better to wait to get a larger monthly payment, but over a shorter time?
I’m not one to leave you with an “it depends” answer, but on this question it really does depend on your individual situation.
Here are some resources from Social Security you may want to use as you figure out when to take your benefits:
You enter your date of birth and the effective month for beginning your benefits, and this tool will tell you the effect of early or delayed retirement as a percentage of your primary insurance amount.
Many financial experts recommend, if you can, to wait until you’re 70 to collect Social Security. That could be good advice. But it may not be wise in your situation. Perhaps the following articles will help you in your decision:
I personally found this article very helpful. There’s also a very illustrative chart that makes a good case for not waiting.
This article presents the other side and makes a good case for delaying:
There really isn’t a right or wrong answer, only a decision that is best for you.
Retirement Rants & Raves
This is your chance to rant and rave (or both) about any retirement issue. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell me what bothers you the most about saving for retirement. If you’re retired, what do you wish you could have told your younger self? Or what do you love about retirement?
Here are this week’s comments:
Bob Andelman of Portsmouth, N.H.: “I have been retired for three and half years, starting at age 69, and love it! I have multiple volunteer activities, work out at the gym, swim laps, do aquaerobics, but the common denominator is: very little time pressure. I had time pressure starting in junior high school with homework, sports, Bar Mitzvah prep, etc. That time pressure went down by 90 percent when I retired.”
Eileen Lee of Laytonsville, Md.: “Let’s put a stop to this ‘blame the baby boomers’ bad decisions’ for all retirement and Social Security cuts. Our parents’ generation was able to collect because the big population increase of my generation paid into the system. That’s how it works for each generation.”
“I was really disappointed (but not surprised) at President Trump’s decision to stomp on the fiduciary rule,” wrote Tom Uttormark of Roman Forest, Tex. “He cares about money, not about people. He’s effectively saying, ‘I thinks it’s fine for brokers and financial planners to rip off the retirement accounts of their clients. If the broker can make a bigger commission with a ‘suitable’ investment, she’s entitled to it. It doesn’t matter that the client is the one paying the commission. It’s not necessary to put the needs of the client ahead of those of the broker. Caveat emptor!’ For shame, Donald.’ ”
Live chat this week
Join me on Feb. 16 at noon (ET) for a live chat about personal finance. You pick the topic, and I’ll try my best to help you with your financial issue.
Last Thursday, we talked about love and money. Here’s the link for the discussion, which was really interesting. We covered a lot about how to handle money with your honey — at any age.
Newsletter comments policy
Please note that it is my personal policy to identify readers who respond to questions I pose in my newsletters. I find it encourages thoughtful and civil conversation. I want my newsletters to be a safe place to express your opinion.
On sensitive matters or upon request, I’m happy to just use a first name and last initial. But I prefer not to post anonymous comments. (I do make exceptions when I’m asking questions that might reveal sensitive information that may cause discourse in a family or marriage).
Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon in which she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to email@example.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.