When Is a Good Time to Start Receiving Social Security Benefits?

Enjoying a comfortable retirement is everyone’s dream. For over 80 years, Social Security has been helping people realize those dreams, assisting people through life’s journey with a variety of benefits. It’s up to you as to when you can start retirement benefits. You could start them a little earlier or wait until your “full retirement age.” There are benefits to either decision, pun intended.

 Full retirement age refers to the age when a person can receive their Social Security benefits without any reduction, even if they are still working part or full time. In other words, you don’t actually need to stop working to get your full benefits.

For people who attain age 62 in 2017 (i.e., those born between January 2, 1955 and January 1, 1956), full retirement age is 66 and two months. Full retirement age was age 65 for many years. However, due to a law passed by Congress in 1983, it has been gradually increasing, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959.

You can learn more about the full retirement age and find out how to look up your own at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/retirechart.html.

You can start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 or any time after that. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly benefit will be, although it stops increasing at age 70. Your monthly benefits will be reduced permanently if you start them any time before your full retirement age. For example, if you start receiving benefits in 2017 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced permanently by about 26 percent.

On the other hand, if you wait to start receiving your benefits until after your full retirement age, then your monthly benefit will be higher. The amount of this increase is two-thirds of one percent for each month –– or eight percent for each year –– that you delay receiving them until you reach age 70. The choices you make may affect any benefit your spouse or children can receive on your record, too. If you receive benefits early, it may reduce their potential benefit, as well as yours.

 You need to be as informed as possible when making any decision about receiving Social Security benefits. Read the publication When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10147.pdf.

If you decide to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, you should also understand how continuing to work can affect your benefits. Social Security may withhold or reduce your benefits if your annual earnings exceed a certain amount. However, for every month benefits are withheld, it increases your future benefits. That’s because at your full retirement age Social Security will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for the months in which benefits were reduced or withheld due to your excess earnings. In effect, it’s as if you hadn’t filed for those months. You can learn more at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html.

Social Security’s mission is to secure your today and tomorrow. Helping you make the right retirement decisions is vital. You can learn more by visiting our Retirement Planner at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire.



Testifying in Front of the Legislature

Public speaking has never been something I thought I was any good at or looked forward to ever in my life. In fact, it used to terrify me any time I had to get up in front of even one person and utter one sound. My heart pounds, I hear my voice shaking, and I feel like I am about to pass out. Apparently that is just it, all in my head.

As I began speaking out more about disabilities, and especially my own personal ones, I found I was really becoming good at public speaking. The nerves were still there but it made me feel like I was helping others in some small way. And then I was asked to testify in front of some legislators. The nerves really kicked in then. Why they made me feel more nervous I do not know. But I felt it was the right thing to do. Not every one can speak for themselves. I can speak up.

I took a lot of time in writing what I wanted to say to them. I had to keep it short and to the point which can be difficult, but I wanted them to really understand how it is to live with disabilities and what these places like DCIL do for us. The first time I spoke in front of them I could feel all of my anxieties creeping up and it took all of what I have learned to keep going. I was so proud of myself that I did it! I was even more proud that my son was there to see me do it.

So when I was asked to testify again this year I had no hesitation in saying yes. They were going to hear what I had to say. It is empowering when you can have them hear you and you actually feel like they are listening. It may or may not make a difference but at least you tried. It gives me a purpose and I feel like I am doing something positive with my disability.