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Friday, October 30, 2015

You Can Wait Until You Are 62 To Plan How to Take Social Security Benefits

The title of this post isn't a myth.  It's true.  You can wait until age 62.  It's just a bad idea.  If you are 50, you may still have time to start working on an ideal cash flow plan for your 60's & 70's.

I know.  So much can change over 10, 20 years.  And a well crafted cash flow plan will be organic and fluid, as it should be.  Why start so early in life?  So you don't leave free money on the table.  And to decrease the discipline required to make the plan work.

A cash flow plan becomes more important if you may be subject to longevity risk (outliving your money).  I suggest you use this calculator at Life Expectancy  I took the questionnaire and my life expectancy is 88, higher than I imagined.  For benefit timing strategies under current law, the break even age for delaying Social Security averages 8-12 years at age 70.  In other words, if your life expectancy is longer than 78-82 then you should prepare for benefit timing strategies.

"Can you give us an example about why and how a 50 yr. old would need to start Social Security planning?" you wisely ask.  I'm glad you asked.  Sure.  I wish I had the skill to show this graphically.


  1. Current age 50
  2. Life expectancy is 85
  3. Expected budget at planned retirement age of 65 is $5000/mo. in today's dollars
  4. Expected retirement year budget inflated at 3.3%/yr.:  $8137/mo.
  5. Social Security break even age is 78.  This means that by waiting until 70 to turn on Social Security, your delayed retirement credits will have increased your benefit by 24%. So by 78, the income that you lost by waiting is fully recovered.  After that, you're money ahead.
  6. Expected guaranteed income at 65:  $5000/mo.
  7. Income gap at 65:  $3137/mo. (8137 - 5000).  And let's assume Social Security will make up that gap at 70.
  8. Total funding shortfall, with inflation, age 65-70:  $201,059.
So here would be my plan:
  1. Set aside enough per month (including any employer matching, if applicable), before tax to accumulate the $201,059.  At 6% APR, this would require about $691/mo.  Use a true target date fund with at least quarterly automatic rebalancing.
  2. At 65, roll this into an IRA annuity that guarantees the inflation adjusting $3137/mo. you'll need at 65.  This way you avoid sequence of returns risk.  You will also be spending down taxable money at a low tax bracket.
  3. Save as much as you can in after tax vehicles like Roth IRAs, Roth 401(k)s, real estate, that may give you tax-free income beyond age 70, which will likely be your highest tax bracket years.
Every detail here depends on individual circumstances, ever changing tax regulations and many other factors.

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