Social Security Benefits optimizers

My wife and I are both 61. Planning ahead, I thought I’d look again to see what our strategy should be for Social Security benefits. I’ve looked into it before for our situation and had pretty much decided that it made sense for me to take at age 62 and my wife to wait until 70. I found a few calculators, but liked this one. Results were confirmed. I’ll start taking benefits after my 62nd birthday and my wife will delay.

What tools do others use?

I talked to a financial advisor and he had software that calculated how much I would end up with in total if I live to 85. The difference between starting at age 65 and 73 was negligible (I suspect starting at 62 will be the same - just a guess). We didn’t look at younger ages because I was already over 64. Then he looked at what my wife would get if she started spousal benefits at age 62 up until age 73. Again, the difference was small enough that we opted to start at 62 for her. The site that you linked to doesn’t give me enough information to make a good decision. Many retirement advisors will talk to you about these numbers for free in hopes to get your business. I talked to a local guy where I live (free dinner) and a Fisher Investments advisor - both gave me the same numbers and the decision was easy. Hope this helps…doc

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They do say you are best off to wait as long as you can.

If you have on IRA or others that can have RMD requirements consider living off those funds for awhile. RMDs beginning at age 72 get taxed at your highest incremental rate. It can also be a goid time to do Roth conversions while you other income can be low.


We both took Social Security at 62. I’ve been getting it for 17 years now and the boss has been getting it for 15 years. We get doodly squat each month. Hers’ on the third Wednesday of the month and mine on the fourth Wednesday of the month. We do not need SS in order to survive and it’s a good thing.

My advice for what it’s worth. Use your company’s Thrift Fund, it’s 401k and get an IRA during your working career and forget about Social Security. You will be fine.


ImAGolfer (retired '03)

We’re both already retired.
We maxed out our 401(k) and Roth IRAs while we were working.
We’ve been taking distributions since turning 59-1/2.
Assuming we follow through on our plan, we will reduce our distributions accordingly, starting next year, in order to keep our income about the same.
Things will change when we hit 65 and start Medicare.
We won’t have to be so careful with keeping our MAGI low for ACA subsidies at that point, but will still want to manage our income for tax purposes.

We are in a good position. Our retirement accounts are sufficient to fully fund our needs.
When we decide to take our Social Security benefits will probably not affect our standard of living all that much.

Did they look at survivor benefits in your calculator? That can make a large difference. DH’s income was much higher than mine. He will be taking SS at 70 and I will take it at full retirement age, since spousal benefits do not increase after FRA, and spousal benefits will be my greatest value draw. Given that he is older than I by 4 years, and has a greater chance of dying before I do, this will not only max out our joint income but also max out my income if widowed.

We retired at roughly 58/54, living off of taxable savings and doing Roth conversions up to the 24% tax bracket, understanding that all it takes is for the gov’t to do nothing, their favorite action, for taxes to go up in 2025 to the rates we had in 2017. Given one of our kids, in his late 20’s, already earns about what DH made at the end of his career, the taxes of inheriting Traditional IRAs will be astronomical for him, and we are trying to max out conversions. Also concerned about going from married filing jointly to single filing if one of us dies before the other.

It’s not just a good calculator that is important, but you also need to ask the right questions.


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Survivor benefits is the reason I plan to take my benefit early and my wife later.
Her earnings are significantly higher than mine. The calculator indicates she should take her benefit at 70, although any time after full retirement age works pretty well.


I am surprised that it encouraged you to take it at 62, in that case, rather than max out your larger benefit based on your wife’s SS. Of course we had the added goal of the Roth Conversions. We looked at what DH would pay for Medicare and at stopping conversions at 63 for him, but the benefits of conversions were greater than the breaks on Medicare.

Consider running your numbers to see what taxes will be like when you take RMDs. It’s an eye opener. You may want more years where you can do conversions rather than take SS at 62. It’s all personal though, so run your own numbers.


OpenSocialSecurity in conjunction with

If you’re a high wage, max-FICA earner, the best Social Security optimizer is retiring really early – like age 45 or 46. If you retire just before you cross over into the 2nd bend point, you get 77% of the maximum SS benefit while paying about half the FICA taxes. Just another example of how the elites punish the working folk.


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That was the one mistake I made. Now that I am in RMD-land I grieve for the years when I could have done Roth conversions at negligible cost and gotten a higher SS payout later to boot.

Ah well, next time I come around I’ll be smarter.