Take Social Security at 62?

I'm a Henry "Bud" Hebeler fan. A former top executive at Boeing, he offers up financially conservative thoughts on planning for and living in retirement. You can look at his calculators and articles at his website www.analyzenow.com.

He sent me one of his articles the other day: "Should I Take Social Security at 62?" Or should you wait until your full retirement age (it's between 65 and 67 depending on your date of birth) or 70? At 70 you get the maximum benefit.

Seems like it should be a simple calculation. It isn't.

The answer is.... it all depends....

For instance, Hebeler recommends electing for early Social Security payments if you have health problems or can't work or have good reason to believe you won't make it past 80.

But for most couples that will live into their 80s, the numbers suggest that the higher income spouse wait until age 70 to get the maximum benefit, and the lower income spouse wait until 65-67, whichever is the full retirement age..

If only we knew when we were going to die...

You can play with the numbers at www.analyzenow.com.

Anyway, this article is an aid toward thinking through the right answer for you when the time comes.

Here's a profile that Robert Barker, a former colleague of mine, wrote on Hebeler. It's from 2000, so it's out of date. But it gives you a good sense of the man. Go to article.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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