It's hard to believe, but my gray hair (and driver's license) testifies to the fact: in a bit over a year I'll be 62 and eligible to start getting Social Security benefits.
So a New York Times article caught my eye this morning. Reading "Collect Now or Later? Timing Your Social Security Benefits" I realized that no matter what the experts say, I'm strongly inclined to stick with my current inclination:
Give me my freaking benefits As Soon As Possible -- ASAP!
Now, I realize that others will decide differently. And that's understandable. I just wanted to share my philosophical take on this subject, for what it's worth.
That's what it comes down for me: philosophy...of life.
The article focuses on how much total money someone will get from Social Security if they start taking benefits at 62, versus waiting until 65 or 70. If you live long enough, waiting brings in more bucks.
I don't understand this way of looking at "advantage." Life is about a lot more than dollars and cents, or the quantity of living we do.
Mr. Sacks points to the financial advantage of waiting to start getting checks from Social Security, if you end up living longer than 78. However, what about the quality of life disadvantage of foregoing what you could have done with the money from age 62 to 78?
Traveling. Buying stuff you've always wanted. Gifts for grandchildren. Fixing up your home. Charity. Whatever you want. Including, naturally, simply living: paying for groceries, gasoline, and such.
I'm not saying that my life at 78, if I get that far, isn't going to be worth living. However, I know what life at 60 is like, and it's pretty damn enjoyable.
I'm healthy, energetic, and enthusiastic, of sound body and mind (aside from my usual psychological quirks and minor ailments). So I want my Social Security benefits ASAP, because I don't like the idea of having extra money when I can't enjoy it as much as I can now.
Makes sense to me. And to other people I've talked with who are leaning in a similar now, now, now direction when they turn 62. We don't see any reason to wait.
But like I said earlier, I can understand why someone else would choose to. The decision as to when to start getting benefits isn't entirely philosophical -- this is just how I look at the question:
What will bring me the most satisfaction? Using the Social Security money from now until I'm 78, or after that age?