If you believe in going all the way or not going at all, there’s a day to celebrate your extreme ways. July 26 is All or Nothing Day. Not a day for the undecided, All or Nothing Day is dedicated to the idea of making decisions and plunging in. Whether it’s overcoming an agonizing fear, trying something you’ve always wanted to try, or making a big decision and seeing it through, All or Nothing Day is your chance to make it happen.
All or Nothing Day is a great day to think about your retirement—whether it’s right in front of you or looming on the horizon. When is the right time for you to retire? Choosing when to retire is an important decision, but it’s also a personal choice and one you should carefully consider. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Social Security offers a list of factors to consider in the publication, When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
If you’re a young or middle-aged worker, you still have time to ponder that decision. But don’t wait to begin saving for your retirement. Start saving now and go in all the way. The more you save, the more comfortable your retirement can be. And remember, Social Security retirement benefits were not intended to be your sole source of retirement income and planning early will make for a comfortable retirement.
Social Security provides two top-rated online tools to help you plan for your retirement. First is the Retirement Estimator, which gives you immediate and personalized retirement benefit estimates. The Retirement Estimator is convenient and secure, and lets you create “what if” scenarios. For instance, you can change your “stop work” dates or expected future earnings to create and compare different retirement options. If you have a few minutes, you have time to check it out at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.
Another great tool is your own my Social Security account. Here you can get instant estimates of your future benefits and verify that your earnings history is correct with your own, free my Social Security account. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and join the millions of people who have already created their accounts to help plan for retirement.
You can get Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but if you retire before your full retirement age (currently age 66, but gradually increasing to age 67), your benefits will be reduced, based on your age. If you retire at age 62, your benefit would be about 25 percent lower than what it would be if you waited until you reach full retirement age. Find out your full retirement age by using our Retirement Age Calculator at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ageincrease.htm. You may choose to keep working even beyond your full retirement age. If you do, you can increase your future Social Security benefits—up until age 70.
There is one more way that choosing to keep working can increase your benefits. If you receive benefits, and if your latest year of earnings turns out to be one of your highest years, we refigure your benefit and pay you any increase due. For example, in December 2014, you should get an increase for your 2013 earnings if those earnings raised your benefit. The increase would be retroactive to January 2014.
Applying for Social Security retirement doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” decision. Whether you want to retire at age 62, your full retirement age, or even later, you can apply when you feel like it. When you’re ready to take that plunge, you can apply online for retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Kirk Larson is a Social Security Administration Public Affairs Specialist located in Seattle and serving Western Washington.