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Plan Better for Your Social Security Benefits

Jean Setzfand, Vice President, Financial Security, AARP Education & Outreach
Danuta Otfinowski/Danuta Otfinowski
By Jean Setzfand, Vice President, Financial Security, AARP Education & Outreach

Every day, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 66—a milestone birthday also known as full retirement age for the purposes of Social Security retirement benefits.  If you’re one of the lucky ones turning 66 this year -- or even 62, the earliest age of Social Security retirement benefits-- “Congratulations!” Listed below is my gift to you: helpful tips to consider as you anticipate this special birthday.

  • Learn more about the Social Security retirement program. AARP’s Financial Security team offers a free webinar series on Social Security. Check out the archive and listen to the one that interests you most – whether it’s Social Security benefits for couples or a more general Social Security 101.
  • Get your Social Security questions answered. AARP has valuable resources to answer the questions that come up as you prepare to claim your retirement benefits. Wondering if you’re eligible for benefits from a former spouse? Not sure if you should claim if you’re going to continue working? Find the answers to these questions and more by using the AARP Social Security Q&A Tool.
  • Get your Social Security statement online. Create an online account, which will give you access to your Social Security benefits statement. The statement, sent each birthday to those 60 and older who have not yet claimed, is available at any time online.
  • Explore when to claim your benefits. Use AARP’s Social Security Benefits Calculator to determine when it makes the most sense for you to claim your benefits, in order to maximize your monthly income for life. Check out claiming strategies for you and your family, and the implications of working after claiming.
  • Invest some time in further reading about the strategies available to you. AARP’s six tips sheets on Social Security cover the gamut of issues you’ll need to know prior to filing for benefits. Access tip sheets on how marriage, divorce, work and taxes affect Social Security benefits.
  • Include Social Security in your retirement planning and see how you stack up. Will you have enough money to live the way you want in retirement? Use AARP’s Retirement Calculator to take a deeper look at your individual numbers.

You don’t have to claim at 62 or 66 – or anywhere in between. You can claim as late as age 70. If you do, you’ll reap the rewards of your patience – an even higher monthly benefit for life, and a higher benefit for your eligible dependents after you pass away.  And in case you’re wondering, the Social Security program turned 62 quite a white ago – it turns 78 in August of this year.

Jean C. Setzfand is Vice President of the Financial Security Team in the Education and Outreach group at AARP. She leads AARP’s educational and outreach efforts aimed at helping Americans have a financial ‘peace of mind’ in retirement.


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