The Shifting Retirement Age

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In 1935, the original retirement age for Full Benefits was set at age 65. Why age 65? First, life expectancy in 1935 was at or about age 61, therefore the odds of collecting Social Security was slim to none. Secondly, Germany had the first Social Security system and that was the age they had chosen – so maybe the United States just wasn’t original. Thirdly, the Social Security Historian’s office stated that since railroad pensions and other state systems’ used age 65, it was a practical actuarial choice.

Whatever the reason, 65 remained the Full Retirement Age until 1983 when there were amendments to the Social Security Act. The explanations for the change were that people were living longer and that by raising the full retirement age saved the SSA money, putting the program on a sounder financial footing.

Then, in 1956, age 62 was introduced as the EARLY retirement age for women and the same was extended to men in 1961. This is retained in the present law; however, benefits are cut for taking early.

We still see people filing at age 62 each day – because they are eligible they take the benefit. By doing this, they usually do not realize the consequences – reducing their benefit from 25-30%, eliminating claiming strategies that improve their income stream, reducing the Survivor Benefit, having to deal with Earnings Limitations if still working to name just a few. These are serious consequences that can in most cases be eliminated with just a little planning and flexibility.

The Social Security office is there to take your order based on your benefit amount. Their job is not to look at your benefits and give you advice about the best way to file. With very few exceptions, people do not realize that the Social Security office does not know if you are married, single, divorced, if your ex-spouse was drawing disability, if you have two children under the age of 18, if you also worked for the railroad and have a different set of rules to follow, if you had another job that did not require you to pay SS taxes, if you are entitled to a Spousal Boost or claiming strategy, and the list goes on. You need to have all these questions answered and your options calculated before going to file.

Pillars LLC is in the Corinth, MS area but service all 50 states. Roy and Diane are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of over 40 years. You may contact them at, on their website at or call at 601-954-0699. KNOW before you GO!!

When Should I File?

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First, people need to know when their Full Retirement Age is – most people do not know the answer to this question. The answer can be found on your SS statement. You need to set up an account at to obtain your latest SS statement and there will be a benefit amount listed at your Full Retirement Age. You need to set up this account and check each year against your W-2; many mistakes are found in your Earnings History listing and this is what is used to calculate your benefit amount.


65 if you were born before 1937

65+ months if you were born between 1938 and 1942

66 if you were born between 1943 and 1954

66+ months if you were born between 1955 and 1959

67 if you were born after 1960

When can you start filing? The earliest you can file is age 62 and any month between 62-70 is acceptable. Some of the complications with filing before your Full Retirement Age are: benefits are immediately reduced by 25-30% depending on your year of birth, you immediately reduce the Survivor Benefit, you immediately eliminate any claiming strategies that exist to improve your situation over and above the three options listed on your statement, and if still working you will be hit with the Earnings Limitations rule which is $17,040 for 2018 (if you earn over this amount, SS will reduce your benefit $1 for every $2 over that maximum). A lot to consider, but most people only consider the fact that they are eligible and therefore start drawing. You also need to consider what works best for you and your family – are there health issues, do you want to continue working, are you mentally ready for retirement, can you absorb the medical insurance issue between 62-65, and what level of income do you need or want to maintain? These are just a few of the considerations that need to be thoroughly reviewed prior to a BEST decision.

For many people, waiting until age 70 is not the best choice either. I read 5 articles today that clearly listed filing at age 70 as your best option; all we can do is shake our heads. These articles are written by financial professionals and they are not aware of some of the rule changes. Waiting and filing at age 70, has eliminated claiming strategies you may qualify for to provide an income stream between age 66-70. Claiming strategies are not just for married couples, but can include those widowed and divorced people as well, if they qualify under the new rules. In summary, you simply left money on that table that you qualified for by not knowing the rules and regulations. Also, people still believe that they file for Social Security at full retirement age of 65, the same as Medicare – this has changed and this error will cost you money in the long run.

If we had $10 for every person we have talked to, that wished they had contacted a professional prior to filing, we would not be writing these articles!!

The purpose of this article is to try and make people aware of the fact that Social Security is an area of expertise just like Financial Planning, Tax Law, Medicare and other professions. If you don’t concentrate and study it each day, missing just one rule or regulation can cause your client to miss out on income he/she has earned. Ron Carson, CEO of Carson Wealth Management Group, recently stated that retirees are leaving an estimated $10 billion in Social Security benefits unclaimed each year because they have not optimized their claiming strategies. We truly understand that waiting is not possible for everyone, but our goal is to allow people to see their options and make a prudent decision from their reports we provide. Do yourself a favor – it is well worth it!!

Pillars LLC is in the Corinth, MS area but service all 50 states. Roy and Diane are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of over 40 years. You may contact them at, on their website at or call at 601-954-0699. KNOW before you GO!!