Ask Terry Questions When to take social security

When to take social security

By Terry Savage on April 19, 2015 | Financial Planning / Retirement

Hi, Terry. I’m a 65 year-old retired Chicago school teacher receiving my pension and am on medicare. In a few months I will be 66 and will be able to start taking social security. As a public school teacher I am affected by the windfall elimination tax which cut my social security benefits in about half. That means at 66 I could get $300 something a month. If I wait until 70 I believe I would get $400 something a month. I could honestly use the extra $300/month now in order to pay off my credit cards (about $5,000 total debt) and then live a little easier and save some each month. Right now I’m close to broke at the end of each month. I don’t want to be shortsighted so I’d like your opinion as to when would be better for me to start taking ss. I’m not working but am open to a part time job while I’m (relatively) young and in good health. Thanks for your insight.

Terry Says:  OK, this is a tough one.  I ALWAYS recommend waiting until FULL RETIREMENT AGE to take SS.  That’s an easy one to answer.  The reason you would delay to 70 is that you will not only get more money every month, but a higher base check on which any inflation increases (COLAs) are applied.  If you could hang in there, force yourself to take a part-time job for the next 4 or 5 years, that would be best for you.  But there are other personal considerations.  If you don’t expect to live to a ripe old age, you might be better off taking the money sooner.  A higher check doesn’t do much good if you only get it for a few years, and have to work yourself into the ground in your late sixties.

On the home page at, under the “Calculators” tab you will find a terrific calculator to help you decide in terms of dollars and cents!

Recent Financial Planning / Retirement Questions



a personal
finance question