Dear Harry: My wife and I have been discussing whether we will have enough money to retire. Since we're both 58, we thought this would be a good time to start getting all of our ducks in a row. Each of us has a decent pension and we own our home clear. We have about $70,000 in savings. Is there some way to determine whether it pays for us to take our Social Security at 62 or wait until we reach 66? We intend to keep working until we reach 66. There are so many things to consider (the money difference, life-expectancy, etc.) that we're baffled. Is there some accurate way to handle all this?
What Harry says: There is no way to get an answer that's definite for the very reasons you cite. In addition, there are the unknown things like accidents and disease. The general rule is to take it as early as you can. The trouble is that this is only a general rule. If you have a family history of longevity, the selection changes. You may fall somewhere in between the ages of 62 and 66. Some of the insurance companies and investment houses have developed programs that can give you results for various alternative scenarios. One of the best that I know is from Metropolitan Life on the Internet (metlife.com/fileassets/ ssscalc). It is less detailed than most of the others, but it will give you some numbers you can easily digest. *