Fort Mill Times

Financial Focus: Thinking of retiring?

Every year, as another birthday approaches, my Social Security statement arrives in the mail. The first thing I do is open it to see if I will get more than shown on last year’s statement!

When I ask clients about their statements, I find that most pay little attention to this annual communication, although they can usually find it in the “important pile.” In this month’s column, I want to challenge you to read yours when it comes and highlight a few important bits of information.

The folded paper insert is titled “Thinking of retiring?” Retiring is a concept most of us ponder, especially after age 50. Often we consider it seriously only if we believe we have enough money, are tired of working, and are comfortable with the idea of being “retired.”

Unfortunately, some folks are “retired” before they are ready for various reasons, especially in a difficult economic environment.

Did you know Social Security provides you with tools to help you make your retirement decisions? Will you quit working or continue working and receive full or partial benefits? Try using the Retirement Estimator at to help you decide what is best for you and your family. One thing to remember is that a lot of us will live a lot longer than we may be thinking, and it is important to incorporate longevity into retirement planning.

You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits at least three ways:

By going online to

Call 1-800-772-1213

Make an appointment at your local Social Security office. Complete your application for Social Security benefits three months before you want benefits to begin.

Don’t forget Medicare. You must apply for Medicare three months before reaching age 65 even if you don’t plan to receive monthly benefits yet. If you wait, your Medicare medical insurance as well as your prescription drug coverage could be delayed and cost more. For more information, go to

For those born 1943 to 1954, full retirement age is 66. You can receive benefits as early as age 62, but your payment will be reduced. If you begin to receive your payments after FRA, your payment will be increased. It is also possible to receive benefits while you continue to work, but there are Social Security rules that govern your payment.

So…if you are “thinking of retiring,” as your birthday approaches, check your mail for your annual social security statement! It is interesting reading!