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Mark Miller: Remaking Retirement

When Are You 'Money Ahead' on Social Security?

Your "break-even age" is just one factor to consider when deciding when to claim, says contributor Mark Miller.

Andy Landis worked in the Social Security Administration's field offices for 12 years, helping people figure out when and how to file for their retirement benefits. He is more familiar than most with how people weigh the pros and cons of a key choice--whether to start benefits as early as possible or get a higher payment down the road by delaying their claims.

"I would run through all the numbers with people on the additional benefits they could receive by waiting," he said. "At the end of it, the response would be: 'Thank you very much--now just give me my money. I don't know how long I'll live.'"