A: Delay starting benefits as long as possible. Your Social Security benefits are increased by 8 percent a year (over the amount at full retirement age) for every year you postpone receiving checks between your full retirement age and age 70. For me, the difference between receiving benefits at 62 and 70 could wind up being about $1,000 a month.
Delaying Social Security paychecks can make a huge difference in your husband's lifetime, given his family's longevity. But everyone's situation depends on variables including health, employment history and personal savings. There's no set age for starting to collect Social Security benefits. But the later you decide to claim (up until age 70), the greater the potential benefits.
And yes, you can start and stop payments, but if your husband changes his mind about the decision to take Social Security, he needs to know the rules. Go to ssa.gov/retire2/ withdrawal.htm.
Q: I'm 55 and have been in sales management my entire career at large consumer-product companies. I've been searching for a new position but feel I'm being discriminated against because of my age. Are there part-time sales positions where I could utilize my skills but not work 40-plus hours? I don't want to work retail.
A: I know what you mean about that feeling of someone looking at you and seeing your expiration date. Independent contracting is one solution. Just in the past year, the independent workforce has grown to 16.9 million from 16 million, according to research by Herndon, Va.-based MBO Partners. Forty percent of those contractors are 50 and older, and 10 percent are over 65.
Q: Should people retire?
A: It's great to keep working, for lots of reasons - the mental engagement and, for many of us, the income boost. Working for income provides a safety net, and in today's work environment there are plenty of opportunities for flexible hours and schedules, part-time and seasonal jobs. But often health issues get in the way. The will may be there, but the body doesn't cooperate.
I agree with Hannon. As she also writes in her book, if you're in good health, you should consider working as part of your retirement plan.