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The maximum benefit occurs if you made about $48,000 of today's dollars. There is an inflation adjustment factor for each year. If you look around hard enough at www.ssa.gov, you can find the tables. Now, suppose for the sake of argument, you had a few years of $60,000, followed by a few of $0.00. Then, your benefit will not be reduced, probably.

Of course, it will be reduced by age. If you are not going to work past 62, then you can look at mortality tables and come to the conclusion you should take the money and run. This is especially true if there is a history of early death in your family, or if you are otherwise at risk like being a lifelong smoker and/or very fat. (I'm just talking statistics, folks.) The real 62 vs. 65 question, it seems to me, is the clawback that occurs if you have earned income after 62. Then a calculation has to occur. Of course everybody's case is unique, but the clawback is bad enough that if you're an average guy and are planning on working more than 2, perhaps 3, days a week between ages 62 and 65, you're most likely better off to wait.
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