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SirTas -

Before I deal with your questions - an answer for a question you did not ask. Call Social Security. By and large the people on the phones are amazing and helpful. As your questions. They have the facts.

I do not think DW can get a nickel based on your SS until you die. If she wants, you can get money based on your work record or her work record. It will be her choice.

Spend a little time thinking about your health and when you expect to die. We don't know. We can get struck by lightening - but we all have parents and we all have general health issues. Unless you have reason to expect you will die before the average life expectancy for people your age, do not start social security payment before age 70. Obvious exception -- do not starve. But if you have to lower your standard of living, for a few years, that might be a wise idea. Medical costs are not going down anytime soon. Older folks have more medical issues. And I do not think it likely the general tax paying public is going to pay for retiree's medicare beyond what they are all ready - 75% or medicare costs are paid by those people working. Only 25% in the premiums we retirees pay.

Regarding life expectancy
See Tables 2a & 2b

Lets say your Life Expectancy at age 62 is 20 years -- i.e. The average person who is your same age will live to age 82. If you start taking SS at age 62 - let us assume the payment is $15,000 per year. (We are going to neglect COLAs because they do not matter for my point.) So for the average person 20 year time $15K = $300,000. If you start at age 70 instead, your annual payment will be $300,000 divided by 12 years (82 minus 70 = 12 years) -- or $25,000 per year. Now lets say you live to age 88. In the years from age 82 to 88 -- 6 years you will have SS income totally $60,000 more than if you had started SS at age 62. Obviously if you have heart trouble, a family history of cancer, you smoke, etc. start SS as soon as possible -- you are not likely to reach the average age.

Life Expectancy is the age at which half the people in the group or sample are predicted to die. In half die, another 50% are still collecting payments.

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