We’ve had a couple of calls about Social Security benefits today.

Our first call was from Timothy. He’s 62, and has a severance package (from being laid off) plus a pension, 401(k) and a wife who is still working. He’s trying to decide if he should take social security at 63 or wait until he is 66, and get the full retirement amount.

Bob called in to ask how social security spousal benefits are calculated and whether he could take spousal benefits until his social security kicks in and then switch over.

I told Tim he should think carefully before taking Social Security because if he’s going to work part-time, he may not need it. He’ll take a pretty big hit by taking social security benefits before his full retirement age of 66. If he can wait, he’ll do better over the longer term. I suggested he sit with his wife and analyze where the numbers are coming from. Then they can decide if they need the extra cash.

With Bob, I recommended he take a look at the Social Security spousal benefits booklet.

Here’s where to find it: www.ssa.gov and there’s a quick calculator at http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html

Sept. 8, 2008