Now comes an article from Forbes.com entitled “Trade In Your Social Security Check,” which describes how you can not only stop the social security clock, but you can RESET IT TO ZERO by paying back all of your previously earned social security checks WITHOUT INTEREST. Which certainly answers one of my original arguments about flexibility. You really can’t ask the Social Security Administration to be more flexible than that.
As the article describes, all you have to do to reset the social security clock to zero is to file Form 521 with the SSA and of course, give them a check. And I was amazed to read that about 100,000 people do this annually. And I have the strong feeling that that number will grow annually as more and more boomers find their “encore careers.” And it will be as if they had never filed. How many financial decisions can you say that about. (Try calling your stock broker and saying, “You know that stock I bought six months ago? I’ve changed my mind.” … but I digress.)
Now if you think this sounds exceptionally generous on Uncle Sam’s part, I agree. And if you’re now thinking that this could essentially be used as an interest free loan, I like the way your devious mind works. You are exactly right. The only fly in the ointment is that the loan you’re getting is considered income and you MAY have to pay taxes on it. Which I suppose creates a Catch-22 … If your income is low enough to escape taxation, then how are you going to pay it back? And if your income is high enough so that a tax problem is created, the taxes may negate the “free interest.”
So let’s look forward, as the article does, because it really isn’t a matter of payback, but rather how much of an increase in income can you buy for how much money. The author gives an example of a couple who took social security at age 62 and are now 70. They are currently receiving $11,556 per year, and have received a total of $79,305 each in benefits over those eight years. By filing form 521, each one can repay the $79,305 and immediately increase their benefit by $8,444 annually, to $20,000. As the author indicates, the cheapest commercial annuity would cost them 40% more. From there, it gets a little more complicated, when taxes are reintroduced into the equation, but I hope you get the idea.
And to tell you the truth, I’m much more interested in the idea of hordes of my readers getting all fired up, maybe visiting www.encore.org, finding their “dream second career job,” pursuing their life’s passion, and NOT NEEDING their social security checks until it’s no longer beneficial to defer taking it, usually at age 70.
And as I write this, I’m sitting with my “Social Security Statement” right in front of me. So let me conclude with some real world numbers … mine:
So if I can hang in there to age 70, doing stuff I love to do (like writing for you :-) I’ll get over 75% more per month until the day I die. And even if “dream jobs” come and go, Uncle Sam stands ready to turn benefits “on and off” so I can get at least some of that benefit, as circumstances change. Now THAT’S flexibility. :-) Bob
At age 62, my monthly benefit would be $1383
At age 66, my monthly benefit would be $1845
At age 70, my monthly benefit would be $2425.