Jim will be 67 in July, but he has not yet claimed his Social Security benefits. If he starts his benefits then, they will be 8% higher than they would have been at age 66, his full retirement age.

Jim has the option of starting his benefits up to six months earlier, in January of 2019, so-called "retroactive filing." In that case, he would get a lump sum check for the six months during which he did not collect any benefits.

Although some retirees may find this attractive, it is not "free money" it comes with a cost. Jim's benefits will be computed as of the January start date, and some of his credits for delayed retirement will be lost. The reduction is permanent.

Consult with your tax and investment advisors about all your alternatives before making any such important decisions.

(July 2019)
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