Social Security for FERS Employees, by Todd Carmack

I am often asked by clients “When should I start taking my Social Security payments?”. There is no single right answer to that question because everyone designs their retirement differently. This added income can make a difference on when you decide to retire and how much of a benefit you are willing to accept. I can only supply you with the options and facts to allow you to make an informed decision.

To be eligible for Social Security, you must first have worked a specific number of quarters. You will need 40 quarters to be fully insured for life. In other words, if you have worked for 10 years in jobs covered by Social Security, you can assume you are fully insured.

Social Security benefits are based on the age when you retire and your earnings history. Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) are increases usually adjusted yearly, which reflect the percentage increase of the CPI (Consumer Price Index).

The earliest age you may start receiving Social Security payments is 62. For those who reach age 62 in the year 2000, the minimum age for full benefits is age 65. This will increase to age 67 for anyone reaching the age of 67 in the year 2022 or after. For every year that you start your Social Security payments prior to full retirement age, you will lose 6% a year. Example, if your full benefit retirement age is 65 and you begin payments at age 62, you will receive 80% of your full benefit. If your full benefit retirement age is age 67, and you begin payments at age 62, you will only receive 70% of your full benefit amount.

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