Dear Rusty: I am currently unemployed and drawing funds from my IRA. I am 62 years old. My financial adviser instructed me to not take Social Security because once I do that the percentage of increase would stop. He said to wait until the benefits increased to the point where I could then take Social Security and leave my IRA alone. Does that seem right? Also, I have applied for SS Disability benefits and have been rejected, but I am currently appealing that decision. Is my next step a lawyer? If so do you have any recommendations? Signed: Befuddled
Dear Befuddled: If you take your Social Security (SS) benefits at age 62, your payment will be cut by about 27.5% from what it would be at your full retirement age of 66 ½. If you wait, your SS payment when you claim it will have grown for each month you delay. You only get 100% of the SS benefit you have earned from a lifetime of working when you reach your full retirement age (FRA). The rate of benefit growth before you reach your FRA is a bit more than 6% for each year you wait, so I expect that your financial advisor compared that guaranteed growth to the interest you are receiving on your IRA and concluded that waiting to claim a higher SS benefit for the rest of your life is a better deal. Provided you are in good health, that seems like a prudent suggestion. And just so you are aware, if you delay claiming SS beyond your FRA, you’ll earn an additional 8% for each year you further delay, up to age 70 when your SS benefit would be about 75% more than it will be if you take it now.
Regarding your disability appeal, I cannot recommend a specific attorney, but I suggest you seek one who specializes in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. SSDI attorneys must adhere to Federal law and they are limited in what they can charge you. Usually that limit is 25% of whatever back SSDI benefits they can secure for you (paid from those back benefits) to a maximum of $6000. There should be no charge for an initial consultation, and you shouldn’t be required to pay anything unless they win your case for you. The easiest way to find someone to assist you is to do a search for “SSDI attorneys near me” and then do some initial research on your search results before selecting. You’ll be able to judge the strength of your SSDI appeal by whether the SSDI attorney accepts your case – they’ll only accept your case if they believe they can win and be compensated for their efforts. Only you can judge if engaging an attorney is a wise idea at this point. You still have multiple SSDI appeal levels available to you, and an SSDI attorney can be engaged at any point you choose.
This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation’s staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website (amacfoundation.org/programs/social-security-advisory) or email us at [email protected].