A little more information

The two main activities in my life: Helping the hungry in the late hours of the night and helping guitar players sound better one amp at a time.

I always try to remember that in order to do good one has to take action and actually do something.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I have watched the city and Southern California change for well over half a century.

I can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/mylesr or on twitter at www.twitter.com/myles111us or on my own Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting website at www.mylesrose.com

Los Angeles Architectural History

Los Angeles Architectural History
1935 Art Deco at some of its finest: No. 168 - Griffith Observatory- (click on the photo for information)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some folks explain "Why I Took Social Security Early"

Elaine Armstrong, 63

At age 62, I was laid off from my job when the small landscaping company where I worked as a bookkeeper was acquired by a Canadian conglomerate. I had $10,000 in credit card debt at the time and aside from unemployment benefits, I had no other source of income..... her story and more ....
 I live alone and, after helping my kids with their finances, I have no major savings. I had to sign up for Social Security early just to keep my head above water.

I see no jobs on the horizon for anyone, let alone someone of my age. Still, I'm looking. But I have a bad hip and a bad shoulder. It's not like I could be a cashier at Wal-Mart and stand all day!

I'm probably not going to be homeless but it's just going to be a struggle.

Daniel Ryan, 63

First, we got slammed on 9/11. It was supposed to be my first day at a new job as a marketing manager for a poster maker. After being stranded in Tennessee for a week [when all flights were grounded], I returned home to Kansas only to find an email that said the company decided not to fill the position after all. They were scared of what was going to happen with the economy.

That was just the beginning as I found myself in the world of age discrimination. Even though I had years of tech work for companies like Sony, Microsoft, etc. I was unable to get work. Then in 2005, my wife's company decided to shut down her office. It took her 5 years to get a part-time job!

So in short, we went from making over $100K per year to $16K per year. We had to have food stamps and we filed for bankruptcy.

I realized we weren't going to make it, and when I turned 62 I was forced to sign up for Social Security to help make ends meet. I didn't really want to do it, but I had no choice.

Now I'm developing web sites for myself and a couple of others, but it is not enough extra income. Social Security provides me about $715 a month, and if my wife wasn't working, we wouldn't be able to make it.

George Friedman, 66

I retired from my job as an aerospace engineer at Lockheed Martin when I was 60. At that time, I had originally intended to wait until 66 or later to take Social Security so the benefit would be as high as possible. I had invested for more than 30 years, and my plan all along was to be taking money out of my IRA.

Instead, with the market tanking in March 2008, I decided that it would be better to start taking my Social Security at 64 rather than having to sell my investments at a low market value. My pension pays about $550 a month after taxes -- which isn't enough to get by -- and I didn't want to keep just pulling money out of my IRA.

It was a good move. On April 25 this year, my investments recovered their recession losses.

(side note by Myles:  Looking on my Saunders Index chart April 23, 2010 was the peak of the economy for a few years.  I hope he pulled his investments and re-invested in some manner or took his money and ran.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20.)

To maximize our benefits, we're still holding off my wife Susan's Social Security even though she is now 65. I have a good newsletter I follow for investing in mutual funds and ETFs so I'm not panicking, but this market ride is no fun!

John Meek, 64

I worked as a VP of marketing and product development for a Fortune 500 company, and I loved my job. But in mid-2005 the company was acquired. I was 59 and was offered a good retirement package, and I took it.

I had done some investing and, in the recession, my retirement planner advised me to pull out some of my more aggressive investments in money markets and stocks, and safe-haven my portfolio instead. We also downsized to a smaller house.

My accountant and I talked it over and we figured it out: If I took early Social Security at 62, I would have to reach 76 or 77 to break even [and get less benefits over a lifetime than if I'd waited to get] full benefits at 66.

I did it, and I'm glad I did because those two -- the pension and Social Security -- gave me the base I needed, and I still do a little work on the side. I work as an instructor teaching high performance driving on race tracks.

Thankfully, I haven't had to go into any of my savings for these past 5 years.

Paul Henderson, 62

In March of 2008, at age 60, I lost my job of 5 years that we moved halfway across the country to take. Six months later, my wife, aged 59, also lost her job. I had been working as an engineer at General Motors and my wife was an administrative assistant for an auto parts maker, so we took a hit from the auto industry's collapse.

We've been dutifully searching for employment to no avail.

We are convinced we're the victims of age discrimination. We both had outstanding careers in our respective chosen fields and had a long-term plan that included working until age 66. Now, the combination of our pension, Social Security and taking money from our 401(k) gets us to an income level that's half what it was when we worked. We're just kind of limping along.

We both are in good health and have 80 years of experience between us to offer. Although we each have a pension and some 401(k) funds, we have to start taking Social Security in order to make ends meet. It deeply saddens us to be in this position, but we have no choice.

Just a few of the stories out there.

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