Reliable process to determine retirement age

Published 5:11 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2019

By Shane Starr
LaGrange resident

Retirement planning is pretty complicated. There’s a lot to consider, don’t you think? People try to explain to me what is happening with the global capital market, the latest Federal Reserve moves, and whether Washington’s trade policies are helpful or not.  Usually I employ my “serious slow nod,” which is meant to communicate intellectual agreement, but in reality, means my brain is on another planet, like wondering if a self-driving car burning ethanol could be arrested for DUI. I give my wife the same nod when she’s coaxing me to remember her second cousin’s husband whom I met once at our wedding forty years ago.   

But back to retirement — there’s so many unknowns to guess at. Will social security remain solvent?  Should I take less money at 62, full retirement at 66 ½, or wait even longer until I’m 70 to draw? What if I don’t live to be 70? And what is inflation going to do? Deciding when to draw social security depends entirely on how long you expect to live. If your family has a history of dying young, start drawing as soon as possible. If you think you’re going to live past age 80, defer drawing as long as possible. We need an easier way to weigh all of these complexities.

Fortunately, my education was in economics (disclaimer: note that I did not refer to myself as an “economist”), so I have developed an easy-to-use test that will help determine when you should start drawing social security. Simply choose “A” or “B” from each of the following questions, and give yourself one point for each A answer and zero points for each B answer.

I prefer to eat (A) a bacon cheeseburger (B) kale salad with pine nuts and no dressing 2. I would rather (A) watch a football game on TV (B) take a brisk walk 3. My blood pressure is under control due to (A) medication (B) meditation. 4. I think depression is (A) normal (B) often hidden and dangerous to your health  5. Fruits should (A) add variety to a rum punch (B) be eaten at every meal. 6. I think diabetes is (A) a Greek philosopher (B) a blood sugar disorder.

Okay! Now add up your points and we’ll evaluate your social security score. If you scored 4,5, or 6, you should definitely start drawing retirement at 62. You also might want to consider accelerating progress on your bucket list. And possibly making sure you have a will. If you scored 2 or 3, it makes sense to wait until full retirement age — between 66 and 67, depending on your birthyear — before starting to draw. If you scored 0-1, you definitely want to wait until age 70 to begin social security. You should also volunteer to be the coordinator for your high school’s 75-year reunion. In the meantime, form a pickleball team and join a league at the rec center.

See?  I guess its not that difficult after all, if you just have a reliable scientific process.