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Serious Medical Diagnosis=Take SS Sooner?
Old 10-02-2012, 11:00 AM   #1
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Serious Medical Diagnosis=Take SS Sooner?

I did all my financial modeling for retirement out to age 100, starting to draw Social Security at my full retirement age of 66 + 4 months. Since being diagnosed with cancer, I no longer expect to live that long. It's certainly possible--my cancer is at an early and treatable stage--but with cancer there is always a possibility that it will come back...

I'm debating whether to start drawing Social Security at age 62 rather than FRA. How would, or did, a serious medical diagnosis change the date you start drawing SS? (By a "serious medical diagnosis" I mean a medical condition that has the potential to shorten your life.)
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:06 AM   #2
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When I've looked into this question, it seems the breakeven points for 62, 66 and 70 all occur out somewhere in the age 78-81 range. So if I didn't expect to live to 78-81, I'd be seriously considering earlier. Best of luck, good thing cancer treatment seems to improve with every passing year...

Just one of many articles on the topic How to maximize your Social Security payouts - CBS News
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:09 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by kyounge1956 View Post
I did all my financial modeling for retirement out to age 100, starting to draw Social Security at my full retirement age of 66 + 4 months. Since being diagnosed with cancer, I no longer expect to live that long. It's certainly possible--my cancer is at an early and treatable stage--but with cancer there is always a possibility that it will come back...

I'm debating whether to start drawing Social Security at age 62 rather than FRA. How would, or did, a serious medical diagnosis change the date you start drawing SS? (By a "serious medical diagnosis" I mean a medical condition that has the potential to shorten your life.)
I would do whatever seems best without reference to your diagnosis. I know women who had breast cancer 40 years ago, and are still fine and dandy.

Ha
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:21 AM   #4
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How does SS affect your spouse (if you are married?).

If you are married, remember that h/she will get your SS as it would have been the last day you lived, assuming that would be the scenerio.

While I generally suggest that this would be one of the reasons to consider early SS if you are single, only you can determine if it is the best action, based upon your personal situation.

Good luck to you, regardless of your decision. Depending on the form of cancer (which is in my DW/my family history), it's not necessarily a condition (depending on form) that will lead to a much reduced lifespan.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:31 AM   #5
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I agree with others that to answer the question there has to be more info given...

Are you married (I do not remember who is and who is not)...

What kind of cancer..... there are some that are worse than others when it comes to life expectancy...

Will the money make a difference in how you live now IOW, will you do more things now if you had the extra money or just sock it away...

Which leads to my last one, do you have kids you are wanting to leave a legacy


I can only answer for myself.... I would not take it early as I would not change how I am living, I have a spouse that has no SS and would need mine.... on the other side, I do have kids that I would want to leave as much as I could.... but the income to my DW is more important than what I leave to them....
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:03 PM   #6
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I have had two life threatening cancers, Hodgkins Lymphoma and Malignant Melanoma. My response was to opt for the 100% survivor benefit on my pension. Also when my wife draws her DB pension I will sign the papers to allow her to take the single life annuity.

On SS, since I was the higher earning spouse I plan to wait until 70. That way my wife will get a higher amount post my death.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:52 PM   #7
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For me, what follows is a brave thing to bare it all:
I always hoped to retire early but my own cancer diagnosis sure gave it extra impetus. Like you, my cancer (leukemia, currently indolent) is such that I might live a full life expectancy. However, my plans presume that won't be the case.
A supportive spouse who wants to keep working, and savings, helps as well. So, my target date is March 1, 2013 and we've decided I will take the SS when I hit age 62 come August 2014. We are comfortable with that decision. If our approach is wrong, it means I lived after age 78 - sure looks like a win-win to me.
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Old 10-02-2012, 03:19 PM   #8
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Delaying SS is similar to delaying gratification of any other savings. You save money in your 20s and 30s, so that you'll have some in your older age. S.S. is the same way.

The only good reason that I have heard for Not delaying S.S. is that you have such a meager portfolio that you have to have the money to survive.....Otherwise it's similar to your other savings, that you are stashing for your old age.

If you knew when you were going to die, retirement planning would be a lot easier. People seem to be more 'bugged' about leaving S.S. 'on the table' than their own Nest Egg. It's only money.

Look at delaying S.S. as Old Age Insurance.....You may not need it, just like Fire Insurance for your home. But very few regret not having a Fire and not cashing in.
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:11 PM   #9
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SS is a form of annuity, and the size of annuity payments for life are based on life expectancy of a large group. Consequently if you believe your life span will be shorter than the group average, and if maximizing your expected dollars from SS is primary, the math says starting receipts ASAP yields the largest expected return.
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Cut-Throat View Post
Delaying SS is similar to delaying gratification of any other savings. You save money in your 20s and 30s, so that you'll have some in your older age. S.S. is the same way.

The only good reason that I have heard for Not delaying S.S. is that you have such a meager portfolio that you have to have the money to survive.....Otherwise it's similar to your other savings, that you are stashing for your old age.

If you knew when you were going to die, retirement planning would be a lot easier. People seem to be more 'bugged' about leaving S.S. 'on the table' than their own Nest Egg. It's only money.

Look at delaying S.S. as Old Age Insurance.....You may not need it, just like Fire Insurance for your home. But very few regret not having a Fire and not cashing in.
I couldn't agree more. And people who predict their life expectancies are very often wrong. My Dad thought that Mom wouid outlive him by many years, as her health appeared to be better, and she was 7 years younger. But the wheel of fortune saw it differently, and she died first. Same with my brother, he thought he would outlive his wife who was younger and had no illnesses and took very good care of her health. Nevertheless, she is dead and he is very much alive. Make these decisions assuming you know nothing, because that is basically the reality.

Ha
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyounge1956 View Post
I did all my financial modeling for retirement out to age 100, starting to draw Social Security at my full retirement age of 66 + 4 months. Since being diagnosed with cancer, I no longer expect to live that long. It's certainly possible--my cancer is at an early and treatable stage--but with cancer there is always a possibility that it will come back...

I'm debating whether to start drawing Social Security at age 62 rather than FRA. How would, or did, a serious medical diagnosis change the date you start drawing SS? (By a "serious medical diagnosis" I mean a medical condition that has the potential to shorten your life.)
You should take SS when you need it and it makes a necessary and significant contribution to your quality of life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat View Post
Delaying SS is similar to delaying gratification of any other savings. You save money in your 20s and 30s, so that you'll have some in your older age. S.S. is the same way.

The only good reason that I have heard for Not delaying S.S. is that you have such a meager portfolio that you have to have the money to survive.....Otherwise it's similar to your other savings, that you are stashing for your old age.

If you knew when you were going to die, retirement planning would be a lot easier. People seem to be more 'bugged' about leaving S.S. 'on the table' than their own Nest Egg. It's only money.

Look at delaying S.S. as Old Age Insurance.....You may not need it, just like Fire Insurance for your home. But very few regret not having a Fire and not cashing in.
+1

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I couldn't agree more. And people who predict their life expectancies are very often wrong. My Dad thought that Mom wouid outlive him by many years, as her health appeared to be better, and she was 7 years younger. But the wheel of fortune saw it differently, and she died first. Same with my brother, he thought he would outlive his wife who was younger and had no illnesses and took very good care of her health. Nevertheless, she is dead and he is very much alive. Make these decisions assuming you know nothing, because that is basically the reality.

Ha
+1

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Old 10-02-2012, 05:35 PM   #12
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If the extra income would increase your enjoyment of life, go for it. Thing about a serious illness is it makes us realize how precious life is. Plus, it has a way of turning our perception of what's important upside down. Do you have some things you'd love to do? Would the extra income make this possible while preserving your other financial goals?

Hope you stay healthy and this is just a minor bump in the road. Take care of yourself.
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Old 10-02-2012, 07:36 PM   #13
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(snip)While I generally suggest that this would be one of the reasons to consider early SS if you are single, only you can determine if it is the best action, based upon your personal situation.
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I agree with others that to answer the question there has to be more info given...

Are you married (I do not remember who is and who is not)...

What kind of cancer..... there are some that are worse than others when it comes to life expectancy...

Will the money make a difference in how you live now IOW, will you do more things now if you had the extra money or just sock it away...

Which leads to my last one, do you have kids you are wanting to leave a legacy.
I'm now age 56, single, no children. Leaving a financial legacy (either to my nieces or a charity) has never been a big goal for me.

I have breast cancer, borderline between Stages 1 & 2. The impression I get is, there is something like an 85% probability that treatment will work and I'll live about as long as I would have otherwise....or it won't, the cancer will come back and I could, worst case, be dead in under five years (in which case when to take SS would be a moot question since I won't be 62 yet).

Before diagnosis, I thought living at least into my mid-80's was more or less a sure thing, but now, not so much. It's not so much I'm sure I will have a shorter lifespan, it's that I'm a lot less confident of living past the break-even point than I was before this all happened.
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Old 10-02-2012, 07:49 PM   #14
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You need good information from people who have studied survival rates.

For what it is worth here is a quote from Women with breast cancer can live just as long as HEALTHY women thanks to screening, says study | Mail Online

Overall, 15-year survival in England, Wales and Northern Ireland stands at 86 per cent for women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, where it has spread outside the breast.
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Old 10-02-2012, 07:59 PM   #15
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kyoung,

Sorry to hear of your medical situation. I hope that everything goes well with your treatment and you have the best possible outcome.

As your earliest SS date is a minimum of 6 years in the future, why not make the "take at 62 or defer until FRA or 70" decision then? Then you will have a better sense of how your health has been, what the interim government decisions on SS have been, etc.

omni
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:11 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by kyounge1956 View Post
I'm now age 56, single, no children. Leaving a financial legacy (either to my nieces or a charity) has never been a big goal for me.

I have breast cancer, borderline between Stages 1 & 2. The impression I get is, there is something like an 85% probability that treatment will work and I'll live about as long as I would have otherwise....or it won't, the cancer will come back and I could, worst case, be dead in under five years (in which case when to take SS would be a moot question since I won't be 62 yet).

Before diagnosis, I thought living at least into my mid-80's was more or less a sure thing, but now, not so much. It's not so much I'm sure I will have a shorter lifespan, it's that I'm a lot less confident of living past the break-even point than I was before this all happened.
Hey, please don't think this is the end of the world. Take it from my wife who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986. Under went a mastectomy and then another in 1987. Modified radicals. No chemo at all. Said she had too much to live for and wasn't giving up. So she went 10 years to make sure it didn't return and then had reconstruction. I don't think she should have waited for the reconstruction. Today she is 74 and loving life.

Best wishes to you kyounge. They are way more advanced today with the treatments and I'm sure you will be just fine.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:49 PM   #17
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I would do whatever seems best without reference to your diagnosis. I know women who had breast cancer 40 years ago, and are still fine and dandy.

Ha
Yes, my mom had breast cancer when I was in elementary school. She's pushing 95 now.

kyoung, no one enjoys hearing the C word. But I wouldn't start planning on the worst. You have a very curable type of cancer and odds are in your favor. And I would just evaluate your health when you are 62, which is 6 years from now. If no other problems, you are more than likely good to go.

Best of luck.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:20 PM   #18
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Would the money help your living situation significantly at 62? Would less money in the future if you do make it to 80 years be a problem financially?

I would probably lean towards taking it early, especially if it allows you to spend more time enjoying your life when you're younger. Some chemo can have some longer term negative side effects. I think it's important to enjoy life when you're younger, because you never know what the future holds. I think a lot of people re-evaluate their life and long term plans when faced with something like this.

I lost my grandma and aunt to Breast Cancer, but my mom is a 7 year survivor now.

On the SS front, I encouraged my dad to take it at 65/66 instead of waiting till he was 70. He's had a heart attack and has diabetes, so his chances of making it to his late 80's isn't super high.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:17 PM   #19
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If the extra income would increase your enjoyment of life, go for it. Thing about a serious illness is it makes us realize how precious life is. Plus, it has a way of turning our perception of what's important upside down. Do you have some things you'd love to do? Would the extra income make this possible while preserving your other financial goals?

Hope you stay healthy and this is just a minor bump in the road. Take care of yourself.
I agree...100 percent.

On a personal note, kyounge, I can relate to your feelings as my DH was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago. Cancer can cause a lot of anxiety; however it's been my experience as time goes by, optimism grows.

My best to you.
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:20 AM   #20
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Sorry to read this. Take care, kyounge1956.
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Originally Posted by kyounge1956 View Post
I did all my financial modeling for retirement out to age 100, starting to draw Social Security at my full retirement age of 66 + 4 months. Since being diagnosed with cancer, I no longer expect to live that long. It's certainly possible--my cancer is at an early and treatable stage--but with cancer there is always a possibility that it will come back...
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