Rich Galen

If I retire this week and collect 62-year-old benefit, I will have collected about $248,524.80 by the time I die. ($19,416/year for 12.8 years)

At 66 the total will be $239,905.60 ($27,252/year for 8.8 years).

Waiting until I am 70 and I will rake in only $180,460.80 ($37,596/year for 4.8 years).

Well, this is easy! I'll just hop on down to the Social Security office this afternoon and fill out the papers.

Dear Mr. Mullings:

Do you really think the U.S. Government is going to hand you 20 grand a year just for being you?

The American Society of Actuarial Humorists

Yes. Why. Isn't that what this is all about?

$1,618 per month doesn't cover your Starbucks bill.

Well, I'll keep working, of course.

We have two words for you: Earnings Cap.

Ah. It seems that if you are collecting Social Security between the ages of 62 and 66 you have to give back fifty cents of every benefit dollar you earn over about $13,000 per year. So, if you make anything over about $55,000 per year your Social Security benefit drops to zero.

Plus, you have to pay Social Security taxes on the money you make so you are actually in the hole by starting your benefit at 62 and continuing to work at a job that pays more than about a grand a month.

I don't actually intend to retire because of two things:

(1) I don't actually have a job to retire from; and,

(2) my 401k is a good news bad news joke.

The good news is that it is (and has always been) totally in cash so there has been no decrease in its value because of the stock market. The bad news is that its value is about a dollar thirty-seven.

I have to go. Today is a work day.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at