Q. I’m 61 years old, retired and in fairly good health. My wife is still working and combined with our income from my savings — we’re really not in need of Social Security money. Given this, I am planning to apply for my benefits only when I turn 65 and 10 months. In other words, I’m opting to NOT take 20% penalty and start the payments at age 62. Am I doing the right thing?? Is there a magical number before I turn 65 & 10 months (e.g., age 64?) when the penalty converges to minimal and I should start getting my Social Security benefits?

A. The Social Security reduction for early retirement is roughly actuarially sound. That is, if beneficiaries live to normal retirement age they receive the same dollar value whether benefits begin at age 62, at full retirement age or any month in between. The age-62 reduction for a worker born in 1942 is about 24 percent. (It rose to 25 percent for persons for whom age 66 is full retirement age and will rise to 30 percent when full retirement increases to age 67.) There is no “magical number” where the reduction becomes minimal. The annual cost-of-living adjustment is added to benefits beginning at age 62 whether or not the wage earner has begun benefits.