Retirement dreams?

You should. They are pretty good at keeping you informed about your benefits and will notify you about increases you can expect.

The COLA info comes right after the start of the year if I remember right. You may actually see the percentage in the news before SSA notifies you.

I think that’s the exact same date that they told me my first deposit would happen.

I assumed it coincided with my birthdate, Dec. 10

It will always be on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th Wed of each month. Which of those depends on your birthdate.

Brave soul, providing the Internet at large with a birthdate!

On Social Security: my plan had been to wait until I was 70 to max the monthly payments. However, I decided to take it as soon as I could take it without a penalty for working. We calculated how much we would get if we took mine and my wifes now until I turned 70 vs. how long it would take for the extra we would get each month at 70 to break even. For us, it was about 12 years. We get around $4000 a month and we used that to pay off debt pretty quickly; that plus the money we got when my mother passed away last December has us 100% debt free including the house, which makes retirement a lot less scary.

Side note: we had a 2.9% mortgage. The smart purely analytical thing to do would have been to take the money to pay off the mortgage and put it into a fund that made, say, 5%, and paid the mortgage each month from that. But we decided to just pay off the house for the admittedly purely emotive satisfaction of being 100% debt free.

We have never paid off our mortgage after getting the interest rate down low and only owing $40k. The money we would use to pay it off makes us more through investments, and it’s not enough to work as a tax deduction.

There is never a doubt that holding a low-rate mortgage as long as possible is the right min-max move. But we did the same as @JeffL and for the same reason. Having literally no debt is worth losing out on a few long-term dollars - not many other ways to literally buy peace of mind.

I had no min/max/risk/reward calculation to make about Social Security. My benefit is tiny (most of my career in a state system where I did not pay SS tax). So I had to wait until “full retirement age” to see any monthly check and once I do retire the windfall elimination will eliminate either half or all of my benefit (I can’t seem to find a clear answer on that front - but the amount is small anyway).

I guess the way I look at it is if we die still owing money the kids have the option to pay it off using life insurance money or whatever is in the estate at that time, or they can sell the house.

I have a plan like this (a ‘Medicare Advantage’ plan). It doesn’t have any additional monthly cost, as opposed to my wife’s Medicare Medigap plan, which costs her around $135 a month. My plan covers vision and dental (hers doesn’t!). Regarding hips… when I had my first hip replacement, they did indeed require me to go to PT prior to surgery - my doctor fought it but they would not relent. But once I did the PT they happily paid for the replacement. And since then I have had my OTHER hip replaced - no pre-PT required for that one. And I’m having my shoulder replaced in July - no pre-PT required here. So while the initial experience was a bit off-putting, since then it’s been great.

Aside from that one annoyance, I haven’t had a single issue with my Advantage plan. It does pay for dental and vision and I also get $90 per quarter to spend ordering medical stuff from CVS. So all in all, I’m pretty happy with how it’s been so far.

Thanks for sharing that. The biggest decision we have to make is what to do in that area, Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap. I’ve heard from people like you who are very happy with it, and people who have run into significant issues (the latter usually people that ran into some significant health issues.) I suppose, like “normal” insurance, it can also depend on who you buy it from.

Yes, this is very much the big question.

If I were retiring tomorrow at 65, I probably would look at original Medicare + Medigap and a drug plan. Fully dependent on handling the premium comfortably.
Advantage plans having 0 cost should be a red flag.

Dealing with insurance first in critical situations can be incredibly stressful and destructive to a recovering patient. Case workers aren’t going to be helpful at all. In our last hospital stay, the floor doctor would switch out every other week. We were incredibly lucky 1 doctor was like ‘no, we’re not going to release home. that’s ridiculous’ and added more back and forth with insurance (United). The other doctor/case worker had already started the discharge process.

But yeah it’s piece of mind cost regarding premiums. Thankfully there is no underwriting at enrollment or in a SEP if later.

Thanks. I was hoping I hadn’t missed a timebomb and it was something ridiculous later. That matches with premium/age charts I was looking at.

I’d be curious about switching plans. I’d imagine underwriting outside of an SEP would increase the premium.