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Make Social Security Part of the Retirement Plan

Social Security is in trouble. As the baby boom generation nears retirement age, Social Security is getting ever closer to negative cash flow, meaning there will be more people taking payouts from the system than there are workers paying in. The turning point will probably occur in 2016 or 2017.

However, the Social Security Administration reports that the current schedule of benefits will be payable up until 2041, even if nothing is done to amend the system.

The SSA reports that beyond 2041, benefits will still be payable, only reduced by 22% -- further reductions would occur in subsequent years. As a result, it's important to consider the impact Social Security will have on your retirement plans.

First, you need to make sure you get what you deserve in terms of benefits, which means actually checking the Social Security statement that arrives in your mailbox each year, about three months before your birthday.

The amount of your benefits depends on your earnings history, so you'll want to make sure the SSA has the right amount listed for each year you earned taxable income. If you find an error, contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

For more information about your statement, check out the SSA Web site.

Your next big decision is choosing when you receive benefits -- you can get a check from the SSA as early as age 62, or you can wait until you turn 70. The earlier you receive your benefits, however, the less money you'll get in each check.
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