The program's shaky finances were one reason that Arlie Collins, a retired plumbing contractor from Greensboro, Ga., applied for his benefits three months before he turned 62 in December.
was among 1.3 million men age 62 and older whose retirement benefits began in 2009, according to Urban Institute research.
didn't mind that Social Security would reduce his
monthly payments by about 25 percent, or roughly $250, for starting to collect at 62 instead of 66.
After talking with an accountant, Collins determined that he
was better off getting less money now than he
would be if he
waited for larger monthly checks later.
"I did the math, and if I had waited for my full retirement (at age 66), I would have had to wait until I was 82 or 83 years old before I made up the money I was getting between 62 and 66," Collins
"To tell the truth, I wasn't really sure if Social Security would be around when I'm 82, or at least in the same form."
Since Social Security allows retirees to earn up to $14,100 a year before their retiree benefits are penalized, Collins plans to supplement his
Social Security payments with some plumbing jobs and the $3,000 to $4,000 he
earns each year as the chairman of the Greene County Board of Education.