Sat12272014

News

Merry spirits: Traditional holiday drinks and memories that surround them

Merry spirits: Traditional holiday drinks and memories that surround them


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Town Crier columnist Christine Moore’s holiday drink menu includes her take on the Moscow Mule, the Bucking Reindeer.

Growing up, our dogs were always outside dogs. We lived in the country, which made...

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Schools

Santa Rita visits The Terraces

Santa Rita visits The Terraces


Susie Greenwald’s third-grade class at Santa Rita School has a special relationship with The Terraces at Los Altos, a senior retirement community. The class visits the center once a month to share quality time with the residents, above. The s...

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Community

Veterinarians offer advice for keeping pets safe over holidays

Veterinarians offer advice for keeping pets safe over holidays


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The holidays present a number of hazards for pets. Be sure to secure electrical cords to keep playful cats at bay.

During the holidays – when people tend to focus more on family and food – pets are often overlooked. But...

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Sports

Owls getting a lot out of a little

Owls getting a lot out of a little


In a typical season for the Foothill College women’s basketball team, coach Jody Craig wouldn’t be satisfied with a 7-4 start and No. 8 ranking in Northern California.

But this isn’t a typical season. Craig had just a few weeks ...

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Comment

Holiday cheer: No Shoes, Please

Admittedly, the holidays are not my favorite time of year. I don’t like sharing streets and parking lots with a zillion other people who need to get their shopping done. I don’t like being reminded by a holiday doomsday countdown clock h...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Pharmacy headed to 400 Main St.

Pharmacy headed to 400 Main St.


Ellie Van houtte/Town Crier
Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy is scheduled to open a new store in the Jeffrey A. Morris Group’s 400 Main St. project. The new location will open in late February.

A new tenant is slated to call the recently complet...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

MERLYN "DALE" STUBBS

Merlyn "Dale" Stubbs, a 51 year resident of Los Altos Hills, passed away on December 15, 2014.

Dale was born to Harry and Anna Stubbs in Americus, Kansas on February 10, 1926.

When Dale was 9 years old his father, a carpenter, suffered a fatal hear...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

'Starcatcher' runs until Jan. 3 in PA

'Starcatcher' runs until Jan. 3 in PA


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Adrienne Walters stars as Molly and Tim Homsley portrays Peter in the TheatreWorks production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” playing through Jan. 3 at Palo Alto’s Lucie Stern Theatre.

TheatreWorks’ producti...

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Spiritual Life

The good news: Christmas means the long wait is over

Ah, Christmas! The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the presents are set to be given and received, and preparations are underway to be with family.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Are there benefits to taking Social Security early?

Following is the first in a two-part series exploring the pros and cons of taking early Social Security payments.

I’ve written numerous articles over the years about strategies for maximizing Social Security benefits.

The most fundamental decision all retirees face is when to start taking payments. If you need the money, you may have no choice but to start taking payments as soon as you are eligible. But if that’s not the case, which is better: to start as early as possible and invest the proceeds or to wait and take advantage of higher payments?

It’s important to understand how Social Security payments work. Your Full Retirement Age (FRA), based on your date of birth, is the age at which you can begin collecting what the Social Security Administration calls your Primary Insurance Amount. This is the monthly amount the administration sends you for the rest of your life. The calculation of your Primary Insurance Amount is a bit complicated, but suffice it to say that it is based on your highest 35 years of earned income, adjusted for inflation.

To add to the complexity, the Social Security Administration allows some flexibility. You can choose to begin collecting your benefits at your FRA, as early as age 62 (even earlier in certain circumstances) or as late as age 70. If you choose to start early, you will receive reduced benefits for the rest of your life; if you choose to start later, you will receive expanded benefits (called delayed credits).

For every year you delay after age 62 until FRA, your initial monthly payment increases by 8 percent. The same is true for every year you delay between your FRA and age 70. For example, if you begin collecting benefits at age 62 and your FRA is age 66, your starting payment will be only 75 percent of your Primary Insurance Amount. If you wait until age 70 – the longest you can wait and still receive the 8 percent annual delayed credits – your initial payment will be 32 percent higher than your Primary Insurance Amount.

As you might surmise, the age at which you start can have a significant impact on the total income you receive over your retirement lifetime.

It’s also important to consider two other facts about Social Security benefits: If you start taking benefits before your FRA and you are currently working, your benefits will be reduced; and regardless of your starting age, your payments include cost-of-living adjustments that enable you to keep pace with inflation.

Break-even analysis

If you’re the analytical type, you might approach this question by doing a break-even analysis.

Calculate the age at which you would have accumulated the same total income regardless of whether you start collecting benefits at age 62 or at age 70. If you treat this as a simple mathematical exercise, the answer is age 82. That is, if you plan to die before age 82, it’s better to start your Social Security benefits as early as possible (i.e., at age 62), but if you plan to live longer, you should wait until age 70 to start.

However, such an analysis would be quite incomplete. Assuming that you plan to invest your Social Security income, realistically there are a couple of other factors you need to take into account:

• The return on investment of your Social Security income.

• The inflation rate, which impacts the growth over time of the Social Security payments.

• Your tax rate, which affects not only how much you may keep but also how much of your Social Security income is taxable.

Doug Lemons, retired Social Security Administration deputy assistant regional commissioner, recently completed the above analysis using various return on investment, inflation rate and tax rate assumptions. In part 2 of this series, I’ll share the very interesting conclusion he reached.

Artie Green, a Los Altos resident, is a certified financial planner and professional investment adviser. For more information, call (408) 747-1222.

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