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Letters to the Editor: January/February 2011

Social Security — when to start?

I take exception to one piece of advice in "25 Top Questions & Answers on Social Security" [December], which boils down to: Wait as long as possible to collect your benefit. The author's math emphasizes only the increase in the benefit the longer one waits, and ignores the fact that one would be collecting the reduced benefit for a longer period of time. Using his figures ($1,000/mo. @ age 62 vs. $1,333/mo. @ age 66), the break-even age would be just over 78, since 16 years at $1,000/mo. and 12 years at $1,333/mo. are both about $192,000. It would seem to make sense to collect early and invest it, unless one's family history suggests a long life.

Richard G. LeSchander
Harvey Cedars, N.J.

Take that!

Several months ago, I received a notice in the mail saying that I'd won a BIG sweepstakes, and that when I paid the "mandatory processing fee" of $11.43, I would get the prize ["New Math Pays Off," Scam Alert]. The sender even thoughtfully included a slip I could fill out for my credit card info.

So, I obliterated my name and address, and mailed everything to a post office box (always a P.O. box, never a street address) in Kansas City, Kan., United States of America.

I would love to have been the ol' fly on the wall when the folks there read what I'd scribbled: "I've gotten better crap online from Nigeria."

Gini Brydle
Tucson, Ariz.

Financial guru

Thank you for bringing finance expert Jane Bryant Quinn to the pages of the AARP Bulletin ["From a Hedgehog to a Fox"].

She arrives just in time for many of us "hedgehogs" who can still benefit from her commonsense approach to personal finances, and her humor, to put retirement matters (including recent financial losses) into perspective.

Susan Baugh
Sammamish, Wash.

Medicare premiums

The article about Medicare plans ["What You Need to Know for 2011"] states that a higher premium is based on "taxable income." Medicare calculates premiums based on "modified adjusted gross income," not taxable income. Medicare adds together adjusted gross income and tax-free income (as in municipal bonds) to come up with a higher income, the MAGI.

Judith D. Ginn
Nashville, Tenn.

Editor's note: For fuller information on calculating Medicare premiums, you can go to:

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