Thursday, October 25, 2007

Did You Hear?

First US Baby Boomer Files For Social Security Benefits
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WASHINGTON — Kathleen Casey-Kirschling filed for early retirement Monday, becoming the first baby boomer to start collecting Social Security.

Born one second after midnight in January 1946, the retired teacher leads the way for as many as 80 million individuals who will qualify for the retirement payout. Casey-Kirschling was born one second after midnight on Jan. 1, 1946, and will receive her first Social Security check in February 2008 as the first wave of baby boomers turns 62 next year and becomes eligible for early retirement benefits.

Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said the agency is bracing for some 80 million Americans to apply for retirement benefits over the next two decades. "We are already feeling enormous pressure from baby boomers being in their peak disability years and now we're preparing for so many of them to file for retirement," Astrue said at a press conference with Casey-Kirschling.

The system also includes benefits for disabled workers. Part of that preparation is to encourage boomers to apply for benefits online at Astrue said the roughly 40 minutes it takes to apply from home is more convenient and less time-consuming than traveling to the local Social Security office.

Because Casey-Kirschling is retiring early, her monthly benefit is reduced to 75 percent of what she would have received had she waited for full retirement at age 66. The age of full retirement for Social Security is gradually rising from 65 for those born before 1938 to 67 for people born after 1959 under a 1983 law that was enacted to shore up the pension program's finances.

By Donna Smith &

The first wave of 3.2 million baby boomers turns 62 next year — 365 an hour.

About 49% of the men and 53% of the women are projected to choose early retirement and begin drawing monthly Social Security checks representing 75% of the benefit they'd be entitled to receive if they waited four more years to retire.

In 2011, they'll turn 65 and be eligible for Medicare. In 2012, those who didn't take early retirement benefits will turn 66 and qualify for their full share. "Once it starts to happen, and it's going to start in January, you're going to see millions of baby boomers starting to take it," says Casey-Kirschling, a retired seventh-grade teacher and nutrition consultant.