Understanding Social Security
Social Security provides a base income that your retirement savings can build upon. Take steps to maximize the amount you
get by making sure you have at least 35 years of earnings under your belt before you sign up for payments. And carefully consider
the age at which you begin to claim benefits. Payouts increase for each year of delayed claiming between ages 62 and 70.
A male veterinarian, born in 1946 can expect to live 18 years after retirement at age 66, according to Social Security Administration
projections. Men born in 1980 should plan for at least 19.3 years of retirement after the higher retirement age of 67. For
women, the average projected length of retirement jumps from 20 years for those born in 1946 to 21.2 years for those born
in 1980. And these are just the averages.
Of course, you don't have to retire at age 65 or at what the Social Security Administration defines as the full retirement
age: 66 for most Baby Boomers and 67 for younger people. Working a few extra years gives you more time to save, allows your
investments a longer time to compound, and reduces the number of retirement years your savings must finance. If you're 25
now and willing to work until age 70, you could reach $2 million by saving just $95 per week, assuming an 8 percent annual
return and not even counting the 401(k) match.
How much you need to save depends on your expenses. If you're willing to pay off your mortgage before you retire, move to
a smaller house or low-cost area and live a modest lifestyle, you may get by on less. However, if you must have an upscale
retirement you'll need to save more.
No generation has had it easy. Your parents and grandparents struggled, just as you will. But the rule still is: prior planning
prevents poor performance. This economy will make it even harder to retire, but as a famous comedian once said, "If you want
a fancy funeral, plan for a cheap wedding." Don't be like many of the Baby Boomers who have unsellable veterinary practices
and drop dead over the exam table at age 88.
Dr. Snyder, a well-known consultant, publishes Veterinary Productivity, a newsletter for practice productivity. He can be reached at 112 Harmon Cove Towers Secaucus, NJ 07094; (800) 292-7995;
; fax: (866) 908-6986.
For a complete list of articles by Dr. Snyder, visit