It is one of the most striking fallouts from the bad economy: Social Security is facing its first-ever shortfall this year as a wave of people like Skidmore opt to collect payments before their full retirement age. Adding to the strain on the trust are reduced tax collections sapped by the country's historic unemployment — still at 9.5 percent.
More people filed for Social Security in 2009 — 2.74 million — than any year in history, and there was a marked increase in the number receiving reduced benefits because they filed ahead of their full retirement age. The increase came as the full Social Security retirement age rose last year from 65 to 66.
The trend of people going on early Social Security retirement at age 62 is likely throwing a wrench in the projections of the Social Security Fund actuaries and adding further stress to a system that is already expected to have trouble paying retirement benefits for a tidal wave of Baby Boomers leaving the workforce at the customary age of 66. I imagine someone is already planning a second Woodstock in the summer of 2014 for Boomers forced to take early retirement in what could end up as the lost economic decade.