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"So you say it's your birthday"

| August 29, 2017
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“So You Say it’s Your Birthday”

In 1968 the Beatles released their White album, which included the song “Birthday.” I’m sure you’ve sung it a time or two. My birthday is at the end of August. By all accounts, I was ushered into the world with a smack on the rear, in a cold room with bright lights and a bunch of masked strangers who appeared to be giants, from my perspective. What an introduction to life, right?

I am not a fan of birthday celebrations. I am not sure if I am celebrating making it through one more year or being one year closer to answering the ultimate question.

Supposedly, this year I will be having what we call a “significant” birthday. Let us say over 50. Who decides which ones are significant?

I was excited at 16 because, after much anticipation, I could legally drive. I understand many young people these days are not in a hurry to drive. They have other options.

(“Thanks for the ride, Mom/Uber/Lyft.”)

I also understand 18. You can vote without studying or grasping the issues. You can go out on your own, sign contracts, and join the military. I hear moving or enlisting are not desirable features of turning 18 lately. I think modern families celebrate the independence of their children at age 26 or later.

(“Get out of my basement now, and take that Xbox with you!”)

Celebrating being 21 is easy to understand, too. You can drink adult beverages, legally.

(“Jose Cuervo, you are a friend of mine!”)

After that, I get a little lost. Age 30 seems to be significant along with 40 and 50, but I do not know why. Is it just a round number thing? Do we celebrate 60 or wait to 65? I wonder.

Have you ever wondered why birthday cakes have candles? What is that about? Are burning, melting sticks of wax a metaphor for the transience of life or just an excuse to spread germs to your friends who find it acceptable to sing an inane often disparaging ditty with your name inserted in the middle?

(They blamed the spread of the Black Plague on rats. Hmmm….)

When do you go from the number of candles matching your years on earth to just one candle? Is it limited by the Fire Marshall and smoke alarm sensitivity or is it a function of the number of candles that physically can be lit before the first one burns out?

(As a kid watching vampire movies with hundreds of burning candles in dark crypts, I couldn’t help but wonder who lit all of those candles.)

The significant birthdays mentioned above leave out some “Federally” significant ages that affect all of us. The below list is not all-inclusive but covers most of the important ages.

  1. AGE 62 – First age to take Social Security payments.
    1. There is a significant reduction in benefits when compared with Full Retirement Age (FRA).
  2. AGE 65 – Sign up for Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D.
    1. Conditions, exceptions, and a myriad of confusing directions await.
  3. AGE 66 to 67 – Social Security FRA.
    1. Ironically, it depends on your birth year.
    2. The age you may receive full benefits.
    3. Wait until 70 and get the maximum.
  4. AGE 70.5 – A significant birthday not normally celebrated by us but is celebrated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security, and the federal government in general.
    1. The magic age when you must start taking money out of your retirement accounts and pay more taxes!
  5. Not exactly 70.5. Almost! If you are the owner of a traditional IRA, you must generally start receiving distributions from your IRA by April 1 of the year following the year in which you reach age 70½. April 1 of the year following the year in which you reach age 70½ is referred to as the required beginning date.” (IRS Publication 590 B 2016)

Of course, the above is only a brief treatment of “Federally Significant” birthdays. Please give us a call if you have any questions or we can help in any way. However, we cannot turn back time. Once you are over 30, you are always over 30, no matter how many times you celebrate 29!

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