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Tom Margenau clears up twelve common misconceptions about Social Security in the latest edition of his column, “Social Security And You:”

Here’s a holiday gift for my readers. You’ve heard of the 12 days of Christmas, right? Well, here are 12 of the most common misconceptions about Social Security, cleared up for you in one neat little package.

And please note that these are myths involving one’s eligibility for Social Security benefits. I’ve spent many past columns clearing up the gads of historical, political and policy myths (make that outright lies) about Social Security that are circulating on the Internet.

Myth 1: Your Social Security benefit is based on your highest 10 years of earnings.

Fact: A Social Security retirement benefit is based on your average inflation-adjusted monthly income using a 35-year base of earnings.

Myth 2: If you stop working or start working part-time a few years shy of your Social Security eligibility age, your benefits will be severely reduced because you have limited or even “zero” earning years just before you claim your Social Security.

Fact: Because your benefit is based on a 35-year base of earnings, the impact of some years of reduced or even no earnings is greatly lessened. Your eventual Social Security benefit won’t be as high as it would have been had you kept working full time right up to your retirement date. But you shouldn’t lose too much sleep over the relatively minor impact of early retirement on your Social Security checks.

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