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Tom Margenau explains why January is often the best month to file for Social Security in the latest edition of his column, “Social Security And You:”

I write a column similar to this one every January. But I don’t mind plagiarizing myself because it contains a very important message for people planning to retire in 2012.

January is a critical month for the hundreds of thousands of potential Social Security beneficiaries who are reaching their so-called full retirement age in 2012. The important message: All of them should at least consider the possibility of filing for their benefits this month, even though they may not be reaching their retirement age until later in the year.

The reason for this early-filing timeframe has to do with some quirky and complicated features of Social Security’s earnings penalty provisions. Those provisions generally keep seniors who are still working off of Social Security’s rolls until they reach that magic “full retirement age.” For most people reading this column, your full retirement age is probably 66. (Check out SocialSecurity.gov for a chart listing the various full retirement ages.)

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