Why I took Social Security early

About 73% of Social Security filers last year took their benefits early, even though they would receive larger checks if they had waited until full benefits kicked in at 66. Here's why these folks thought it was the right decision.

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Elaine Armstrong, 63
Elaine Armstrong, 63
Lives in: Bradenton, Fla.

At age 62, I was laid off from my job when the small landscaping company where I worked as a bookkeeper was acquired by a Canadian conglomerate. I had $10,000 in credit card debt at the time and aside from unemployment benefits, I had no other source of income.

I live alone and, after helping my kids with their finances, I have no major savings. I had to sign up for Social Security early just to keep my head above water.

I see no jobs on the horizon for anyone, let alone someone of my age. Still, I'm looking. But I have a bad hip and a bad shoulder. It's not like I could be a cashier at Wal-Mart and stand all day!

I'm probably not going to be homeless but it's just going to be a struggle.

NEXT: Daniel Ryan, 63
Last updated August 18 2010: 11:33 AM ET
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