Category: Social Security

5 Social Security Terms You Need to Know

5 Social Security Terms You Need to Know

As you approach the exciting (but often overwhelming) milestone of retirement, the topic of Social Security comes up much more often, and it is easy to see why. Nearly nine out of ten individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits, and—as an average—these benefits comprise about 33% of the income of older Americans. As retirement age comes around the bend, you will have to make a decision that will affect these benefits for the rest of your life: when to start taking Social Security.

 

To help you reach a confident decision, you first need to understand the terms. That is why I have compiled a list of 5 terms that you are likely to hear thrown around on the news, in articles, or in conversations with friends or professional advisors. Let’s get started.

 

1.  Primary Insurance Amount (PIA)

Your PIA is your full retirement benefit based off 35 of the highest earning years of your career. So, that is why it often pays off to work a couple more years if you are making the most you’ve ever made: it could have a significant effect on your PIA!  You will receive this full retirement benefit if you wait to collect your benefits at your full retirement age (which I will discuss next).

 

2.  Full Retirement Age (FRA)

The FRA, as I previously said, is the age that you can receive your full, unreduced retirement benefit. If you take it early (for instance, at 62), your benefit will be reduced. And if you delay beyond your FRA, it will be greatly increased! This age used to be 65 for everyone, but it is gradually increasing each year. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your FRA is 66. If not, you can find out your FRA here.

 

3.  Break-even Point/ Break-even Analysis

When I am discussing when to take Social Security, I always remind people that it is a tradeoff. You can have more, smaller checks now or fewer, bigger checks later. For example, if you claim at 62 right now rather than 66, you will receive 4 more years worth of checks (48 to be exact), but those checks will be 25% smaller.

 

The break-even point then, is the age when the decision to delay starts paying off. Depending on how you think about Social Security, this can be an important

determination if you have a much lower than average life expectancy. Why? Because you may not live long enough for the bigger checks to pay off.

 

For a more concrete, thorough explanation of the break-even point, click here.

 

4.  Survivor Benefits

If someone dies, they can pass on their full benefit to their spouse (or child or parent in special cases). This benefit, called a survivor benefit, can replace the spouse’s benefit if it is higher. This is important to consider, especially for the “breadwinner” of the family. If you are main income earner, it pays even more to wait to take Social Security because your benefit can outlive you, making your personal break-even point (see above) less important.

 

5.  Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

The government realizes that inflation can reduce the buying power of your benefit. Therefore, Social Security increases your benefit every year to keep up with inflation. This is called a COLA, which—although not a carbonated beverage—is also quite refreshing. (Please forgive my lame joke.)

 

Well, there you have it! If you read through this whole post, you have familiarized yourself with some of the most confusing acronyms and terms you will likely encounter as you explore Social Security. My hope is that this will aid your understanding as you look to make one of the most important decisions of your retirement: when to take Social Security.

 

Wondering When You Should Take Social Security?

 

Read our blog entitled “When to Take Social Security—4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Decision?” This is a great primer to get you started.

 

Or, you can call our office and we can answer your questions or direct you to someone who can.  Call us at 937-492-8800.

I’m Retiring Soon: Will Social Security Be There For Me?

I’m Retiring Soon: Will Social Security Be There For Me?

Over recent years, there’s been a lot of chatter about Social Security’s financial future. And let’s just say that the discourse has been a little, well, over-the-top. Politicians have been ranting about Social Security going broke, acting like—if we don’t overhaul the system in the next 20 minutes—it’s as good as gone. Jeesh. They’re practically the doomsday preppers of retirement finances.

 

My advice to you: Don’t let their sensationalism bother you too much. This just isn’t the truth. There’s some truth in there for sure, but—for the most part—it is just causing a lot of unfounded fear.

 

To begin debunking those unfounded fears, I need to start with a quick explanation of how Social Security works.

 

How Social Security Works

Founded during the aftermath of the Great Depression, Social Security started to keep elderly people out of poverty in their retirement. It was set up as a “pay-as-you-go” program in which the workforce surrenders a portion of their income in payroll taxes to fund Social Security benefits for the current retirees. Then—when that workforce retires—the next generation of workers bears the burden to fund their benefits.  This cycle continues indefinitely, a constant influx of funding coming from the payroll taxes of the working American in order to pay for their elder’s retirement.

 

Do you see the implications? This means that Social Security can never run out of money completely. In fact, the only way this would happen is if the workforce decided that making money isn’t worth it anymore and paying taxes is optional. In other words, it’s not likely.

 

Of course, just because it can’t go broke, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be fixed in some respects.

 

The doomsday preppers aren’t completely off their rockers. Social Security isn’t perfect. Sometimes the funding from taxpayers is not enough to fulfill the promised benefits.

 

This is what is happening now. Although the government built up a surplus in a trust fund to prepare for the retirement of the baby boomer generation, the sheer number of retirees has proved too much. The trust fund is set to run out in 2034 (according to the S.S. Trustee report of 2017), leaving Social Security unable to pay the full benefit.

 

But please note, I didn’t say that it won’t be there at all. The trust fund might be going broke, but Social Security is not! By payroll taxes alone, 77% of benefits can still be delivered.

 

Now that’s still not fun. No one wants a reduced check. But this is considering that the government does nothing. They can increase the full retirement age, and they can increase payroll taxes a little bit.

 

Slowly But Surely

But whatever they do, it very likely won’t be all at once. It is not like you will get slammed out of nowhere with a 23% decrease in Social Security benefits.

 

Just take a look at how the government handled changing the full retirement age to keep Social Security solvent. Starting in 1983, congress set legislation in motion that was designed to increase the full retirement age from 65 to 67 in tiny increments. It is now 33 years later and—for the people retiring soon (like you)—the full retirement age is still only 66 and 2 months. After all that time, we are only half way there! In my opinion, it will be the same thing with any decrease in benefits or payroll tax hike.

 

The point is—for the people currently collecting Social Security and for those who are considering taking benefits soon—you’ve got very little to worry about it. Social Security may need a few tweaks, but it is not nearly as ruined as what the doomsday-ers are saying.

 

Will You Be There For Yourself?

In fact, what you should be more concerned about is where the rest of your retirement income is coming from. Social Security was never meant to cover all of the expenses of your retired life. You need extra funds, extra income to ensure that you can retire comfortably for your entire life expectancy. In other words, you have some planning to do as you approach retirement…some advisors to see, some decisions to make.

 

It seems that the question is not as much whether or nor Social Security will be there for you, but rather…will you be there for yourself?

 

Need a Certified Financial Planner to help you transition from employment to retirement? Call Seniormark at 937-492-8800 for a free consultation!

What Is My Full Retirement Age? (And Why Does It Matter to My Social Security Check)

What Is My Full Retirement Age?

(And Why Does It Matter to My Social Security Check?)

 

Laws, guidelines, tax codes, regulation, health care—pretty much everything involved with the government—is constantly evolving. And the full retirement age is no different.

 

Life expectancy has been rising. So that means that retirees are drawing on their Social Security for much longer than they used to. Couple this with shockingly high spending for other programs, and you’ve got yourself a little budget problem on your hands. Social Security has to remain solvent somehow!

 

This is why the full retirement age is creeping up. Ever since Ronald Reagan signed the 1983 Social Security Act amendments, the government has been inching its way to a full retirement age of 67, like peeling off a Band-Aid nice and slow.

 

But What’s My Full Retirement Age?

Your full retirement age depends on when you were born. The younger you are, the closer your full retirement age will be to 67. But if you’re retiring soon, your full retirement age is likely 66. Check out this chart from SSA.gov to find out for sure:

 

Why Does it Matter to My Social Security Check?

Your full retirement age is when you qualify for full Social Security benefits (not to be confused with your Medicare eligibility)[LINK TO WARNING: CONFUSING MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY ELIGIBILITY]. You can apply as early as age 62, but you will receive reduced benefits, only 75% of what you would’ve received had you waited until your full retirement age.

 

But there’s another side to this coin. You can also delay your benefits, leading to bigger benefits. For every year you delay beyond your full retirement age, you get an extra 8% tacked onto your Social Security check every month.

 

These options leave a lot up to you, and I wouldn’t take them lightly. Deciding when to start your Social Security takes a lot more than just understanding your full retirement age; it calls for a carefully planned strategy, another step along the way to a successful retirement.

 

Looking for some strategies to help you get the most out of Social Security? Click here.

CONSUMER ALERT: Seniors Should Beware of DNA Testing Scam

COLUMBUS – Ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day this Saturday, June 15, the Ohio Department of Insurance and the Ohio Department of Aging are warning Ohioans of a new scam targeting seniors. Ohio consumers should be cautious of genetic testing firms visiting senior communities or making unsolicited phone calls and mailings related to DNA screenings.

“Scam artists are always looking for new ways to steal money or personal information,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “We want people to be careful and to know the signs of a possible scam.”

 

In the scheme, which has been reported in Ohio and other states, firms reportedly collect consumers’ personal information under the pretense of DNA testing to screen them for cancer, Alzheimer’s, or other life-threatening diseases. Victims are told that Medicare will cover the cost of their testing. However, Medicare provides limited coverage for DNA testing (which is why consumers should consult their health care providers). As part of the scam, consumers often are asked for their Medicare card number and Social Security number.

 

“We want Ohioans to be aware and cautious as they consider DNA screening services,” said Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment. “Consumers should never share their personal information, including Social Security number or Medicare card number, with anyone who reaches out unexpectedly. If you think you may be a victim of fraud or if you suspect potentially fraudulent activity, please contact us.”

 

“Scammers and shady businesses target older adults to steal money, get personal information, or in this case, improperly access individuals’ insurance benefits,” added Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy. “As older adults get wiser to common scams, scammers are doing more to try to win their trust. Guard your Medicare or other insurance card like you would a credit card. To a scammer, it is just as valuable.”

 

To protect yourself, be alert if anyone conducting DNA cheek swabs requests that you agree to be billed for services in the event Medicare does not pay. These types of “testers” may be committing Medicare fraud because they are attempting to bill Medicare for a procedure that has not been ordered by a health care provider.

What Should Medicare Recipients Know About Genetic Testing?
  • In order for the testing to be covered by Medicare, it must be medically necessary.
  • Consumers should always confirm that their test has been ordered by their doctor, that it’s covered by their plan, and that it’s medically necessary.
  • If you are interested in DNA screening, talk to your doctor and determine if it is right for you.

How Can I Protect Myself from This Type of Scam?

  • If you or a loved one is approached by someone claiming to offer genetic testing, do not give your personal information (like your Medicare or Social Security information) to them.
  • Theft of Medicare card numbers may be used to commit identity theft or fraud.
  • Instead of receiving a DNA screening unsolicited from a firm not affiliated with your health care provider, talk to your doctor first and determine if the test is necessary.
  • Some consumers have reported receiving DNA testing kits in the mail without requesting them. Consumers should not use these kits but should instead talk to their doctor first.

If you suspect wrongdoing or if you believe you have been victimized, call the Ohio Department of Insurance’s Fraud and Enforcement Hotline at 800-686-1527 or the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program at 800-686-1578.

Older Ohioans and their loved ones can learn more about scams and other forms of elder abuse and exploitation, along with ways to prevent and report them, on the Ohio Department of Aging’s website (www.aging.ohio.gov/elderabuse).

 

Source:  Ohio Department of Insurance

To Delay or Not to Delay? The Social Security Break-Even Point Explained

To Delay or Not to Delay? The Social Security Break-Even Point Explained

The question of when to take Social Security has been called “the single most important retirement money decision of your life.” So it makes sense that it would be weighing on the minds of many soon-to-be retirees. Should I take it early at 62?  How about my full retirement age of 66? Or maybe 70, when my benefits are maxed out?

 

And when that question is brought to the table, what inevitably follows is a discussion of the “break-even” point, a mystical age out there in the unknown future. The problem is, sometimes the explanation is just as elusive as the number itself.

 

Most people don’t even know what the break-even point is, let alone how it affects when they should start receiving benefits! This is why I am here to clarify.

 

The Big Trade-Off

But before I go into my explanation, you need to know that the decision of when to take Social Security is always a trade-off. This is probably why it’s so hard to make! For example, if you claim at 66 (rather than 70), you receive checks for those four extra years, but your benefit is smaller. If you delay claiming benefits to 70, you forfeit those 4 years of benefits, but your monthly Social Security Check is much larger.

 

So what’s the break-even point? In short, it is the age (month and year) when delaying benefits starts to pay off. It is the point in your life when the larger checks begin to catch up (in dollar amount) with the head start you would’ve gotten had you begun at age 66.

 

But that’s a little too abstract. Let’s get concrete.

 

A Running Analogy

Imagine two track runners, all decked out in the short shorts and sports watches, hanging out at the starting line. Let’s call them Jack and Will.

 

Now Jack, he’s a really on-top-of-it type of guy, eager and prepared. He is poised at the start line, ready to go. When the gun goes off, he takes off, determined and well paced.

 

Will, on the other hand, is a little bit lazier. When the gun goes off, he waits. He takes time to stretch, yawn, maybe take a few more sips of his Gatorade. And after Jack completes 4 laps, he takes off. He’s way behind, but he’s going 32% faster than Jack.  Did I mention that Will is a world-class athlete?

 

At first, it looks like Jack is going to win hands down. But after each lap, Will gains on him.  Lap 5 and 6? Will’s chances still look bleak. 6 and 8? Still no chance. But by the time Will completes his 11th and 12th lap, victory is within his grasp. Will grits his teeth. Closer. Closer. He’s breathing down his neck!

 

And then, with a burst of adrenaline and determination, Will finally surpasses Jack in lap 13.

 

The break-even point. The brief moment Jack and Will were side by side is the break-even point.

 

Now let’s bring it back to Social Security.

 

Claiming earlier (let’s say at 66) is being like Jack. When the gun of full retirement age sounds, you take off. But your check is smaller. You’re making money at a slower pace.

 

Now claiming later, that is just like Will. You take off 4 laps too late, but your check is larger. You’re making money 32% faster (8% for every year past full retirement age).

 

Eventually the monetary benefits of claiming late will surpass the benefits of claiming early.

 

But that doesn’t mean that claiming later is always the better bet.

 

For instance, what if you pass away before you reach your break-even point? Or, keeping with the running metaphor, what if Jack and Will’s race was only 9-laps? In that case, Will wouldn’t have had enough time to catch up.

 

This is why Social Security advisors consider your life expectancy. If your life expectancy is beyond your break-even point, it may be a good idea to delay. But if not, it may not be.

 

However, the biggest point about the break-even point is this: It is not the sole determinant in the “to delay or not delay” question. Marital status, availability of resources and many other considerations greatly affect the decision. The truth is that a lot of factors come into play when running the race of Social Security planning. What you really need is a trusted advisor who can coach you through “the single most important retirement money decision of your life”.

 

Need a Certified Financial Planner to help you make the right decisions about Social Security? Call Seniormark at 937-492-8800 for a free consultation.

 

Read This Before You Take Social Security Early

Read This Before You Take Social Security Early

Social Security is a bit like the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, the one where they place elementary-aged kids in solitude with a tantalizing marshmallow on a plate in front of them. “If you wait until I come back, I will give you another marshmallow,” the researcher tells them, “but if you eat any before I come back, even just a nibble, you will just have the one.” As you can imagine, the kids fidget in their chair after the researcher exits the room, their short legs dangling and their eyes flitting to the door to the marshmallow, to the door and back to the marshmallow.

 

Not surprisingly, many of these kids, despite the promise of a bonus pillow of sugar, decide to eat their marshmallow early. After the researcher comes back into the room to see an empty plate, they end up kicking themselves.

 

Psychological implications aside, the moral of the story is clear: it pays to wait, even though many don’t!

 

This is why it is not surprising that a similar (although admittedly much more convoluted and less adorable) thing is happening with what has been called “the single most important retirement money of your life”: when to start taking your Social Security benefit.

 

You see, although it pays to wait until full retirement age (66 in2019) or beyond to start taking Social Security, many retirees are still claiming early (at 62).

 

Let’s take a closer look.

 

It Pays To Wait!

How much exactly?

 

Well, that depends on which year you were born. For those born between 1943-1954, the difference between taking Social Security at 62 and waiting until your full retirement age at 66 is a 25% reduction.

 

If you take your check at 62, you only get 75% of your full check. But if you wait until 63, you gain an extra 5%. Then, during the next three years, you gain an extra 6 and two-thirds percent each year, getting you to 100% of your benefit by the current full retirement age of 66.

 

After that, things really start to ramp up.  If you possess the will power and resources to delay beyond the full retirement page, you tack an extra 8% on to your check each year until age 70!

 

Now, I’m going to put that into perspective.  Let’s say you have a full retirement benefit of $2000 per month. Taking it at 62 will reduce your benefit to $1500. Waiting until 70 will amp up your benefit to $2,640. If you do the math, that means that it pays an extra $1,140 per month just to wait and max out. And the best part is that this is a guaranteed income for the rest of your life!

 

To check the percentages for other birth years, check out this chart from ssa.gov:

 

But despite the favorable math associated with gritting one’s teeth to wait it out…

 

Many Retirees Choose to Take It Early!

In fact, according to Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research a whopping 48% of women and 42% of men choose to take it as soon as possible at 62!

 

And how many max out their benefits at 70? Less than 1 in 20 for both men and women.

 

The reasons for this are as individual as you or I.  Part of it may be that retirees simply do not have the funds to make ends meet while they defer their Social Security benefits, although this is less likely than originally thought. Yet others may have a bleak life expectancy in which the larger checks will not have much effect. These are usually valid reasons to wait.

 

However, going back to those kids with the marshmallows, perhaps people find that it is just easier and more satisfying to take it now rather than later. After all, it is not only kids who have trouble delaying gratification.

 

And the last I’ve checked, even 75% of your monthly benefit can buy a quite a few bags of marshmallows.

 

Do You Need Help Deciding When to Take Social Security?

Well, you are in luck.  We happen to know a thing or two about this subject.  Give our office a call and we can sit down with you and help you make some decisions about your social security timing.  Our office number is 937-492-8800.

 

5 Strategies to Get the Most Benefits Out of Your Social Security

5 Strategies to Get the Most Benefits Out of Your Social Security

It’s human nature to want to get the most out of everything. That’s why “stretching your dollar” appeals work so well.  It’s also why people spend 15 minutes scrounging that last bit of toothpaste from the tube (you know you’ve done it).

 

As you are approaching retirement, you’ll want to do the same thing with your Social Security.

 

Of course, there are a lot of strategies to consider, and this list definitely won’t be exhaustive (unless you want a Encyclopedia Britannica-length blog post). But if you have just started thinking about Social Security and how you’re going to squeeze those last few dollar signs out of the tube…this is a good place start.

 

Boost Benefits While Your Income Has Peaked

Social Security bases your benefits on your income over 35 years. They pick your highest income years and do some mind-bending, brain-busting, soul-sucking math equations and bam! Out pops your PIA, which is your monthly Social Security Check. Here’s the moral of the story: higher average earnings over 35 years= higher PIA= more money in your Social Security check every month.

 

I take it you are earning more now than you did when you were 30? So what would happen if you would work a few extra years, making your peak income? Those lower income years (when you were just scraping by) could drop out of the equation, leading to a better Social Security check. According to Elaine Floyd, a Certified Financial Planner from Savvy Social Security Planning, waiting to retire until 70 as opposed to 62 will you earn you an extra $31,000 in increased Social Security benefits. It’s not a lot, but taken along with an extra eight years of fat income, it might very well be worth the extra work. Or—as Floyd put it—the extra $31,000 is like “icing on the cake.”

 

Maximize Your Money By Delaying Benefits

Good things come to those who wait. Delaying benefits until 70, 67, or even 65 can be difficult. It will take a strong financial situation, strong health, and a strong will. But your patience will be worth it in the end.

 

In fact, your benefit payment goes up by 8% for every year after full retirement age that you delay. That’s a lot of cash. So unless you can’t afford to wait or you have a low life expectancy, I recommend waiting.

 

Take Advantage of Spousal Benefits

Spousal benefits are 50% of the other spouse’s PIA (monthly Social Security check). For couples where one spouse is obviously the “breadwinner” of the two, this is especially beneficial to know. Because—a lot of times—half of the higher income earner’s Social Security check is way more than the full amount of the lower income earning spouse. And you can’t take both. But keep in mind, in order to claim spousal benefits, you have to have been legally married for at least one year and be at least 62. It’s also important to note that both the husband and wife cannot claim spousal benefits at the same time, and—it almost goes without saying—they stop when you are no longer married.

 

Collect Benefits From a Divorced Spouse

You may never want to see them again, but you may want to see their money. Don’t worry…this isn’t stealing! It won’t affect their benefits at all. It works exactly like spousal benefits. You get 50% of what your ex-wife or husband gets in their Social Security check. The only key here is that you have to have been married for 10 years and not be remarried.

 

Collect Survivor Benefits

If your spouse has passed on, you can collect his or her benefits on their behalf. You will have to forfeit your own check, but a lot of times your husband or wife’s check is better anyways.

So there you have it—5 ways to maximize your social security. But it is important to realize: Social Security (like all things involved with the government) is very complicated. It takes a person with a lot of expertise to help you get the most out of your social security, just like it takes a person with a lot of muscle to work out that last bit of toothpaste.

Wondering when you should start Social Security benefits? Have Social Security questions that need answered? Discover more about our free Social Security workshop designed to help you answer your most pressing questions.

When Should I Take Social Security? — 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Decision

When Should I Take Social Security? — 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Decision

Wow. That is a whopper of a question. And with social security getting a lot more media coverage lately, it is a question on the forefront of many minds just like yours. Most experts will answer with a resounding “wait!” “Wait until your full retirement age!” Or even “Wait until you are 70!”

 

And I am inclined to agree with them on many accounts, but this only tells a little bit of the story.

 

The truth is that no one can offer you a definite yes or no, now or later, 62 or 70 answer. It depends on a great number of factors:  your personal goals, convictions, health, and financial situation. This is why—instead of trying (and failing) to answer the question for you myself—I am going to offer you some guidepost questions for you to ask yourself. If answered thoroughly, the questions will lead you down a path to a good decision.

 

1.  Will I Continue Working Full Time?

The first question you should ask yourself is whether or not you are going to continue employment.  Because if you retire prior to your full retirement age, income matters when it comes to Social Security benefits. If you make it over the $16,920 a year earnings-test amount, Social Security begins reducing your benefit check. Having a higher income over your lifetime actually helps your benefits, but while you are receiving them—not so much.  In fact, for every $2 over the earnings-test amount, $1 will be deducted from your benefits checks for the year.

 

Allow me to put this into perspective. This means that a $2000 a month check ($24,000 a year) can vanish very quickly. Let’s put it this way: a person making $64,920 a year (48,000 over the earnings-test amount) will have all of their benefits reduced to zero. It would be like they never signed up at all!

 

Part time work to keep you busy won’t usually reach the earnings-test amount, but—in almost every other case—I strongly recommend waiting.

 

2.  What Resources Do I Have?

If you decide that you have had enough of your stressful job and decide to retire, you will no longer have a steady source of income. This is where drawing Social Security earlier can come in handy.

 

But there are exceptions. For example, If you have a strong enough financial situation, you can get by without your social security check and maximize your benefits no problem.

 

So check your storehouses. Do you have a sufficient nest egg? A retirement plan like a 401(k) or IRA? Investments? Pension income? In other words, do you have something to live off of while you let your Social Security benefits accrue? If not, then you need to take social security. But if you do, it might be a good idea to delay.

 

3.  What’s My Life Expectancy?

It’s also important to remember that waiting to collect Social Security benefits is still a trade off. If you collect at age 66, for example, you will get more checks in the mail than if you wait until 70 (48 to be exact). But if you wait until 70, you will receive checks that are 32% bigger. The decision you are really trying to make is this: Do I want more, smaller checks now or fewer, larger checks later?

 

This is where life expectancy swoops in to help. If you live a long life, larger checks later is usually the better bet because you will likely reach your break-even point, the age when the larger check begins to benefit you. (For an in-the ballpark figure, the break even point for many people is 10-12 years after their full retirement age.) But if you don’t, taking more, smaller checks now is the right approach. You may not have time to wait.  In that case, reap the benefits now.

 

In order to determine life expectancy, you can consider your current health status and your family’s history with longevity, but this would be a shot-in-the-dark speculation.

 

Instead, I recommend using a highly customized life expectancy calculator like livingto100.com. It takes into account everything from exercise habits, family history, all the way to how you barbecue your meats (not sure how this affects life expectancy) to create a truly personalized calculation. Of course, this is still speculation, but at least it is speculation based on carefully- researched scientific data. Not as much a shot in the dark.

 

4.  Am I Married?

If you’ve been married for more than a couple weeks, you know that marriage changes everything. From finances to weekend plans to what you’re going to make for dinner, you’ve got someone else to think about.

 

Marriage also affects Social Security. For instance, you might have poor health and a bleak life expectancy. In this case, it might make sense for you to take out Social Security early. But what about your spouse? When you pass away, your spouse receives your full Social Security benefit. If he or she lives long, it may still be beneficial to delay.

 

And this is just one of quite a few examples.

 

A Final Thought

I would like to emphasize this point one more time: the question of when to take Social Security is not one-size-fits-all. It’s not strategic to delay benefits if you don’t have the means to do so. But the “I might die tomorrow anyhow, so I might as well take it now” approach is not the best either. In order to get to the right answer, you first have to ask the right questions.  So analyze your situation, learn all you can, and—at the end of the day—sit down with an expert you trust to put it all together.

 

Need some help making decisions about Social Security? We are offering a workshop on Social Security planning on September 7 in our Sidney office.  You can sign up by clicking here:  Social Security planning workshop or by calling our office at 937-492-8800.  As always, if you have any questions, feel free to call our office any time.

New Workshops Announcement

We are expanding our workshop offerings! Beginning in August, we will still be offering our Welcome to Medicare workshop, but we are adding in a Social Security Planning workshop, along with a 401(k) planning workshop. Our new series is titled “Life After Work” and will help people ages 62 and up start planning for retirement, as well as introduce them to the world of Medicare.

Visit our workshops page at www.seniormark.com/workshops to sign up for one or all of our workshops!

We look forward to seeing you there!

One Priceless Secret to Help You Find a Trustworthy Retirement Advisor

One Priceless Secret to Help You Find a Trustworthy Retirement Advisor

You can’t choose retirement help based on an agent’s smile or friendliness or wrinkleless pants. And contrary to popular belief, the handshake shouldn’t make or break your decision either. The truth is, even if he or she is a nice guy or gal, that doesn’t make the person any more trustworthy.

 

Not that those things don’t matter at all. I hope the person you work with during this crucial transition isn’t a jerk. All I am asking is for you to consider this as well: Is he a captive or an independent agent? Because knowing the difference…well…it can make a world of difference.

 

Tied Hands

A captive agent works for one company. Their job is to sell that one company’s products. They can’t lead you to the best-valued plan for your unique needs because they are limited to the insurance plans that their company offers.

 

Here’s something you’ll never hear a car salesman say: “Yeah, you know what you need, sir? You need to go visit the dealer down the street. He’s got exactly what you are looking for…and at half the price! Here, let me get the directions for you.”

 

It’s the same thing with captive agents. Even if there’s a better deal with another company, they’re not going to tell you that! Just like a car salesman, they have to sell what’s on the lot if they want to make a commission. In other words, their hands are tied. And when their hands are tied behind their back, it’s a bit more tempting for them to cross their fingers.

 

Hands Free Help

On the other hand (I promise I didn’t try that), independent agents are on their own. Since they don’t work for any one specific company, they can instead work for you, shopping plans from all the companies they represent. By analyzing your situation, they can find the one health care plan that is best suited to you. Or—if there are several—they can talk to you honestly about the advantages and disadvantages of your different options. It’s that simple!

 

And that’s why the captive vs. independent agent dichotomy is so vital when you are deciding who to work with. Because—when compared side by side—the independent advisor is the obvious choice…

 

Hands down. (I’m deeply sorry…I had to.)

 

Are you interested in working with an independent advisor with a passion for helping retirees? Then call Seniormark at 937-492-8800 to set up a free consultation.

 

 

Photo:  https://www.mogicons.com/en/stickers/emoticons/secret-emoticon-265/