Retirement Benefits

Advice from the Social Security Administration

Most people assume that the Social Security Administration is there to give you advise when you are submitting an application for benefits. Not particularly true. Almost 70% of all applicants do NOT have the ability to maximize their benefits when speaking to a Social Security Administration Agent.

One of the largest areas of confusion at the Social Security offices is the filing of restricted applications. A restricted application means the person is not applying for the highest benefits he may be eligible for at the time. For instance, a person could apply for survivor benefits based on a late spouse’s earnings record while he lets his own benefits grow each year until age 70. He would then switch to his own higher benefits at age 70.

Problems arise because the Social Security agents do not have the right tools and are not properly prepared to give the right information to the tsunami of baby boomers coming to them.

More than a year after Congress approved changes to Social Security claiming rules as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, agency representatives continue to deny legitimate claims for spousal benefits by applicants who are clearly grandfathered under prior rules and tell other applicants they can take advantage of claiming rules that no longer exist.

The government agency marks its 79th year with close to 12,000 field offices staffed by helpful and knowledgeable people, but the administration prohibits their employees from engaging in Social Security claiming advice of any kind. Agents are therefore trained in the Social Security rules, but not in claiming strategies.

Additionally, for legal reasons, agents are required to enter your clients’ information into their records on the date they inquire about Social Security benefits, even if they are not planning to begin receiving benefits until a later date. Any calculations performed are based on that date, and facilitates a bias that too often results with clients claiming early.

And let’s not forget the outcry in response to recent cutback in SSA services.

Do NOT take any advise from the Social Security Administration as the Golden Rule! Get a second, third, and even fourth opinion before you file that claim. This is what WE DO at Social Security Benefit Planners. We get the facts and do our best to maximize your benefits. After all, it’s your money!!!

Top 7 Reasons that you should NOT have a plan to maximize your Social Security Retirement Income

  1. Even though your dreams were to always travel the world you didn’t save enough and love to watch “Rick Steve’s Europe” and “An Idiot Abroad” instead. It still feels like you are there, right?
  2. Living in a 600-square foot rental apartment in retirement with no spectacular view was in the future plans.   
  3. Or even better was your life long goal to move into the in-law suite on your kid’s property-  now this could be extra fun!
  4. Being able to order anything off the dollar menu at any fast food restaurant always rocks – YUM.
  5. Not having the option to NOT work well after you wanted to retire. Hi Ho, Hi Ho off to work we go.
  6. Your 1982 Dodge Colt isn’t pretty but still gets you from A to B.. just not C.
  7. Delaying, reducing the dosage or not purchasing all your needed prescriptions because of the high cost. Who needs their health anyway!

Of course we want people to travel, have decent housing and food, the option to retire when they want and being able to take care of their health.

Did you know that almost 50% of Americans opt to take Social Security as early as they can and therefore lock themselves in up to a 30% permanent reduction in Social Security retirement income? We have helped many individuals and families see how they can increase their annual income anywhere from 3k to 30k per year.

Now that is some real Clams, Cheddar or Dough back in your pocket.

You paid into this over your whole career why not make the most of this valuable insurance program!

To get our free e-book go to www.socialsecuritybp.com or sign up to get your own customized plan to get your extra Clams today!  

Not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Social Security Is More than Just a Retirement Plan

How to Retire on Social Security?

Social Security Isn’t Just for Retirement

When you think of Social Security, you probably think about retirement. It’s true that the program provides critical income for millions of retired Americans, but Social Security also does much more.

Designed as a safety net to provide older people who could no longer work with a basic income, Social Security has grown into a much broader safety net over the years, offering financial benefits to protect not only retirees, but also disabled workers and the families that have lost a family member.

Just a few years after the program began, it was expanded to provide benefits for the spouse and any minor children of a deceased worker. Starting in 1939, survivors could receive financial support from Social Security if the family’s breadwinner died. This makes it function as the largest life insurance program in the country, although it’s not generally considered to be one.

Would you think of the payroll deductions you contribute to Social Security as disability insurance premiums? Probably not, but in 1954, Social Security also began making payments to disabled workers and their dependent spouses and/or children. Trying to purchase the same kind of disability protection that Social Security offers can be prohibitively expensive, or even impossible for some workers. With Social Security, everyone who has worked enough to buy into the program is covered. Typically, you need to show that you have earned over the minimum amount to vest currently $5,200 per year five out of the last ten years.

Retirement benefits are an important and well-known part of Social Security, but don’t mistakenly believe that’s the only thing it does. Social Security protects working Americans and those who depend on them in many different and equally valuable ways.

There are over 2,700 regulations that oversee Social Security which affect life, disability and retirement benefits. Please check out our website www.socialsecuritybp.com to learn more or to sign up for a customized plan.  

Not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Redo for Social Security Retirement Benefits

Did you sign up early to start receiving Social Security benefits? If you’ve only recently begun to take benefits, you can still change your mind. For the first twelve months that you’re receiving Social Security income, you have the option to reset this to a later date and increase your payments.

During the initial year, you can halt your monthly payments and delay benefits to get further increases with age 70 being the maxed benefit. This flexibility comes at a cost though; you’ll have to pay back any amount you have already received. For some people, doing so is worth it, if you took benefits at age 62 this is up to a 30% reduction in benefits for the rest of your life. Each year you delay between ages 62 and 70 gives you a nice increase. If you’re the breadwinner in your family ideally you should wait as long as possible as a survivor spouse only gets the higher of the two.  

It isn’t just the currently calculated benefits that will be affected, either. Since Social Security cost of living increases (COLA) are figured as a percentage of your current benefits, delaying until full retirement age or longer means that each year you receive benefits you’ll have a higher amount from which to calculate annual COLA increases.

Unless you really need Social Security income as soon as you are eligible, it’s usually best to wait until your full retirement age or when it maxes out at age 70. One of our Social Security retirement advisors can help you find the best time to take benefits, or help you halt benefits now to increase your retirement income later. www.socialsecuritybp.com to read more, info@socialsecuritybp.com or call 877-270-SSBP (7727)

Not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Social Security & Your Full Retirement Age: Are you leaving retirement money on the table?

The Social Security term “full retirement age” or FRA is unfamiliar to many people, but it shouldn’t be. Your birth year is one of two factors in determining your Social Security retirement income. Your full retirement age (FRA) is the point at which you can begin taking Social Security retirement benefits at the full amount based on your individual work history. The second factor is how much you paid into the Social Security insurance program which is shown as a FICA deduction. If you have not pulled your statement recently you can go to www.ssa.gov to review your personal history.

Although you can elect to take benefits as early as age 62, that’s rarely a good idea. Taking benefits before your FRA will cost you big-time – as much as 30% of your monthly benefits! So, what is your full retirement age? That depends on when you were born. Congress has gradually raised the FRA, meaning that it is different for different birth cohorts. There are some nice increases in your Social Security retirement checks by delaying your start date with age 70 being when your benefits max out.

For those born in 1954 or earlier, the FRA is 66 years. You can start collecting full benefits as soon as your 66th birthday. Those born later will have to wait a bit longer before taking retirement benefits to receive the full amount:

Birth Year                                                                                     Full Retirement Age
1943-1954                                                                                   66
1955                                                                                            66 years and 2 months
1956                                                                                            66 years and 4 months
1957                                                                                            66 years and 6 months
1958                                                                                            66 years and 8 months
1959                                                                                            66 years and 10 months
1960 or later                                                                                67 years

Almost 50% of American’s elect to take Social Security at age 62! Don’t risk losing almost a third of valuable retirement income but not understanding the true cost of taking this early.

Sign up today to have one of our Social Security retirement advisors www.socialsecuritybp.com help you understand when is the best time to start taking benefits.

Not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Social Security Myth #7: Is Retirement Income Taxable?

MYTH: Your benefits are not taxable in retirement.

Surprise! If you continue to have earned income in retirement while receiving Social Security, then part of your Social Security income can be included in your taxable income. That’s not to say that everyone pays taxes on Social Security
benefits or that the full amount is taxable, but it’s important to know that some of your benefits may be taxed. About half of all beneficiaries paid federal tax on Social Security in 2015.

To figure out whether your benefits are taxable or not, you’ll need to understand the IRS’ definition of “combined income.” This means your adjusted gross income plus any nontaxable income you receive, added to one half of your Social Security benefits. The total of these three numbers will determine whether your benefits are taxed, and how much.

If you are single and have a combined income of  $25k to $34k you’ll owe taxes on up to 50% of your Social Security benefit. Couples that earn between $32K and $44K a year and file jointly will owe the same rate if their combined income is between $32k and $44k.

For single filers with combined incomes over $34k and married filers whose combined income exceeds $44k, the portion of benefits that may be taxable is 85%. That’s assuming the married couple files taxes jointly. Filing a separate return makes it far more likely that your benefits will be taxable.

You may also pay state taxes on part of your benefits if you live in Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia; these states mirror the federal tax schedule. The following nine states may also tax a portion of Social Security but provide exemptions based on income and age: Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The remaining 37 states not listed above do not tax Social Security.

Not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Are You Part of the Sandwich Generation?

Many Americans today are part of what is known as the sandwich generation. No, that doesn’t mean covered in peanut butter or surrounded by lettuce and tomatoes. It refers to being economically sandwiched by two other generations, one older and one younger, that rely on you for financial support.

Providing emotional support for parents and children is part and parcel of being human. It’s both demanding and rewarding, but also creates some fear for the future. Providing financial support for these loved ones while taking care of yourself and your own future, however, can be tough. For many, it seems like an inescapable burden, and fulfilling it can leave you unable to provide sufficient resources to meet your own needs.

If you’re still funding your adult kids’ lifestyles and struggling to take good care of your parents’ financial needs at the same time, you might want to consider whether it’s the best strategy. Despite the desire to provide everything you can for your family, this financial sandwich can leave you in a bad situation a few years down the road.

  • Your kids have their whole life to pay back college and other debts. It feels good to provide your children with a debt-free college education and help with a car, house or other steps toward the good life. But can you afford it? Ignoring your financial future so you can give them the best start isn’t in anyone’s best interest. If you can’t support yourself in retirement, they’ll feel duty-bound to help. It’s often better to let them take out loans to accomplish their goals, while you save for your retirement years. That leaves you better prepared to take care of your own future needs while helping them realize the true costs of their choices and value them appropriately.
  • Learn from your parents and save more toward retirement. The financial sandwich you’re in now should illustrate the importance of saving for retirement. It’s more expensive than most people expect, between rising healthcare costs, inflation and longer lifespans. You’re seeing that first-hand with your parents; learn the lessons that their predicament illustrates and get serious about saving now, so you won’t be in the same one later.
  • You cannot take out loans for retirement. While it’s relatively easy to get a loan for a college education, house or car, just try asking for one to pay for retirement expenses. Lenders will laugh at you! Once you’re past working age, it’s virtually impossible to get a loan unless you can prove you have the resources to pay it back. That’s not a situation that inspires confidence for older Americans who need extra income just to get by, so let the kids get a loan now. It’s far easier to obtain and pay back than the one you’ll need if you don’t save enough for your retirement.

What’s the takeaway? Giving your retirement savings short shrift so you can keep paying for the generational sandwich isn’t wise. If you don’t have enough saved, it’s helpful to do what you can to maximize your Social Security income. But in the big picture, it’s probably more important to save for your own retirement than to fully fund your children’s college and post-college years.

Not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.