Social Security Benefits

When will I receive my first Social Security check?

This is a common question we get when we do a full Social Security Benefit session. “When will I receive my first check”. It’s important to understand that As of March 1, 2013, the Social Security Administration stopped mailing paper checks. There are two ways you can receive your benefits:

1. Direct deposit of your Social Security checks. This option puts them right into your bank account on the day they are paid.

You don’t have to worry about your check being lost or worry that funds will not get to the bank in time if you are out of town. Sign up or learn more at Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Direct Deposit.

2. Direct Express® Debit Card – If you do not sign up for direct deposit, your benefits will be paid to you via Direct Express® debit card option. This card will work anywhere that takes Debit Mastercard®. You can also use your Direct Express® debit card to get cash back at the grocery store or to purchase money orders at the post office.

Social Security checks are deposited on the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of each month, depending on your day of birth. The Social Security check schedule works as follows:

If you were born on the:

1st–10th of the month: Expect your Social Security check to be deposited on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

11th–20th of the month: Expect your Social Security check to be deposited on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

21st–31st of the month: Expect your Social Security check to be deposited on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

Exceptions to When Social Security Checks Arrive

For every rule, there are always exceptions. If you fall into one of the categories below, your check may arrive on an alternate schedule.

You started receiving benefits before 1997: Your Social Security check is paid on the third day of the month. You can request to change this according to the day of birth schedule above.

You are receiving both Social Security benefits and SSI payments: Expect your Social Security check to be deposited on the third day of the month.

Holiday exceptions: If the day your Social Security check is supposed to be deposited is a holiday, your check will be deposited the previous day.

If you have questions on how to Maximize your Social Security Benefits, contact us today. This is what we do! Helping thousands of people that look for ways to maximize their retirement and live a better life.

Can I count on Social Security when I retire?

When I have the opportunity to meet with people or speaking at a event, probably the most popular question I get is: “Can I count on Social Security to be there when I retire”? Of course the majority of that question comes to me where peoples ages range from 40-55. The young people I talk to assume social security will NOT be there. That’s a shame.

The latest Social Security Trustees Report projects that the Social Security trust fund will run out of money in just 18 years, or 2033. But even if that forecast proves accurate, it doesn’t mean payments will stop. The payroll taxes that Social Security collects from workers and employers will still be able to fund 77% of scheduled benefits.

So the real issue is whether benefits will be cut, not eliminated.
In my opinion, I would be very surprised if people in their mid-50s or older see their benefits scaled back. That said, even if their payments aren’t reduced, they could be trimmed in other ways, such as making more of their Social Security income taxable.

I think for the younger generation, Social Security maybe changed, but never deleted. I say to young people that it’s always better to plan ahead of time so your NOT so dependent on social security for retirement.

When Should I Take My Social Security?

As a Social Security Benefits Planner, we get this question all the time. In fact, it’s probably the most asked question. So it’s important to realize that the decision of when to retire is separate from the decision of when to claim Social Security benefits. For example, depending on circumstances, you might find that it makes sense to retire at a given age, yet hold off on claiming Social Security until a later date — maybe even several years later.

By waiting until age 70 rather than claiming as early as possible at age 62, you can increase your monthly benefit amount by roughly three-quarters. Of course, by waiting, you decrease the number of months in which you’ll be receiving a Social Security check.

So how can you tell if the trade-off is worth it? One way to compare two possible ages for claiming benefits is to compute the age to which you would have to live for one strategy to become superior to the other strategy. Another way to analyze the decision is to compare the payout you get from delaying Social Security to the level of income you can safely get from other retirement income sources.

According to the Social Security Administration, the average total life expectancy for a 62-year-old female is 84.8. For a male, it’s 82. In other words, from a breakeven perspective, most unmarried retirees will be best served by waiting to take their retirement benefit.

This is why it’s always a good idea to have other sources of retirement income. In other words, for each dollar of Social Security you give up now (by delaying benefits), you can expect to receive a greater level of income in the future than you could safely take from a dollar invested in a typical stock/bond portfolio.

A similar analysis can be performed for each year up to age 70, and the conclusion is the same: Delaying Social Security benefits can be an excellent way to increase the amount of income you can safely take from your portfolio.

Of course, there are circumstances in which it would not make sense for an unmarried person to delay taking Social Security.

First and most obviously, if your finances are such that you absolutely need the income right now, then you have little choice in the matter.

Second, if you have reason to think that your life expectancy is well below average, it may be advantageous to claim benefits early. For example, if you have a medical condition such that you don’t expect to make it past age 64, it would obviously not make a great deal of sense to choose to wait until age 70 to claim benefits.

In Summary:

For unmarried retirees, from a breakeven perspective, you’ll be best served by waiting until age 70 to claim benefits if you expect to live past age 80.5. (And, for reference, the average total life expectancy for a 62-year-old female is 84.8. For a male, it’s 82.)

For unmarried retirees, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, the lifetime income you gain from delaying Social Security is generally greater than the level of income you can safely get from other sources. As a result, delaying Social Security can be a great way to increase the amount you can safely spend per year. (Or, said differently, it can be a great way to reduce the likelihood that you will outlive your money.)

The shorter your life expectancy and the greater the available yield on inflation-protected bonds, the less desirable it is to delay claiming Social Security benefits.

Still confused about what is right for you? Get our FREE E-Book on Social Security Basics and start getting your questions answered. Faye Sykes is a National Speaker on Social Security and understands how to maximize your Benefits.


Social Security Benefits Frequently Asked Questions

According to the United States Government, over 59 million individuals will receive approximately $863 billion in Social Security benefits this year. With numbers like that, chances are good that you or someone you know may be eligible for benefits soon.  Social Security Benefit Planners answer some of the more common questions people ask about Social Security.

Do I qualify for Social Security retirement benefits?

Depending on your date of birth, the normal age of retirement (a government term related to the age in which benefits can kick in) is 65-67.  Take our quiz and find out exactly how much you understand about your own Social Security Benefits. You can apply for benefits if you are at least 61 years and 9 months old, or as late as age 70.

How do I apply for Social Security benefits?

You can apply for Social Security benefits either online, or in person at the Social Security office if there is one in your city. Click on our Interactive Map and find out how we can help in YOUR State

The Social Security Administration recommends starting the application process at least four months in advance of your planned retirement, and you will need information such as your birth certificate, Social Security card, and other government-issued documents. This list published by the Social Security Administration gives the full list of documents that may be needed for your application.

When is the best time to apply?

Every individual’s needs are different, but factors that may impact your decision to collect retirement can include your health, your financial needs, your other sources of income, and your plans to work after you start collecting your benefits. This is because the total dollar amount of your benefits will vary based on how old you are when you claim the benefit and whether or not you are still working.

If you are getting a divorce, you should also be thinking about Social Security. If you were married at least 10 years and do not ever re-marry, you may qualify for benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings when you both reach age 62. The result is that you could receive the higher of benefits based on your own work history or half of your former spouse’s benefit, even if he or she has remarried.

How much Social Security am I entitled to?

As of 2014, the maximum benefit per month for a person who earned the maximum taxable earnings for 35 years or more is $2,663 per month. However, the average monthly retirement benefit is $1,328.  Learn about the FACTS of Social Security

Have more questions about how to Maximize YOUR Social Security? Ask Faye Sykes, National Speaker for Social Security Benefit Planners and learn how planing now will save you time and money later.

Lost my Social Security Card

You’ve lost your Social Security Card, what do I do? First of all, don’t panic. They’re lot’s of protections now that will alert you if your number is being used. But the most important thing to do is REPORT IT! Any time you lose sensitive personal information such as your Social Security card, it is a good idea to request an initial security alert be added to your credit report. An initial security alert is free and remains on your report for 90 days. It lets creditors know that you may be a victim of identity theft so someone could be trying to apply fraudulently for credit in your name.

The easiest way to request a security alert is by going online, although you can also request the alert by phone or by mail. To add an alert via the Internet, visit Experian’s online Fraud Center and select “Add an initial security alert.” Simply complete the form and submit it through the secure Web link. To add an alert by phone call 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742) and select the fraud option. Follow the voice instructions to add an alert and request a report.  After you have reported it for credit reasons, now report it to the Social Security Administration

Contact the Social Security Administration

Contact the Social Security Administration to let them know the card was lost and to request a new one. For more information, please visit the Social Security Administration’s site.

How do I replace it?

It is free to replace your social security card if it has been lost or stolen. You are limited to 3 replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. For example, changes in immigration status that require card updates may not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship.

In order to get a replacement social security card you will need to provide documentation that proves you are a US citizen and your identity. All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. The social security office will not accept photocopies, notarized copies of documents or receipts showing you applied for the document. Social Security may use one document for two purposes, such as using your US passport as proof of both citizenship and identity.


Once you have the necessary documents the next step would be to print out the social security card application and fill it out. Once you fill it out and print it you need to then either take it to your local social security office or mail it to the office. Click here for the application form. If you have questions or issues about replacing your Social Security card then you need to contact your local administration office.

For more questions regarding your Social Security Benefits, or want to learn Social Security Basics? Contact Faye Sykes and learn how you can maximize your benefits.

Top Tips for Business Owners to Maximize Retirement Income

Are you a business owner with an at-home spouse who helps out with bookkeeping or a variety of other tasks that need to be done? Once you get to retirement age it’s too late, but for those of you that are in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or even 50’s there’s still time to let these efforts build future benefits. Paying your spouse at least $4,880 a year will ensure that they continue to vest into the Social security system, which will help you at retirement time.

To fully vest you need to earn 40 credit hours, with a maximum of 4 credits per year at $1220 per credit.  Spouses who are not vested can still pull a half benefit off of their working spouse’s retirement benefit (or ex-spouse’s, if married over 10 years). If widowed after being married 9 months or more, you can draw benefits up to your deceased spouse’s full amount, depending on what age decide to file.

If both spouses have work history the social security retirement benefits picture can drastically change for the better. With two vested partners you’ll also have more options, such as the potential for the lower earning spouse to pull earlier while delaying the higher earning spouse’s filing until age 70 to get the highest benefit. And don’t forget that social security disability benefits are hinged on a person working at least 5 out of the last 10 years, which can help when the worst happens.

As you can see, it’s in your best interest to ensure that the work both partners contribute to your business is recognized as paid employment by the Social Security Administration. We offer a pre-check social security flat fee planning option that will help you review where you are today and give you insight about the impact on future income you can make by ensuring that both spouses are being paid for the work that they do.

Please “Select a Plan” so we can get started on maximizing your social security benefits or take our quiz to find out how much you know about your social security.

Social Security for Dependent Parents

Parents take care of us for so many years, and in some cases we are able to help our own parents in their retirement.  But what will happen if your dependent parent doesn’t outlive you?

Very few people know about an important social security benefit that can help your financially dependent parent should you die. If your parent relies on you for more than half of their living expenses, they may be able to receive benefits after your death. In order to take advantage of this benefit you must have earned enough credits to qualify for social security – that’s 40 credit hours – and your parent must:

Receive at least half of his or her support from you

  • Be at least 62 years old
  • Not have remarried since the adult child’s death
  • Not have an individual social security benefit that’s more than the potential benefit based on your earnings

How This Affects Social Security Benefit Planning

First, the age at which you claim your own retirement benefit doesn’t affect the time at which your parent can start receiving a parent’s benefit. (It is your date of death that determines that.)

Second, the age at which you claim your retirement benefit doesn’t affect the amount of your parent’s benefit based on your work record. The amount of a parent’s benefit is 82.5% of the deceased person’s primary insurance amount if there is one eligible parent. If there are two eligible parents, each parent’s benefit as a parent is 75% of the deceased person’s primary insurance amount. (If the parent is already receiving a different Social Security benefit — such as their own retirement benefit — then the total amount they will receive is the greater of the two benefits.)

We offer a FREE Quiz that you can take to test your knowledge on YOUR social security. Most often people wait until they need it the most.  Don’t be that person. Contact us today! Or Call: 877-270-SSBP (7727)

What Every Expat Needs to Know About Social Security

So you have decided to work or retire out of the United States. How does this affect your Social Security and Medicare benefits? The answer varies by country, and it will work out better for you in certain countries than in others. It’s important to understand what is at stake.  We broke down what Expats or (Expatriate) needs to know

  • About 20 countries have agreements to prevent double taxation. In the rest, you will pay taxes to your host country as well as Uncle Sam.
  • About 25 countries maintain bilateral agreements that allow you to transfer social security credits to and from the US. For example, if you work in the US for 20 years and then move to Canada and work there for another 10 years, when you retire you can transfer your US credits to Canada to vest into their system (or vice versa).
  • There are a few countries, such as North Korea and Cuba, where you will not be allowed to receive social security benefits while living there.
  • Your non-US spouse may or may not be entitled to your benefits if you were to pass. The laws vary by country and are quite complex.
  • If you think you will ever move back to the US then it is very important to sign up for Medicare part A, which is free, at age 65. There are ways to opt out of part B if you qualify, but if you do not sign up for part A there are permanent penalties that will persist throughout your retirement.
  • If you worked overseas and did not pay into social security for certain years, your pension from that country will most likely trigger a Windfall Earnings Provision (WEP) that partially offsets your social security benefit.

Determining retirement benefits for expats can be a confusing and complex situation, with many country-specific rules that change over the years. If you need help navigating social security options for expats and their families, please visit our website at to learn more.

How does Divorce and Social Security Work?

How does Divorce change my Social Security

We get a lot of questions regarding Divorce and Social Security. How it works, and who qualifies for what? Filing for Social Security involves a dizzying array of choices and decisions. When should you claim benefits? What’s the best way to maximize your income? Selecting the right options isn’t easy for anyone, and for those who are divorced it can be even harder. If you’re confused by the myriad of rules and regulations around filing for Social Security as a divorced individual, keep these guidelines in mind:

If you were married over 10 years, you can claim spousal benefits. This is true as long as you meet the following conditions:

  • You’ve been divorced for at least two years at the time you file.
  • You have not remarried.
  • You have reached the age of 62 (or older).
  • Your spouse is qualified by work history and citizenship to claim Social Security retirement/disability benefits.

Your spousal benefit will be equal to one half of the full retirement amount your ex-spouse is qualified to receive, assuming you file at your full retirement age. In many cases, this could be more than the amount you would receive based on your own work history – if you were out of the work force caring for children, for example. If your own work record is higher than you will receive your own benefit. In either case if you file at age 62 this could reduce your benefit as much as 30% for the rest of your retirement which can cost you thousands of retirement dollars.

You can receive the full amount of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit if he or she passes away. If your ex-spouse is deceased you can receive benefits as a widow or widower instead of spousal benefits. You qualify for the full amount of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefit, just as you would if you had still been married at the time of death. The rules are similar to those for spousal benefits:

  1. The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years.
  2. You must have attained your full retirement age (your benefit will be less if you file early).
  3. You must not have remarried before age 60. A marriage at or after the age of 60 will not affect your ability to qualify for this type of benefit.

In both types of Social Security benefits, it makes no difference whether your spouse has remarried one or more times. These benefits are yours if you qualify based on your age and marital status, even if there is a current spouse or widow who also collects benefits.

Still confused? Please contact our office for a consultation. We’ll help you clarify your options and find your best path forward. Social Security Benefit Planners 877-270-SSBP (7727)

Stop Screwing Yourself, Business Owners!

Business owners typically prioritize the success of their company over other financial goals. That’s a good thing in general, but it’s important to keep a balance or you could be creating a host of long-term financial problems for yourself while you’re trying to do the right thing.

A common pattern I see with my clients is that they pay themselves as little as possible and put the vast majority of the available money back into the business. That may be good for the business but it’s not necessarily a smart move for your overall financial picture. When it’s time for retirement, problems arise:

  • Little Social Security income. By keeping the amount you pay yourself low over the years, you deprive yourself of Social Security benefits you might have been able to collect later. The amount of monthly benefit you receive is calculated based on your average earnings over a 35-year period. If you didn’t pay yourself much, the government won’t either.
  • Minimal retirement savings. When you plough all the profits back into the company you reduce the amount available to fund your personal retirement account. That means you don’t have a substantial nest egg that’s growing to take care of you once you’re ready to hand the business over to new owners.
  • Expecting too much. Selling your business when retirement beckons may deliver a nice bundle to provide for your financial needs in the coming years. Then again, it might not. Economic conditions shift, and the type of business you own can make a huge difference in the amount you can actually sell it for.

Take care of your business, but be sure to look out for your own best interests as well. Paying yourself a fair wage and investing in assets like equities and real estate are just as important as that new equipment or extra staff member your company could use. The money you pay into Social Security and invest privately will work together to give you a higher income in retirement than you’d have otherwise.

If you’re not sure how much you should be paying yourself or investing, please contact us today and we’ll help you find the right balance. You deserve a comfortable retirement!

Social Security Benefit Planners
800.270.SSBP (7727)

Military Service and Social Security – How it works

Worried about how your military service affects your Social Security? You don’t have to, because the retirement income you’ve earned through military service won’t reduce your Social Security benefits. In fact, if you served on active duty between 1957 and 2001, you may even be credited for extra earnings on your Social Security record.

For Social Security purposes, active duty includes active duty, reserve duty and active duty for training (ACDUTRA), and includes your service in the:

  •         Army
  •         Navy
  •         Air Force
  •         Marines
  •         Coast Guard
  •         National Guard
  •         Public Health Service (service as a commissioned officer)

Although your benefits are not impacted by retirement income from the military, Social Security benefits for survivors may reduce the income beneficiaries receive through the Department of Defense Survivors Benefit Plan. Your military retirement advisor or the Department of Defense will be able to offer information specific to your situation.

Whenever you served, the American people thank you and wish you a happy retirement, complete with all the Social Security benefits to which you are entitled. Want assistance in understanding optimal options for maximizing your Social Security? Choose one of our plans and please use USA2017 to save $50 off any plan.

Social Security and Railroad Earnings

Working for a railroad means your Social Security benefits may be calculated differently than for other industries. To qualify for a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board, which maintains your record of earnings, you’ll need to have worked for the railroad at least 120 months or 60 months of railroad work that took place after 1995.

  • For railroad workers whose work history includes less than five years of service since 1995 and less than ten total years of railroad work, your railroad earnings will be added to your other work history to calculate your Social Security credits and your benefits from Social Security. To see your earnings history, you can view your Social Security Statement online. Note that railroad earnings prior to 1973 do not show on your statement but are included in calculating the credits shown and your estimated benefits.
  • Workers who have at least ten years of railroad work or five or more years of railroad work since 1995 usually qualify for a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board. The earnings from this railroad will not be used to calculate Social Security credits or benefits.
  • If you’re entitled to a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board, you can still receive Social Security benefits as long as your work history includes enough credits to qualify for Social Security based on your non-railroad employment history. However, your Tier 1 Railroad Retirement Annuity will be reduced if you also receive Social Security.

We are here to help if you would like to project what your retirement income options will look like.  Please go to our “Select a Plan” to learn more and sign up and use RAILROAD2017 to save $50 off any plan.

Are Employees of Foreign Governments Covered by Social Security?

Working inside the U.S. as an employee of a foreign government or an instrumentality of one can mean you’re not covered by Social Security. These workers include diplomats, embassy employees, non-diplomatic representatives, consular officers and employees of foreign government instrumentalities (non-commercial organizations that function on behalf of a foreign government).

Whether or not your work will be counted toward Social Security benefits is controlled by your citizenship status.

U.S. Citizens who work for a foreign government are treated as self-employed citizens are for Social Security. Your employer will not withhold Social Security taxes but your earnings can still count toward your coverage under the program. You are responsible for paying self-employment taxes on the income. Citizens who work for an instrumentality are covered by Social Security, but their earnings may be treated as employment or self-employment based on three conditions. The U.S. Department of State and the IRS will determine which category your work falls into.

Non-citizens are not covered by Social Security for work they perform for a foreign government. Their employment for an instrumentality of a foreign government may or may not be covered by Social Security, depending on same three conditions mentioned above.

Dual citizens who hold citizenship in the U.S. and another country are covered by Social Security in most cases, but depending on the country for which they are working, they may need to pay self-employment taxes or not. Dual citizens who work for an instrumentality of a foreign government may or may not be exempt from paying Social Security taxes on their earnings. Reciprocal social security agreements between the U.S. and foreign governments vary by country, so it is important that dual citizens speak with a qualified professional or governmental administrator to determine program eligibility and tax responsibilities.

If you want to understand options that pertain to your situation please go to our “Select a Plan” and sign up for one of our planning options. Use FOREIGN2017 to receive $50 off any plan.


Social Security for Federal Government Employees

Long-time employees of the Federal government may be confused about their Social Security benefits, and it’s easy to understand why. The U.S. government changed the retirement system for their employees in 1984, and only one of those systems include earnings for Social Security.

Prior to 1984, all employees were covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), which did not withhold Social Security taxes from workers’ earnings. As a result, these earnings do not qualify government workers for Social Security credits or benefits.

The retirement system that replaced the CSRS is the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), and under this system Social Security taxes are withheld from workers’ earnings. These earnings are included in calculating Social Security credits and benefits.

Everyone who began working for the Federal government during or after 1984 is covered under Social Security, assuming a sufficient work history to earn the required 40 credits.

Federal employees who switched to the FERS program are also covered under Social Security; all the work they performed after switching to FERS is counted toward their Social Security credits and these earnings are used to calculate benefits.

Some workers who were already covered under CSRS chose to remain under that program after FERS was available. These employees have not contributed into Social Security and are not eligible to receive benefits under the program. However, they are eligible to receiver Medicare Part A coverage after they earn the 40 quarterly credits required of all participants.

We want to help you customize retirement income options and use FEDERAL2017 for $50 off any plan option.

Social Security Experts

Social Security Benefit Planners (SSBP) can help you answer that question. With over 2,700 regulations governing Social Security, it’s not surprising that few people know they qualify for so much more. Our team of financial experts and researchers look at your individual life circumstances to create a report detailing your options, and help you create a strategic plan to make the most of those options. Ready to discover what you actually qualify for?

Who Needs Social Security Planning?

Anyone who qualifies to receive Social Security benefits and either hasn’t yet elected to receive their benefits or is within the first 11 months of receiving them can benefit from a detailed analysis and plan, including:

  • Married couples who want to understand which options will benefit them the most
  • Business owners who pay themselves little and put all or most of their money back into their business
  • Immigrants who want to learn what they need to do in order to qualify for benefits
  • Retirees who provide full time care for their minor children or grandchildren
  • Widows and widowers with minor children
  • Widows and widowers age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled)
  • Recently married same-sex couples who want to know more about their newly qualified benefits
  • Divorcees close to retirement
  • Disabled persons who are unable to work
  • People with unique situations who want to learn the best strategy for maximizing their benefits

We Help More Than Just Retirees

Many different circumstances could qualify you and your family for Social Security benefits. Here are just a few examples of those we’ve assisted:

  • A woman whose older ex-husband had been collecting Social Security was able to file for benefits for their mutual biological minor child – delivering almost $150k of support over the next nine years.
  • A recently married couple in their 60s was able to draw spousal benefits that increased their current income by nearly $13k per year, while still delaying filing for the wife’s benefits until age 70, when they will be at their highest level.
  • A woman who was able to pull an extra $300 per month in benefits based on her deceased ex-spouse’s Social Security record, which she did not know she was entitled to draw on.
  • A grandfather who is the full-time caregiver for his 3 minor grandchildren was able to get almost $44K per year in family benefits, which helped keep the family intact.

Read our Client Stories and see how we have helped people maximize their Social Security.  Let’s see if we can help you also.

How to maximize your Social Security

Social Security Planners

Deciding when and how to claim Social Security benefits is one of the most important financial decisions that most retirees will ever make. Despite changes to two key claiming rules that took effect last year, there are still enormous opportunities to maximize lifetime benefits for married couples, divorced spouses, survivors and dependents.

Individuals who were at least 66 years old and who filed and suspended their benefits by the April 29, 2016, deadline are grandfathered under the old rules. The action triggered benefits for a spouse or dependent child, even if the family members become eligible for benefits after the deadline. Meanwhile, the worker’s own retirement benefit continues to grow by 8% per year up to age 70.

The one date you need to know about the new rules for married couples and divorced spouses: Jan. 1, 1954. Eligible individuals who were born on or before that date can still claim only spousal benefits when they turn 66 and collect half of their mate or ex-mate’s full retirement age benefit while their own retirement benefit grows by 8% per year. At 70, when the delayed retirement credits end, they can switch to their own maximum benefit.

Ex-spouses who were married at least 10 years, divorced and currently single can collect on their ex’s Social Security record as if they were still married. Divorced spouses born on or before Jan. 1, 1954, can claim only spousal benefits — even if their ex has not yet claimed benefits — if both former spouses are at least 62 years old and they have been divorced at least two years. Ex-spouses born after that date must file for their highest benefits based on their age at time of claim.

Social Security beneficiaries can change their mind and withdraw their application for benefits within the first 12 months of claiming them. But there’s a catch. They must repay all the benefits they have received and any family benefits collected on their earnings record. Later, they can restart their benefits at a higher amount based on their new claiming age.

If they miss that 12-month window, they can voluntarily suspend benefits — but not repay — to earn delayed retirement credits of 8% per year up to age 70. They cannot collect any benefits during the suspension period nor can anyone collect benefits on their record during that period.

There are more…If you want to maximize your Social Security Benefits, have Social Security Benefit Planners set up a strategy for you. Select a plan and let’s get to work.

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 or sign up to get your own customized plan to get your extra Clams today!  

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The Birth of Social Security in America

How do I collect Social Security?

We take Social Security for granted, but where did this important insurance program come from and when did it start? It hasn’t been around forever, has it? The answer is no. Social Security began after the Great Depression, when millions of Americans who had lost their savings were facing an old age defined by stark poverty. Few workers had pensions through their jobs, and President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to do something to alleviate the poverty that faced so many older workers in their retirement years.

Since its creation in 1935, millions of retirees have been able to live more comfortably because of this national insurance program, which they collectively funded through payroll taxes during their working years you will see this as FICA on your payroll statement. Though Social Security wasn’t meant to be the only source of income for beneficiaries, it was in its early years and, unfortunately, it still is today for many. As per Social Security fact sheet in 2017 21% of married couples and 43% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. Many people do not realize that this is a program that has a life insurance, disability and retirement income benefits that you and your family can benefit from.

With changing demographics that include more retirees and fewer workers, Social Security has had to evolve over the years. President Reagan signed into law several revisions to Social Security after Congress passed suggestions made by the Greenspan Commission, which had reviewed the program’s financial picture. These changes included an increase in the payroll tax that pays for benefits as well as a gradual increase in the retirement age, from 65 to 67.

In the future, it’s likely that more changes will have to be made to keep the program financially sound. The prospect can sound alarming, but making necessary tweaks to keep a valuable program that provides millions of Americans with the basic income they need is well worth the effort. Long live Social Security!

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