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Beyond Investments- Social Security

Published by: Nathan Woods, CFP® Date: July 24, 2020

For decades, the topic of Social Security has been a consideration for most everyone. Some Americans’ concern was how much they contributed to Social Security with each paycheck, while others’ thoughts centered around how much they would receive from Social Security in retirement, and a large group of retirees already receiving Social Security income hoped that income would keep-up with their growing expenses. All are important considerations, and as with any decision, there are various strategies to keep in mind when planning for, and beginning, Social Security payments.

The rules and design of the Social Security program have adapted over the years, but individuals’ reliance on the payments remains the same. Below are four key recommendations we most often give:

1. Be proactive
While many who contribute to the Social Security Administration (SSA) have their own retirement and benefits in mind, spouses and children may also be eligible for benefits in addition to your personal benefits. The rationale behind why others are eligible for benefits varies, but options such as disability income, income to survivors, and benefits to your spouse are all important considerations to remember.

2. What’s best for others may not be best for you
All too often we hear: “my neighbor began receiving Social Security immediately upon retirement so that’s what I’ll do, too.” While mimicking your neighbor’s decision could be best for you, it’s often not. The neighbor may not be married, may be a different age, or may not be as healthy as you – a myriad of factors to name a few. It’s great to know what path others take, but don’t immediately choose that same path.

3. Seek multiple sources of advice
Just as financial advisors may have differing recommendations for a client’s financial planning goals, SSA representatives may also recommend different strategies. Consult your financial advisor and even a couple SSA offices as you near Social Security eligibility. Yes, it’s more time spent and meetings scheduled, but at the end of the day, isn’t an optimized Social Security income for life worth a few extra hours?

4. Know your options
As referenced in all three of the previous points, knowing your options is likely the most important advice related to Social Security. There are many moving parts and many things an individual must consider – this article only mentions a few key areas. The average individual receiving Social Security income has worked (and paid-into Social Security) 30-to-40 years. Working that hard for so many years is a clear reason to “dot every ‘i'” and “cross every ‘t'” with something so important.

Ultimately, folks have contributed towards Social Security for years…decades. It’s a great benefit to help us all maintain a stream of income throughout multiple lifetimes. No matter where you are in life or how much focus you’ve put towards Social Security, it’s important to have a trusted advisor who can help with the process. If you have questions, Rather & Kittrell would be honored to help. Please feel free to contact us.