Continuing Education: Social Security

By: Alexander Roig, March 21, 2016

At Family Financial Partners, we’re always looking for ways to keep learning so we can stay on top of the latest financial news – and pass that knowledge on to you, our clients.
Senior Partner Alex Roig and Wealth Advisors Brandon Schleter and Colin Wheeler recently attended a Social Security seminar in Cincinnati, and we wanted to share some of what they learned and their top takeaways from the day.

Brandon Schleter: Did you know you can change your mind if you elect to take Social Security early? That’s right – you have to pay back what you’ve collected of course, but you are allowed a “do-over” within one year if you decide to wait and get your full benefit instead of taking the smaller early benefit.

Alex Roig: Social Security call center employees are told to keep call times to an average of 4 minutes per call. Given the relative permanence of Social Security filing decisions, this seems a little shallow, considering that you’re expected to receive these benefits for the next 22.68 years (See source at www.SSA.gov life expectancy table, age 62 F). They can clarify direct questions but are not permitted or trained to recommend certain strategies or give in-depth advice. It’s important to be your own advocate and go in armed with lots of information. We can help you know what to ask.

Colin Wheeler: Your unclaimed Social Security benefits grow 8 percent each year until reach age 70. After age 70, you lose any Social Security benefits you don’t collect…it’s truly “use it or lose it.” Therefore, while waiting till 70 will help you maximize your benefit, there should be no reason not to take your benefit at 70. Our team can help you determine the best strategy to maximize you and your spouse’s benefits.

Alex: The number of spouses you can access benefits from is unlimited, provided you were married to each for at least 10 years. So if you really want to have flexibility, start marrying young, remember that tin is the traditional 10th anniversary gift, and work the system. That said, this Social Security strategy’s other side effects are NOT advisable!

Brandon: The “claim & suspend” strategy expires at the end of April of this year, which allows for couples to claim more benefits than if they were to each file individually. If you want to take advantage of this option, do so now. We can help you navigate the process.

Colin: In Kentucky, some employees are subject to a pension offset. Certain government employees with a pension benefit aren’t aware that that can offset the amount of Social Security they’re eligible for. While this can severely reduce the amount a teacher, for example, could receive, it’s important to ensure you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to.   Call us with questions – we’re always here to help.

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