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Understanding Social Security Benefits

A secure, comfortable retirement is every worker's dream. And now because we're living longer, healthier lives, we can expect to spend more time in retirement than our parents and grandparents did. Pursuing the dream of a secure, comfortable retirement is much easier when you plan your finances.

Social Security Basics

Social Security, at your full retirement age, will replace approximately 40% of the average workers take home pay. Although many retirees have found a way to live off of this amount, most retirement planners suggest retiree’s plan for approximately 65-75% of your current income. With such a large gap, identifying ways to maximize your social security benefit has become a very important part of a retirement plan.

If you have questions about your benefits, the best place to gather information is visit the social security website or attend one free social security workshops (skip ahead for more information) . The website is filled with calculators, information on filing for benefits as well as many frequently asked questions. In addition to the website, every year you will receive a green and white social security statement a few months before your birthday. It is important that you review this statement each year to make sure that earnings were reported correctly (especially if you are self-employed). Workers and their employer currently pay 6.2% (12.4% if you are self employed) of their gross pay up to $106,800.

 About Your Benefits

Earnings will be counted as zero. Workers must typically work for 10 years before they earn enough credits to qualify for benefits.

In addition to ones own benefit, social security provides spousal benefits (assuming eligibility has been met) and survivor benefits. Coordinating spousal benefits and maximizing survivor benefits can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cumulative benefits received over a 30 year retirement.

For example, Bill and Jane are both 62 years old and are deciding “when to apply for benefits.” Bill’s benefit at full retirement age is $2,000, while Jane’s benefit at full retirement age is $800. As you can see in the below scenarios, this is not a decision to be made lightly. The cumulative difference between scenario A and Scenario D is over $270,000, not to mention the surviving spouse in Scenario D will be living off of $70,500 at age 90 compared to $40,100 in scenario A.

Maximizing Your Benefits

Since everyone’s situation is different, it is important that you have all the facts and numbers before you go on line to file. Bottom line – we want you to have the facts. That is why we developed our Social Security Workshop “Five Strategies to Maximize your Social Security Benefits.” We believe that by educating our clients and friends with this critical information we are empowering them to make one of the most important decisions surrounding their retirement plan.

We often conduct workshops in the Southern California area. They are free to attend and because they are geared for existing clients, you can rest easy - this is not a sales presentation. The workshop is will primary benefit couples between the ages of 55 and 65, but anyone is welcome to attend.

"Five Strategies to Maximize your Social Security Benefits"

If you would like more information about how you can maximize your social security benefits, call 866.825.5253 for more information.

Question’s that Every Baby Boomer is asking – that we can answer!

  • Will Social Security be there for me?
  • How much can I expect to receive?
  • When should I apply for Social Security?
  • How can I maximize my benefits?
  • Will Social Security be enough to live on in retirement?
  • How will extra income and IRA RMD's impact my benefits?

Choosing when to begin your social security benefits is a HUGE decision. Making a bad decision now can have a serious impact on Social Security benefits you stand to receive over your lifetime, costing you as much as $400,000 in benefits. To help baby boomer's better understand Social Security, this workshop will cover (1) Five factors to consider when deciding when to apply for benefits (2) When it makes sense to start/delay benefits (3) The importance of checking your earnings record (4) How to estimate your benefits (5) How to coordinate spousal benefits (6) How to minimize taxes on Social Security benefits.

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