- Posted October 27, 2015 by
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For Retiring Workers, Social Security Strategies Can Make All the Difference in Retirement Income
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, for one, says he’ll seek an $18 trillion increase, part of which would be earmarked to expand Social Security.
And Republican candidate Ben Carson recently went as far to suggest that one solution to the fund’s impending insolvency is for Americans who don’t need Social Security Income to simply give it up voluntarily.
The proposals aren’t limited to those vying for the executive branch, either: Rep. Alan Grayson [D-FL.] of Florida’s ninth congressional district has announced plans to propose legislation known as the “Seniors Deserve a Raise Act.” The bill is designed to rework how the Social Security Administration calculates cost-of-living increases. In whole, it would increase benefits for future recipients and provide a $388 billion payout to beneficiaries going back to 1982.
One thing is clear – Social Security is an essential part of a retiree’s retirement income strategy when combined with additional investments.
The 2015 Social Security Study conducted by Harris on behalf of the Nationwide Retirement Institute also shows that the majority of investors [60 percent] would switch financial advisors in order to learn how to maximize Social Security benefits.
Only one in five pre-retirees say they are very confident or confident in their knowledge of Social Security, the study indicates; 24 percent of retired investors said they were completely confident. And fewer than one in five pre-retirees say their financial advisor has provided them with advice on Social Security. In fact, around two-thirds of investors who had received advice from their current advisor say they had to initiate the topic.
According to Scott Greene of Greene Financial Group in Clermont, FL, one of the best things a pre-retiree can do is make sure they’re not leaving money on the table when it comes to Social Security and taxes.
“Optimizing Social Security and minimizing taxes puts less stress and pressure on the investment portfolio,” said Greene. “Making bad decisions and losing money in the years that you’re spending the portfolio puts an unbearable pressure on the portfolio. Instead, retirees should be lessening that risk.”
Nearly 70 percent of Social Security recipients are retirees, and 74 percent of those polled in the Nationwide study say they plan to collect Social Security.
But with myriad rules and claiming strategies -- along with complex scenarios that vary by marital status, spousal income, and more – it can be difficult for consumers to feel as if they’re confidently navigating the system.
“Social Security not only helps Americans enjoy a secure retirement, it has also kept millions of Americans out of poverty,” says U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren [D-San Jose].
Regardless of where they’re getting their information, pre-retirees and retirees should do due diligence when it comes to following advice on Social Security benefits.
Widows may also have difficulties when it comes to navigating benefits after a spouse’s death. According to Debra B. Whitman, AARP’s chief policy officer, 46 percent of widows would be living in poverty at age 85 without Social Security benefits.
Today, there are 4 million widows and widowers on Social Security rolls, according to the SSA. Women account for 56 percent of Social Security beneficiaries aged 62 and older, and 66 percent of those 85 and older.