Weekend Reading: How to Help Clients Maximize Social Security Benefits

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

Deciding when to claim your Social Security benefits can have a large impact on your retirement income, and many individuals aren’t making the most of it. In fact, only about four percent of retirees are making the optimal Social Security claiming decision, which results in a loss of about $2.1 trillion in wealth.


Delaying vs. filing early: Without the existence of additional retirement savings, you must typically file for Social Security benefits early; however, those who do have savings, also have a chance to maximize their benefits. If you delay receiving benefits until after your full retirement age, your monthly benefit continues to increase year after year, by eight percent to be exact. In the event we don’t see a cut to benefits in 2034, the difference between claiming at age 62 versus age 70 is $131,951. On the other hand, someone who has a full retirement age of 67 and decides to claim benefits at age 62, receives 30 percent less in monthly payments.

An advisor’s role: When pinpointing the best filing strategy for you, it’s important for an advisor to take into consideration factors such as your current health state, whether or not you’re married, and most certainly, the accumulation of other retirement income assets. In addition, advisors must detect client behavioral bias barriers, such as only thinking in the short-term and wanting to file now or fearing that Social Security is going bankrupt.

Make the best decision for you: More than ever, longevity is playing a bigger role in optimizing your benefits, and if it’s likely you’ll be living into your 80s and 90s with other sufficient income sources, delaying your benefits is an option worth considering. While the Social Security Administration is likely grateful for any cost savings from early filers, I bet that’s not your priority.