Are you planning your Social Security strategy? Social Security is a valuable resource, as it’s one of the few guaranteed income sources available for retirees. It will likely play an important role in your financial picture. But how much do you actually know about Social Security?
Below are a few interesting facts about the Social Security program. As you approach retirement, take time to research your Social Security options so you can make an informed decision about your benefits.
Nearly every retiree relies on Social Security. The Social Security Administration estimates that 9 out of 10 retirees rely on Social Security for income. Social Security isn’t just for retirees, though. In addition to providing income for 45 million retired workers, it also provides income to more than 10 million disabled workers and 6 million survivors.1
Many retirees count on Social Security for a large chunk of their income. According to the Social Security Administration, a third of all retiree income comes from Social Security benefits. Nearly half of all retired married couples and 71 percent of single retirees rely on Social Security for more than half of their income.1
Retirees are living longer than ever. Social Security started paying regular monthly benefits to retirees in 1940. At that time, a 65-year-old could expect to live for another 14 years. Today a 65-year-old is expected to live an additional 20 years. The number of retirees over age 65 is expected to increase from 49 million today to more than 79 million by 2035.1
Social Security increases your income to keep up with inflation. Social Security offers cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to help retirees keep up with inflation. However, the adjustment isn’t guaranteed and may not happen every year. In 2017 the increase was 2 percent. In 2016 it was 0.3 percent. There was no increase at all in 2015.2
Social Security COLAs have historically been lower than the inflation rate for health care. Social Security COLAs are based on the consumer price index (CPI). However, the CPI doesn’t account for the fact that seniors spend more on health care than the overall population. Thus, the CPI may not weigh medical costs in a way that’s reflective of retirees’ true costs. The result is that Social Security COLAs haven’t kept up with health care inflation in 33 of the past 35 years.3
There’s a cap on your Social Security benefits. The maximum Social Security benefit is currently $2,687 per month, but it’s adjusted regularly based on inflation. You probably don’t need to worry about the cap, though. The average benefit amount is just over $1,300 per month.3
The earliest you can file for benefits is age 62. Many people choose to file for benefits as soon as they’re eligible. If you file before your full retirement age (FRA), however, you could see a permanent reduction in your monthly benefit. Most people reach their FRA between their 66th and 67th birthdays. If you file before your FRA, your benefit will be reduced, perhaps as much as 35 percent.4
You can delay your filing past your FRA. You may wonder why anyone would delay their Social Security benefit. The main reason is because Social Security offers an 8 percent benefit credit for each year past your FRA that you delay your filing. The latest you can delay your filing is age 70. If your FRA is 66 and you wait until age 70, your benefit could increase as much as 32 percent.5
Social Security will start running deficits in 2020. We’re only a few years away from Social Security starting to run annual deficits. That means the program will pay out more in benefits than it brings in through payroll taxes. Without changes, the Social Security trust fund will be completely depleted by 2034.6
That doesn’t mean Social Security will end in 2034. It’s possible that Social Security could last to 2090 even if the trust fund is depleted in 2034. However, doing so may require a 21 percent cut in benefits across the board.
Ready to plan your Social Security strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Stoll and Basler Financial Services. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.
The material is not intended to be legal or tax advice. The insurance agent can provide information, but not advice related to social security benefits. Clients should seek guidance from the Social Security Administration regarding their particular situation. The insurance agent may be able to identify potential retirement income gaps and may introduce insurance products, such as an annuity, as a potential solution. Social Security benefit payout rates can and will change at the sole discretion of the Social Security Administration. For more information, please consult a local Social Security Administration office, or visit www.ssa.gov
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If you’re like most retirees, you’ve spent much of your career accumulating assets to fund your retirement. You’ll likely rely on those assets to generate a portion of your retirement income. While you will probably have Social Security income and possibly even a pension, you may also need income from your savings.
Even if you’ve saved a substantial amount for retirement, it can be difficult to know how much to withdraw each year. If you take too much, you could deplete your savings and put yourself in a challenging financial situation later in life. Take too little, and you may struggle to cover your living expenses.
A popular strategy is to take 4 percent of your savings balance each year as a retirement distribution. The idea behind this recommendation is that 4 percent is a modest amount that will allow your savings to continue to grow. It’s also a simple approach that makes it easy to plan your distributions.
It’s a new year, which means for many people that it’s time to reassess their life and set new goals. Health and fitness goals are popular this time of year, as many people resolve to eat healthier or exercise more frequently. Others may focus on their education or career development. Some people may use this time to look at their house and plan out various home improvement projects for the coming year.
As you set your new year’s resolutions, you may want to review your financial picture. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to analyze your financial situation and develop a list of action items. A regular annual financial checkup can help you stay on top of potential risks and on track to meet your biggest financial goals.
Did you just retire? If so, congratulations! This is the time to sit back, relax and enjoy your newfound free time. Travel with your friends or loved ones. Whatever makes you happy, now is the time to do it!
You probably spent a considerable amount of time planning for this time in your life. Hopefully, that planning included developing a budget and an income plan. You also may have worked with a financial professional to develop an investment plan.
All of those planning tools are helpful, however, they’re only effective if you implement them. In retirement, it’s easy to deviate from your plan. You might take a vacation that’s outside of your budget. Or, fearing loss in the market, you may shift to an allocation different from your retirement plan.
It’s the classic dilemma at the heart of every financial plan: Do you live for today or save for the future? The conservative and prudent advice is to live on a modest budget today so you have plenty of assets in reserve for future needs, especially after you retire. Commonly accepted wisdom seems to be that you should pinch pennies today in order to enjoy yourself down the road.
However, there’s also the very natural and understandable desire to live for today. There are likely things you want to do in life that would be best enjoyed while you’re young, not in retirement. Also, given the unpredictability of life, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to tick items off your bucket list when you’re older.