This year, about 64 million Americans will receive over one trillion dollars in Social Security benefits. If you are planning to join that total and claim your benefits, timing, strategy and sound decisions can all help you maximize the outcome for your household. When and how you claim, your marital status, your health, and even whether you have dependents can all affect what benefits you receive.
To get the most out of your hard-earned benefits, focus on developing the right plan for you and your family. Doing so could help you enjoy a more secure and comfortable retirement.
Given the complexities involved in claiming benefits, creating a plan of action for Social Security can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Your financial advisor can help you develop an appropriate retirement income strategy based on your individual circumstances – but there are a few key questions you can ask yourself beforehand to jumpstart the conversation.
Before making any decisions, it’s important to consider the elements of your life that could influence your individualized Social Security strategy. To prepare for your meeting with your advisor, start thinking through these key questions:
When are you planning to retire? Is this date relatively fixed, or is it more flexible?
What will your earnings look like if you continue to work past the age of 62? Would these come from continuing in your current role, or are you considering taking on new or part-time work down the road?
What other sources of income will you have in retirement? In addition to your Social Security benefits, will you be receiving any pension payments, employment income (part-time work) or annuity payouts? What about any business sale proceeds, insurance policies or inheritances? And of course, consider any retirement accounts or additional savings you've built up over the years.
How long do you expect to live? Consider your current health as well as your family history.
What does your family situation look like? Are you single, married or divorced? Do you have any dependents?
As you think through these questions and begin shaping a strategy with your advisor, consider creating a free “My Social Security” account at SSA.gov. Within your account, you can review a statement detailing your estimated benefits as well as explore other resources for developing a sound plan.