Planning to collect a strong Social Security income stream is now more important than ever. Due to both longer life expectancies and the continue trend of reduced employer retirement benefits, couples need to plan to make wise Social Security income election choices. There are several smart, creative, yet little-known ways, for couples to harvest more Social Security income over their lifetimes.
There are compelling income incentives for couples to apply some of these little-known claiming strategies. Depending on a couple’s Social Security “vitals” (earnings history, relative ages, anticipated life expectancies) and their goals, they may wish to apply claiming strategies such as the “File & Suspend,” or “Claim Some Now, More Later.” These techniques involve the combination of timing for filing of benefits, exercising the spousal income benefit option, and maximizing the survivor benefit income stream.
Social Security typically accounts for a portion of a couple’s retirement income picture. However, with shrinking investment values (e.g. real estate and stock portfolios) and historically low savings account yields, getting more Social Security income is now more important than ever. Married couples have literally hundreds of combinations when choosing their Social Security income election. The difference between the best and worst possible election can translate into well over $100,000 of additional income in a couple’s lifetime.
A significant portion of pre-retirees and early retirees do not “do the math” to maximize their Social Security income stream. Of course, this is a decision that should be customized for each couple’s unique situation. First of all, many folks are not aware these Social Security claiming strategies even exist. And, if they are aware, many do not take the time or are not counseled by a Financial Advisor, who is familiar with how to maximize Social Security income. Failure to examine and implement these claiming strategies can result in a significant shortfall in lifetime income for many retirees. Planning for maximizing their Social Security income benefit may be one of the most important decisions couples and singles make in their lifetime. The website, www.ssa.gov, is a good starting point and several on-line calculators can provide preliminary projections. A knowledgeable Financial Advisor can be an excellent resource for helping couples navigate the Social Security income election maze.