Social Security Maximization – the Hottest Topic in Financial Planning

Photo Courtesy of DonkeyHotey

Over the past 12 months, I have been peppered increasingly with questions from my near-retired clients on social security questions:

Should I take early benefits?

Should I wait until I’m 70?

Should I claim spousal benefits and keep working?

Can I claim spousal benefits from my ex?

Should we both wait until we’re 70?

Should my husband claim now and me later?

From all of these questions, I can determine one thing – ideas go “viral” as quickly through baby boomer social circles as they do among 20 somethings. Oh and that this topic is very interesting to a retiring cohort that knows this will be a large part of their retirement income and want to maximize their benefits. So what is the right answer?

The Right Answer Is…

I won’t tell you because I don’t know you (how the heck can I give you advice when I don’t even know who “you” are? 150-200 people per week read my site so it would be bad form on my part to advise. But I will tell you some of the factors that play a major role in determining how you should claim:

  • Your age (and your spouse’s age)
  • Your expected benefit (for marrieds, the difference in benefits for each spouse
  • How long you will work
  • Your life expectancy (and you spouse’s)

As an obvious example, if your family history is one where most die by 75, then waiting til 70 for you might be a bad idea (won’t maximize your lifetime benefit based on life expectancy).

Now some of you might say, “ok Chris said if I will likely die young, I should claim at 62.” That’s not what I’m saying– first if you’re married we need to think more. Second, this planning is part art, not just science because it’s not guaranteed that you would die by 75. All we can do is estimate based on data but it’s not exact. It’s just playing with probabilities.

If you’re puzzled about how to claim, give me a call or drop me a note on my contact form:

Phone: 781.393.0021

Link to contact form: Quick Contact Form