Social Security and Retirement Planning
We are uniquely positioned to help you understand how to optimize your Social Security filing options and integrate that decision into a comprehensive retirement plan. Elizabeth worked for the Social Security Administration for over a decade; David has helped clients with their investments for retirement for over 20 years.
Social Security Planning
We are here to help you understand your Social Security options and how to file using the strategy that is best suited for you. Having worked at the Social Security Administration for over twelve years in multiple roles, including claims specialist, Elizabeth knows Social Security inside and out. She couldn’t give advice then, but she can now as an advisor.
What to Know Before You File
Set up a mySSA account as soon as possible. There’s no need to wait until you’re ready to file for benefits. If you don’t set one up for yourself, or have it blocked, someone else could set one up for you and potentially change important information on your record.
The absolute earliest you can file ahead of time is 3 months. If you try to set up an appointment or file online earlier, the computer system with SSA won’t allow it. A representative can’t work around this, so it’s not worth your time to try.
If you want benefits to begin in a certain month, make sure you file online or set up an appointment in that month, at the very latest. If you wait even one month too long, in most cases, you won’t be able to go back to your chosen month.
As long as you file or set up an appointment in the month that you want your benefits to start, there won’t be a delay in your payments.
Filing online is the quickest and most efficient way to file. This way you can make sure the information input is correct and that you will not wait days, weeks, or months to speak to a representative to have them file for you.
There are certain original or certified copies of documents that Social Security will request to see when you file for retirement benefits with them. Try to have these available before you file or set up an appointment:
- An unexpired, government issued ID (driver license, state issued ID, or passport are common examples)
- An original birth certificate or certified copy from the county clerk’s office (these documents usually have a raised seal on them)
- If you’re married, had any prior marriages that lasted over ten years, or if you had any previous marriages that ended in death, you will need to present the original marriage license for these events. SSA will not accept photocopies at all.
- If you were in the military, bring your original DD-214
- If you don’t have these documents, don’t delay filing. Sometimes SSA has access to these documents. If they don’t, they may be able to help you request them. Just know that if they have to request them for you, it will take longer to process your claim.
- Consult with a financial professional to make sure you are filing for benefits at the optimal time for your personal situation. While your situation may be very simple, there are many times when people never fully understand ALL their options and fail to file at their optimal time.
Claiming Social Security at the optimal time is critical to successfully maximizing income in retirement, but it’s just part of the overall picture.
Income Stability Ratio. A solid retirement plan is built on understanding your Income Stability Ratio. The Income Stability Ratio is a proprietary calculation within RetireUp, the retirement planning software program we use in our practice. Simply put, it measures the percentage of retirement income that is being generated from guaranteed or known sources (Social Security, pensions, income annuities) versus the percentage that is dependent on the market. Each client has a different comfort level regarding that percentage. What’s yours? 25%? 50%?
Let’s calculate it! We do that by understanding your projected annual retirement income needs, guaranteed income, and overall investments, and life and long-term care insurance policies.
Stress Test. When we present our findings to you, we also show you stress tests. What happens if the market drops during the first years of retirement? Sequence of returns during the first few years of retirement might be the difference of leaving a legacy or running out of money. What happens if you have a health expense need? What happens if you do not live to life expectancy? What’s the impact on your overall portfolio? How does that impact your family?
Solutions. While sharing our results with you, we also discuss possible adjustments. After our initial meetings, if we decide we are a good fit, we will talk about how we can work with you to implement a plan.