By: Marc C. Shaffer
Have you considered how social security fits into your retirement plan? Social Security is an important factor when determining the amount of income you will have in retirement, but it is also a factor that causes confusion for many. With so many questions surrounding Social Security, such as when to start receiving benefits, the ins and outs of filing and suspending, survivor benefits and how to supplement your Social Security income, making the decision that works best for you can be a challenge. Working with an advisor who can walk you through the process may help you maximize your Social Security benefits. Without help, you may be leaving money on the table.
Improper timing of starting to receive benefits or unknowingly accepting less benefits than you are entitled can cost Americans tens of thousands of dollars over their lifetime. Consider these factors that may affect your benefits before making a decision:
When to Receive Benefits – Knowing how long you can wait to start receiving your benefits is very valuable. According to the 2013 Annual Statistical Supplement from the Social Security Administration, 37.2 percent of Americans start taking benefits as soon as they are eligible. But, could you afford to wait a few more years until you reach the full age of retirement? Doing so should increase your monthly benefit for life. If you are still working or have income from other sources that covers your financial needs for those years, you may want to hold off beginning to collect. However, if delaying would force you to take taxable distributions from your Individual Retirement Account, it may not be the best solution.
Special Situations with Death and Divorce – There are special situations that can affect your Social Security benefits, such as being a widow/er or an unmarried divorcee that was married 10 years or longer. In these situations, you should consider if the benefits to which you are entitled are less than those you would receive if you switched to your deceased spouse or former spouse's work benefits.
Life Expectancy – Considering your life expectancy can help you determine if you will have an appropriate amount to live on until death. If you are not expected to live well into your 80s or 90s, it could be to your benefit to start your benefits early. However, if you are in good health and may live several decades in retirement, you should consider if your additional retirement savings will last until your death, and if not, consider if a lower Social Security benefit would be able to sustain you once your other assets are depleted.
Originally published in Johnson County Lifestyle
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