for Sacramento History Preparing for 60th Anniversary
Elder Abuse Is Increasing Problem
Ken's Corner: Telemarketers
Haven’t Gotten the Message
Social Security Help May Boost Your Benefits
when to begin collecting your Social Security benefits could be one
of the most important retirement-income decisions you’ll make.
The difference between a good decision and a poor one could cost
you tens of thousands of dollars over your retirement, so doing your
homework and weighing your options now is a very smart move.
What to Consider
As you may already know, you can claim Social Security any time from age 62 to
70, but the longer you wait, the larger your monthly check. However, there are
many other factors you need to take into account to help you make a good decision,
like your current financial needs, your health and family longevity, whether
you plan to work in retirement, whether you have other retirement income sources,
and if you’re married, your spouse’s situation.
You also need to understand the dizzying array of rules that can affect your
Social Security benefits, and factor in the various strategies that can increase
your benefits if you’re married, divorced or widowed.
To help you compare all your options, there are a number of online tools and
services that have sprung up in recent years that can help you make an informed
To get started, your first step is to go to the Social Security Statement web
page (socialsecurity.gov/mystatement) and get your personalized statement that
estimates what your retirement benefits will be at age 62, full retirement age
(currently 66) or when you turn 70. These estimates are based on your yearly
earnings that are also listed on your report.
Once you get your estimates for both you and your wife, there are several online
tools you can turn to that can crunch hundreds of calculations to compare your
benefits under various scenarios and different ages to help you figure out your
optimum claiming strategy.
Two free sites are Analyze Now (analyzenow.com) which offers a robust decision-making
tool called the “Strategic Social Security Planner,” but requires
Microsoft Excel to use it. And AARP’s Social Security Benefits Calculator
(aarp.org/socialsecuritybenefits), which is a less sophisticated tool but very
easy to use.
Or, if you don’t mind spending a little money, there are higher-level services
like Social Security Choices (socialsecuritychoices.com) which provides a comprehensive
customized report for only $30 to help single, married or widowed pre-retirees
identify their best claiming strategy. Or Maximize My Social Security (maximizemysocialsecurity.com),
which charges $40 for their report, and takes into account the thousands of different
factors and combinations to help you maximize your benefits.
If, however, you want or need more help, there are specialized firms and financial
advisors that can advise you for a fee.
One of the best is Social Security Solutions (socialsecuritysolutions.com, 866-762-
7526), which offers several levels of service including their “Premier
Plus” plan that runs multiple calculations and comparisons, recommends
a best course of action in a detailed report, and gives you a one-on-one session
with a Social Security specialist over the phone to discuss the report and ask
questions. The fee for this service is $125.
Premier Social Security Consulting (premiersocialsecurityconsulting.com, 800-518-0761)
is another option that offers several consulting packages, ranging from $75 to
Or, you can get help through a fee-only financial adviser who specializes in
Social Security analysis and charges on an hourly basis. To find someone use
the Garrett Planning Network (garrettplanningnetwork.com, 866-260-8400), which
offers the services of 300 independent advisers nationwide. The cost for a Garrett
advisor ranges between $150 and $300 per hour.
TOP | HOME
This page and its contents ©2013
Metropolitan News Company, Inc.