Expert Commentary

$1 Billion more for our clients!

We are proud to help our clients “get more” Social Security benefits in 2013…..over $1 Billion more.

Social Security is one of the largest financial decisions you make in your life.  We have made the process to determine how to claim and find more benefits SIMPLE.  Unfortunately, there is a daunting amount of rules and it is complicated.  Our software leverages years of research published in the most prestigious academic journals.  You can see our running count of the additional benefits we have found at

http://www.socialsecuritysolutions.com/benefit-counter.php

See our recent announcement celebrating helping our clients in 2013!

http://news.morningstar.com/all/market-wired/MWR1083943/social-security-solutions-inc-finds-over-1-billion-more-for-its-clients.aspx

Fortune / CNN Money Recommend Social Security Solutions

Jean Chatzky a popular journalist and TV expert on financial matters on The Today Show recommends Social Security Solutions in her recent article on Social Security in Fortune/CNN Money.

See her article and case example by clicking the link below:

http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2014/01/14/social-security-calculator/

Dr. Reichenstein selected to The Experts panel for the Wall Street Journal

William Reichenstein, the Head of Social Security Solutions Research and Baylor Professor, was selected by the Wall Street Journal to be a contributor to the newspaper.  The WSJ has a section call The Experts where renowned industry experts are asked to write about important financial topics.

See Dr. Reichenstein’s first contribution entitled, “When is the Right Time to Start Claiming Social Security” here:

http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/tag/william-reichenstein/

Wall Street Journal recommends Social Security Solutions

Today the Wall Street Journal recommended Social Security Solutions after its evaluation of software to help consumers maximize their Social Security benefits.

Anne Tergesen evaluated a number of different software providers and says, “Social Security Solutions gets my vote for most user friendly.”  As part of her evaluation, Social Security Solutions also provided the largest amount of benefits based on the tested client case.

Overall, Social Security Solutions has the deepest logic engine developed by Dr. William Reichenstein from Baylor University. He and William Meyer have published more than anyone else in the country on Social Security strategies.

Anne concludes, “Social Security Solutions - takes into account the widest variety of household configurations and the impact on Social Security of a higher number of other sources of retirement income, and thus allows for greater customization.”

We are proud to bring an easy to use and powerful solution on this important financial decision.

Best way to coordinate Social Security with your savings – Morningstar interviews Founders

See recent interview of Meyer and Reichenstein by Morningstar. Learn how maximizing Social Security can make your money last longer. A case study and free report allow you to see how their research published in the Journal of Financial Planning could help you coordinate your claiming strategy with your retirement savings.

Link to article:

http://ibd.morningstar.com/article/article.asp?id=610000&CN=brf295,http://ibd.morningstar.com/archive/archive.asp?inputs=days=14;frmtId=12,%20brf295

10 Social Security Mysteries

Below is a copy of a recent article by Andy Landis on MarketWatch.  I think it is good, and agree many don’t know much about Social Security…well, that’s because it is too complicated.  Our goal it to make it simple and help you get the most money you are entitled to.

Of course, I agree with everything Andy writes below except the calculators section that plugs the tools on the Social Security’s website.  Remember, the government has a mandate that Social Security cannot give “advice” and tell you how to maximize your benefits.  It is worth a small fee to figure out the optimal strategy for your situation and to run different scenarios that you can personalize to your situation.

 

Article by Andy Landis, MarketWatch

Social Security is America’s largest source of retirement income. But most of us have little or no idea how it works. Worse yet, misinformation causes poor retirement decisions. Here are straight facts about Social Security’s top 10 mysteries.

First, some background. Social Security is insurance, paid for by workers and employers. Only workers and their families benefit from it. It insures against loss of your work income due to retirement (or age), disability or death. It has an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) equal to the inflation rate, to protect your long-term buying power.

Mystery #1: Will Social Security be there for me?Social Security can pay 100% of all promised benefits until 2033. After 2033 it can pay about 75% of promised benefits. There are numerous options to extend solvency indefinitely with a mix of tax increases and/or benefit cuts. If you’re a pessimist, subtract 25% from your SSA benefit estimate.

Mystery #2: Is Social Security a good deal? Social Security is a complete package of worker benefits, including retirement, disability and life insurance. The average worker earning $43,000 with a non-working spouse would need to save over $700,000 to duplicate their retirement payments, plus buy additional disability and life insurance. The Social Security Administration’s administrative overhead is a low 0.8%. Social Security payments are at least 15% tax-free.

Mystery #3: How does Social Security compute my payment? Your payment is based on three steps:

  • First, to be eligible for retirement you need at least 10 years of part-time work (or fewer years for midcareer disability or death).
  • Once eligible, your payment is based on averaging your 35 highest-paid work years (or fewer years for midcareer disability or death).
  • You get a “100%” payment if you first draw at your Full Retirement Age (or FRA, currently 66 and phasing to 67). You get lower payments if you start payments earlier, and higher payments if you start later.

Mystery #4: How can I get the most lifetime payments—by filing early, at FRA, or later? It’s an individual and financial-planning decision. In simple dollars, it’s best to apply later, if you have average life expectancy or above. But in ”present value” dollars, counting inflation, taxation, withdrawal options and interest rates, it may be best to apply early. See this post for some considerations and software resources (Andy recommends www.SocialSecuritySolutions.com).

Mystery #5: What are good Social Security planning tools? Definitely sign up for a ”My Social Security” account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount/. See SSA’s suite of calculators atwww.ssa.gov/OACT/anypia/index.html. And see the software products at the link in Mystery #4.

Mystery #6: Will Social Security pay my family members? Yes, in certain circumstances.

  • Your spouse or former spouse can get up to 50% of your FRA payment if they are at least FRA; less if they file early (as early as age 62).
  • Your spouse can be paid 50% at any age if caring for your child under 16.
  • Your unmarried child can be paid 50% if under 18, under 19 and in high school, or at any age if totally disabled since youth.
  • In most cases, your family member must first file for any benefits on their own work record. (An exception is your spouse who is over FRA.)

Mystery #7: Can family members receive Social Security after I die? Yes. Payments to your survivors are possible whether you die before or after your own Social Security eligibility.

  • Your widow(er) or surviving former spouse can be paid up to 100% of your payment if they are at least FRA, or a reduced amount as early as age 60.
  • Your widow(er) can be paid 75% at any age, if caring for your child under 16.
  • Your unmarried child can be paid 75% if they are under 18, under 19 and in high school, or any age if totally disabled since youth.
  • Your parent over 62 can be paid if they were dependent upon you.

Mystery #8: Can I work and still get Social Security? Yes. If you are over FRA, there is no work limit; you can earn as much as you can and still get full Social Security payments. Before FRA, some of your Social Security is withheld if your earnings exceed the annual earnings threshold, $15,120 in 2013. (Higher limits apply the year you turn FRA.) Only work income counts against Social Security; not counted are pensions, interest, dividends, capital gains, etc. Remember, your Social Security does not stop as soon as you reach the threshold; that’s where partial withholding begins. If you get Social Security disability, different work rules apply.

Mystery #9: How do I file for Social Security? You can file by visiting an office, by calling (800) SSA-1213, or online at www.ssa.gov. You can file up to 3 months before you want payments to begin.

Mystery #10: When can I enroll in Medicare?Medicare age is 65. You should file promptly by contacting SSA (see Mystery #9), preferably 2-3 months early. Late filing causes penalty fees and delayed coverage. If you are covered by health insurance from current work done by you or your spouse, you can postpone Medicare until that insurance or work ends. Note that it must be insurance from current work, not a retiree plan or COBRA. Everyone should contact SSA 3 months before their 65th birthday to make sure their Medicare enrollment is on track.

You now have a good start at understanding your retirement’s cornerstone.  But remember, everything here has individual nuances and exceptions. Only SSA can make official decisions, so be sure to study their website and consult with them by phone or in-office.

As always, keep on planning.

How working impacts your Social Security decision and retirement plan?

How working impacts your retirement plan? Here is a recent article quoting the founders of www.SocialSecuritySolutions.com. Income from work may be an important part of your retirement. Making sure you integrate this into your retirement plan is critical. Coordinating how you withdrawal and claim Social Security can save your a lot of money.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/taxes-social-security-and-your-part-time-job-2013-02-13

Social Security more complex than Americans think

Has your advisor helped you with your Social Security decision?  Social Security is the largest financial decision you will make regarding your retirement.  Quality matters….make sure you evaluate all the options and assess your Social Security strategy relative to the other resources you have.

Here is an article quoting William Meyer at a recent industry event.

 

http://www.bankinvestmentconsultant.com/news/social-security-a-catalyst-for-money-in-motion-2681254-1.html

WARNING – 6 strategies are not enough

In my last post, I spoke about the importance of QUALITY.  All Social Security tools are not the same.  You need to understand the recommendations you are given on how to claim, but you need to make sure the advice is actually good.   How do you know if the advice is good?

We have studied this area extensively.  We know the details matter.

Previously, I have written and been quoted about deficiencies in the AARP Social Security calculator.  Be careful, you can receive bad results since it does not solve for or give you a strategy for the most benefits you receive over your lifetime.

My point in this post is different.  Be careful, also, about the depth of the logic in tools you use.  There are 2 new tools that say they “optimize” when they only use 7 default strategies.  People, there are way more than 7 strategies to consider.  If you do not comprehensively evaluate your situation, you may leave a lot of money on the table.

Here is an example, of the leading financial planning software financial advisors use.  They just released functionality to “optimize” social security looking at only 6 strategies.  Enclosed is a comparison where the software uses their optimized recommendation compared to our recommendation.  This leading tool, tells you that you are going to have a “rainy day” (i.e., in the red zone) and can’t afford your retirement goals.  Using the same couple and uploading the results from our software with more detailed logic, we got them more money and showed them that they could afford their retirement goals (i.e., our results got them into the green zone).

The take-away is that quality matters.  Make sure you run your numbers and create a strategy on how to claim benefits. But, make sure the answer is accurate and truly maximizes your benefits.

 

 

 

Meyer and Reichenstein featured speakers at the National Financial Planning Association meeting

Over 1,000 financial planners listened to Bill Meyer and Bill Reichenstein talk about Social Security strategies at the premier event for practitioners in San Antonio, Texas.

Committed to education and helping advisors better help their clients, Meyer and Reichenstein had 3 separate sessions on this important topic.

Social Security benefits is the largest component of retirement income for Americans.

I can tell when a husband loves his wife when we plan with our clients

Yesterday posted about how women live longer and how this needs to be incorporated into a Social Security and withdrawal strategy.

This week, Boston College’s Security Project re-posted some good research from 2005 about how women “irrationally” claim their Social Security benefits, see attachement.

We have written about this too. What I want to reflect to you is the behavior and qualitative aspects I observe in practice. Recently, I had a married women contact me for help. It was clear that she should claim early and her husband should delay his benefits to earn the 8% credits or 32% more by age 70. She would then receive his higher benefits after he passes away in survivor benefits. The numbers were huge…over $100,000 to do the strategy we recommended. However, the husband did not want to do it. We had 3 meetings. Each time I represented the numbers and the reasons. The woman was concerned because they did not have much savings. They had high salaries and a business now, but did not save a lot over the last 20 years. The husband did not want to continue working and thought he would not live a long life. Again, a “no brainer” decision on what they should do if BOTH people are taken into account.

So, what happened? It became obvious that the husband was more focused on his well being versus the security of his wife once he passed away. He did not want to work. Did not want the stress related to delaying his benefits and drawing down of their savings. Our last meeting was awkward. For me, sad. I don’t think the husband loved his wife…if he did, the strategy to take care of her after he was gone was crystal clear.

So, run your numbers. See the outcomes and scenarios to make your personal decision. You will be surprised with the huge financial difference your decisions will make over time. If you make good decisions, you have more money. End of Story!!

Retirement planning is complicated and you can’t make up the different if you make a mistake. Find an expert to help you.

http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/ib_35.pdf

Focus in the right place to get more

Will you receive more out of the system than you put in? – lots of banter about this article today, see below. Progressively more Americans will pull more money out of Social Security than they paid in.

This is NOT new news, right! We know there are more people retiring than workers paying into the system. Change has to happen. The key take-away is figuring out:

1) Will you be impacted by impending change based on your age and when you retire2) Creating a strategy to get the most money out of the system

The current research and history shows that if you are in your late 50s or older, you are not likely to be impacted. Remember the government does not act very fast. The last big overhauls to the system took 7 and then 17 years to implement. Also, there is coverage to pay benefits out at 100% for another 21+ years given the last funding update analysis.

So, let’s “run the numbers” and “compare” different scenarios to find the best strategy for your situation and your view on any changes in the future.

Maybe I’m too simple. Why should we focus on how most people won’t get all their benefits out of the system. This is negative…the focus should be on how do we educate and inform American’s so they can get the most benefits possible out of the system.

We take the mystery out of this process by showing you your numbers and working with you to create a personalized strategy based on 4 years of intensive research in this area.

Run your numbers to create a strategy….”Get More.”

http://money.msn.com/retirement-plan/news.aspx?feed=AP&date=20120805&id=15415077

Did you take Social Security early?

Many people took Social Security earlier than they wanted because of the recession and unforeseen circumstances.

The rules let you “redo” your Social Security if it has been less than 12 months since y

ou started. Our research shows optimizing Social Security can add many years of longevity to most peoples savings. Take a “second look” and assess whether it makes sense for your to do a redo.http://crr.bc.edu/briefs/who-claimed-social-security-early-due-to-the-great-recession/

Our New Research is Out!

The Journal of Financial Planning just published our research in the April edition.

I’m very proud of this work and want to give you some of my thoughts. I see this research as a large “breakthrough” for retirees and improving financial advice. Overall, the premise of the research is so simple it makes sense! If you get more Social Security, your money will last longer.

1. Deciding when to take Social Security is the largest decision you will make in your life. We showed that this decision adds 2 to 10 years to the length of how long your savings will last depending on your affluence.
2. The amont you have saved doesn’t matter. You should consider a strategy that maximes because it will have a huge impact on your financial situation. Note, the greatest impact is for families that haven’t saved as much. For example, someone who has $200,000 of savings can add +10 years of longevity to their money by maximizing Social Security.
3. This is the first study that addresses Social Security and taxation in the retirement income literature about the “4% rule.” It is crazy to me that there are all these “rules of thumb” that exclude the biggest elements that will impact your retirement strategy…taxes and Social Security.

I’ll post more about the research over time. But, here is the bottom line: 1) if you haven’t started Social Security, definitely spend time learning about creating a smart strategy to get more money, and 2) if you have started Social Security, make sure you withdrawal other saving you have to minimize the taxation of Social Security. We’ve developed tools to help you with this. Also, we can give you some educational pieces or guide you.

People, by carefully integrating Social Security into your financial plan every year can add thousands of dollars back into your pocket.

So, I’m proud to share our research with you and the financial services industry. We worked on this for a long time. I’m hopeful other institutions can use these ideas to help more Americans live better in retirement.

http://www.fpanet.org/journal/HowtheSSClaimingDecisionAffectsPortfolioLongevity/

The sky is NOT falling

Every day we see the media talking about Social Security. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation is being spread about the viability of Social Security. The bottom line is that Social Security is NOT going “belly up” any time soon. Yes, it needs to change, but it is a remarkable program that American’s can continue to rely on.

I recently received a great Fact Sheet from the AARP Policy Institute that talks about the Social Security Trust Fund (http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/public_policy_institute/econ_sec/2012/Social-Security-Whos-Counting-on-It-fs-252-AARP-ppi-econ-sec.pdf).

As reported by AARP and the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust fund can pay out 100% of benefits through 2036. Let’s do the math…2036 minus 2012 equals 24 years. If the earliest you can file is 62, let’s subtract 24 from 62 which equals 38. So, according to real data and actuarial projections, there is enough money to pay 100% of benefits for someone that is 38 years old or older.

Note, it is clear that change will be need to Social Security. However, the “sky is not falling.” In our book, we say that individuals over the age of 55 are likely to not be impacted by impending changes. This is consistent with other experts and academics that study Social Security.

The bottom line is that regardless of your beliefs of the future of Social Security, do some calculations to see the difference between claiming strategies. You will shocked at the differences. Make an informed decision and you may be able to find thousands of more dollars to support you in retirement.

Overall, I’ll leave you with one more thought. Remember the last 2 major Social Security overhauls were in 1977 and 1983. In both cases, it took 7 and 17 years, respectively, from the time the changes were announced to the time they were implemented.

My personal belief is that if you are over 55, you won’t be impacted. Even if a change is announced, it is going to take some time before it is rolled out to all Americans. Sign up for our service to run your numbers. Also, sign up for our newsletter so we can keep you informed of the status of Social Security funding levels.

Welcome

On behalf of our team, welcome to our site. We are proud to bring you services that will help you “Get More” Social Security.

Dr. Bill Reichenstein, from Baylor University, and I have worked for many years to develop the research, published in the Journal of Financial Planning, that underlies our technology.

Our mission is to help you maximize your retirement benefits! This is a very important decision and you won’t be able to change your strategy in the future.  Within seconds you will receive a “recommendation” from us that will show you how to get the most amount of benefits.  However, this is just a place to start. Our interactive tools will allow you to create and personalize other strategies that you believe are good for you.

My advice to you is “compare.”  Come in and look at our recommendation and also compare it to other strategies.  You will have the diagnostics and tools to see the difference in benefits and income one strategy will give you over another strategy.

There are a lot of rules and complexity. Register for our service so we can help you and make it easy to see the difference between claiming strategies. Again, our goal is simple…”get more” benefits.  So, don’t leave money on the table.  Come and receive your Recommended Solution and read our educational content to make the best decision possible for your situation.

Best of Luck, Bill