Social Security is one of the most complex government run benefit programs that touches every U.S. citizen in one way or another. Often referred to as a Ponzi scheme (and justifiably so), if you expect to win at this game you need to get in early and stay as long as you can.
Hardly anything in OASDI (Old Age Survivors and Disability Income) program is more confusing than spousal and survivor benefits. Two new books and a website can help you get answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.
Get the most out of your Social Security
Most advisers today say wait as long as you can to start your benefits. That means waiting until age 70 to begin drawing your check.
You can start as early as age 62 but baby boomers like myself must wait until age 66 before we have reached what Social Security terms our “normal retirement age”.
The Wall Street Journal advises, “getting smart about Social Security can put tens of thousands of extra dollars in your pocket”. They recommend two books, one new, one updated, to bring you up to speed on getting what is rightly yours.
The Social Security Handbook has 2,728 rules for determining your benefits. If that isn’t enough there is POMS (Program Operating Manual System) to explain how to implement the rules.
Or you can get Laurence Kotlikoff’s book “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security” and buzz through 300 pages. In there you will pick up gem’s like this in the section “25 Bad-News Gotchas That Can Reduce Your Benefits Forever.”
“If you get divorced just one day shy of 10 years, neither you nor your spouse will collect a dime in spousal or survivor benefits.” – WSJ
That’s going to leave a mark.
Assuming you even thought about this question, you could find it easily with Google. Here’s the answer.
If you have a surviving divorced spouse, he or she could get the same benefits as your widow or widower provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more. – SSA
But in the midst of divorce, and even if you have thought about your (soon to be ex) dying, SS benefits are probably the furthest thing from your mind.
The benefit of books like this is, it prompts you to think about questions and solutions you never considered before.
If you don’t want to read 300 pages you can pick up the 2nd book mentioned in the WSJ by Jim Blankenship, “Social Security Owners Manual”.
Why not ask the folks at Social Security?
Did you really ask that?
For many people, SS benefits comprise a large part of their retirement financial plan. Doesn’t it make sense to do it right from the start?
If you are not a reader and want to pass on “Get What’s Yours”, you should consider a comprehensive website by the same author.
Maximize My Social Security is available to consumers for a $40 annual fee. That is a small price to pay when it comes to analyzing and predicting your retirement income possibilities.
Plug in your information and in seconds the software analyzes numerous combinations of retirement scenarios. Here is a summation of what you get with your license.
Maximize My Social Security ask for the right inputs—all the right inputs and then, under its hood, its advanced algorithms consider thousands and often tens of thousands of alternative claiming strategies in suggesting the best strategy—the one that delivers the highest lifetime benefits. In the case of married couples, the program suggests joint claiming strategies since what one spouse does will affect what the other can do and vice versa. For widowed and divorced widowed households, the program suggests the best order in which to take widow(er) and retirement benefits. For divorced workers, the program considers when to take spousal and retirement benefits. And for households with children who qualify for benefits, the program incorporates if and when the parents should collect spousal with child in care as well as mother’s and father’s benefits.
The program goes far beyond any calculations that Social Security itself can make. For privacy and other reasons, Social Security’s calculators are not set up to jointly optimize over the claiming decisions of your or any household.
Maximizing your retirement health care dollars
Along with maximizing your Social Security benefts, retirees need to learn how to maximize their retirement health care dollars.
Most of us just took what our employers offered, grumbled that it wasn’t good enough and cost too much and then went on. When you turn 65 you finally get to pick your own plan. One that meets your needs and budget.
Sadly, too many make poor choices and don’t realize it until it is too late.
I have spent 40 years designing health insurance plans for corporations and individuals and I believe I understand what it’s all about. But a few years ago when I was looking toward turning 65 it was time for me to learn about Medicare, not just for myself, but my clients. Many of them would be turning 65 and going on Medicare and I knew they would turn to me for advice.
The first time I read through the Medicare manual I thought I must have had a brain freeze. Hardly any of it made sense. It took about 3 weeks of reading and re-reading the material plus talking to some very wise brokers in the Medicare market before the light bulb came on.
I am not dumb, but if it took me that long to understand the basics of Medicare, how much more difficult is it for those who haven’t studied health insurance for 40 years?
Georgia Medicare Plans specializes in Medigap and Medicare Part D coverage. We ask each potential client about their medical history, prescription drug history and doctors before ever making a recommendation. If you are turning 65 your decisions are even more crucial because you get only ONE initial enrollment period. After that you can change supplement plans at any time as long as you are in good health.
As a baby boomer going on Medicare in September, 2015 I have a unique perspective over most other agents that contact you. I have no problem telling you which plan and carrier I will pick and why it may or may not be right for you.
With more than 170 different Medigap plans, how do you find the right one?
We can help. Others talk, we listen.
Instant GA Medigap quotes online.
We NEVER sell your information!
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