Social Security retirement benefits have become an integral part of financial and retirement planning for most Americans. According to a recent report by the Trustees of the Social Security program, 54 million people received some type of Social Security benefit last year, totaling over $700 billion. And these numbers are likely to increase over the next 15–20 years, as Baby Boom generation clients retire.
Although an ideal retirement scenario does not depend solely on Social Security, the importance of Social Security as part of a comprehensive retirement plan cannot be ignored. To effectively counsel clients, therefore, advisers must be aware of what the Social Security program can and cannot do.
This guide is a practical resource that blends information and planning guidance by providing actual client questions and their respective responses. It includes important tips that you can use in your practice right away.
Actual client questions featured in the guide include
At what age can I begin collecting social security benefits?
What happens if I retire and start collecting social security retirement benefits, then go back to work later?
Will my social security retirement benefits be reduced because of my self-employment income?
Should I start collecting benefits at age 62 or wait until age 66 or 70?
When can, or should, my spouse begin taking the spousal benefit?
Are there any special considerations for widows and widowers?
There are many resources that provide Social Security facts or advice, including those from the Social Security Administration. However, few are oriented towards professionals seeking to offer guidance to clients. This guide will be a valuable tool to use in giving your clients advice on Social Security benefits and how to integrate those benefits into a well-rounded retirement plan.
The Adviser's Guide to Social Security is available free in electronic format to Personal Financial Planning (PFP) Section members. Click here to access your copy. For more information about the PFP Section, click here. For PFP Section membership information, click here.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Theodore J. Sarenski, CPA/PFS, CFP®
Ted is the principal author of this guide. He is the president and CEO of Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC. More than 30 years as a CPA and more than 20 years as a financial planner, plus extensive experience in individual taxation and estate planning, enable him to bring a unique dimension to wealth management. In addition to working directly with clients, Ted is recognized locally and nationally as a financial planning expert. He speaks regularly at conferences across the country and appears weekly on local television. He serves as chair of AICPA’s PFP Executive Committee Elder Planning Task Force and also is active in the New York State Society of CPAs. The AICPA PFP Division nominated him for the 2010 Distinguished Service Award for contributions to the profession.
Elaine Floyd, CFP®
The client questions and adviser responses included in the guide were provided by Elaine Floyd, director of retirement and life planning for Horsesmouth, LLC, a New York-based company that provides training and professional development services for financial advisers. Previously, she was a financial adviser for a major wire house, having obtained her CFP® designation in 1986. More than 20 years ago, she began studying the Social Security system to unravel some of the mysteries of how benefits are calculated. In addition to speaking and consulting on Social Security planning, she writes articles on financial planning for an audience of some 20,000 financial advisers. She has written several books and many articles on Baby Boomer retirement and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal.
In cooperation with the AICPA Personal Financial Planning (PFP) Division, the AICPA PFP Executive Committee Elder Planning Task Force, and the AICPA Private Company Practice Section.