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  • Writer's pictureStephen Griffin

Do This, Not That: Common Social Security Mistakes

Social Security is an important benefit for Americans—and yet, many do not fully understand the strategy that goes into managing Social Security income. The Harris Poll and the Nationwide Retirement Institute recently found that only 54% of Americans who are not receiving Social Security say they understand how to maximize their benefits—and only 6% know all of the factors that determine their maximum benefit.

But, it’s not too late. If you are one of the many Americans not yet receiving Social Security benefits, take this opportunity to maximize your benefits and avoid costly mistakes by knowing what to do (and what not to do).

Do This: Ask For Help

Consulting with a trusted money management practitioner before claiming Social Security benefits is in your best interest. They can help you optimize your income and plan your optimal claiming strategy.

Not that: Planning your Social Security strategy without advice from a trusted advisor may lead to missing out on maximum benefits.

Do This: Consider Spousal Benefits

If you are or were married, you may be eligible for spousal Social Security benefits—which are based on the work history of your spouse rather than your own. This can provide major financial support for married couples, and relief to widow(er)s many years down the line. If you have the highest benefit, delay claiming as long as you can to receive your maximum benefit.

Not that: By not considering your spouse when claiming payments, you miss out on opportunities that may benefit your spouse in the long run.

Do This: Think Big Picture

While many Americans take Social Security at full retirement age, if you believe your life expectancy will be shortened, it may be worth considering taking your benefits before retirement. Finances, anticipated tax brackets, and the health of you and your spouse all play a role in your decision.

Not that: If you don’t weigh the optimal time to take benefits, you may wind up with a financial plan that no longer makes sense for you.

Do This: Read the Fine Print

Always read the statements from Social Security—this is how you can check your contributions and your company’s dues.

Not that: By avoiding these statements, you may also miss a scammer. These identity thieves can use your Social Security number to access your loan money.

Do This: Account for Cost-of-Living Adjustments

Your Social Security payment is adjusted annually for inflation to make sure that benefits maintain maximum purchasing power. This adjustment—abbreviated COLA—tracks consumer prices over a variety of household goods and services.

Not that: Forgetting about COLA while calculating when you should claim Social Security may mean that you will miss out on your maximum benefit.

Do This: Start Planning Early

Americans should start planning for Social Security in their 50s. This is the optimal time to decide important factors, like when you want to retire and how you want to invest.

Not that: Waiting to plan Social Security may lead to less financial flexibility in retirement.

Questions? We're Here to Help.

Navigating the ins and outs of Social Security can be confusing—but there’s no need to do it alone. Contact us here to speak with a member of our team today.

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