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Is your Social Security strategy to not have a Social Security strategy?

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Have you seen the study where children are allowed to eat a marshmallow but if they can delay eating the marshmallow for a specific amount of time they can have a second marshmallow?  The majority choose to eat the marshmallow they already have in their hot little hands.  Well don’t clap yourself on the back because as an adult you wouldn’t make the same mistake.  Take for instance Social Security benefits. 

Most Social Security strategies are aimed at those who are married, divorced or widowed, but one strategy everyone can use regardless of marital status is to delay collecting for a long as possible.  Technically, you can claim Social Security benefits at age 62.  If you do so, you’ll receive the same amount of benefit for the rest of your life.  If you can delay collecting benefits for even a short time say a year or two you’re likely to receive higher benefits over your lifetime.  Here’s a Kiplinger report explaining why.

If you’re a baby boomer, chances are you haven’t planned how to claim your Social Security benefits.  That’s the results of a survey by Securian Financial Group anyway.  The survey focused on consumers aged 50-65 to determine when and how they’ll claim Social Security benefits and found that less than 20 percent of the respondents had made any Social Security decisions.  Of those who haven’t made any plans, an almost equal number of them haven’t made plans because they don’t believe Social Security will be around for them.  That’s a shocking number of people believing what amounts to an urban myth.

Those individuals choosing to plan their Social Security benefits are more likely to take a more DIY approach according to Investment News.  People looking for assistance with their planning were more likely to use the Social Security website, their local Social Security office, friends and family than they were a financial advisor.  But a financial advisor can help realize specific goals that may be less obvious such as maximizing the amount of money a couple has while both are still alive or creating the biggest survivor benefit for after one spouse dies.  Large financial institutes have taken note of the DIY culture and there are some surprisingly good tools out  there created by just the folks who are hoping you’ll come looking to them for help.  This article on the Wall Street Journal site gives a short list of tools available.

The best time to plan for retirement is before you retire.  Set up a transition that ensures that you don’t throw your retirement planning into chaos.  To do that, you’ll likely need a financial advisor.

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