“A Proposal of Pandemic Proportions”

April 13, 2021

Once a year, I try to take a vacation somewhere warm, in hopes that some sunny beaches, sand in my hair, and the sound crashing waves on the shore will help shake loose some of the stresses and burdens of going through another Ohio winter. Of course, 2020 was an exception, but I made up for it in 2021 by scheduling a trip to beautiful Savannah, GA. If you have never been to Savannah, I would highly recommend it! Savannah is a very clean, gorgeous city, jam-packed with lots of fun things to do, including night-time haunted tours of the city, horse & carriage rides, wineries, and some of the finest beaches in the country. And, if you’re looking for a place to stay, I would also recommend the Forsyth Inn, which is located directly across from a very well-known park in Savannah called, Forsyth Park. The Forsyth Park will forever be a very special place in my heart, not only because we had such a fun time there, but because it’s actually where I proposed to my girlfriend, and I’m elated to say she said, YES!!

We affectionately refer to the proposal as our “Pandemic Proposal”, not only because I proposed during a global pandemic, but in many ways, the Pandemic brought us even closer together. Most importantly, the pandemic allowed us to spend more time together, spend more time with our families, focus on our heath, as well as provide us many unique experiences we will never forget. However, the Pandemic also provided us the fiscal stimulus, or “Stimmy” as it is being called, which allowed us to start our wedding fund. In fact, the money was received just a few days after President Biden actually signed the monumental $1.9 trillion dollar piece of legislation into law. Not everyone received their stimulus money so fast. According to the IRS, stimulus checks were delayed for approximately 30 million Americans who were not required to file taxes because they made less than $15,000. Ironically, the people who needed the stimulus most were the individuals and families who received it last, families whose only source of income is Social Security and other government programs.

Social Security will impact every single American’s life at some point, which is why it is one of the hottest financial topics of all time. To the average household in America, Social Security accounts for approximately 40% of the household’s pre-retirement earned income. Additionally, the average retiree over her lifetime will collect over $600,000 from Social Security. As you can see, whether you’re already receiving, about to start collecting, or 5 years away from collecting, Social Security can be a vitally important part of a person’s retirement income plan. That is why the advisors at America’s Retirement Headquarters make it our mission to help ensure our clients receive every dollar they’ve earned from the program. One way to help do just that is to start collecting benefits at, or after your Full Retirement Age (FRA). Your FRA is the age at which you will receive your full Social Security benefit. When is your FRA? Well, it used to be 65, but has steadily increased over time as longevity and life expectancy has increased. For instance, if you were born between 1943 and 1954, your FRA increases gradually from 66 until age 67 is reached, so that anyone born after 1960 will collect their full Social Security benefit at age 67. Therefore, unless a client cites poor health, or potential for a shortened life expectancy, we typically will advocate that they strongly consider waiting until till full retirement age is reached to start collecting benefits. Secondly, by delaying taking Social Security, you can receive a 7 to 8% annual “delayed credit”, which increases your benefit until age 70.

The other topic we get asked a lot is, “what about married couples, when should they start collecting?” While we deal with these types off strategies and questions on a daily basis, the answers to these questions are seldom simple since everyone’s financial situation, expenses, life expectancy, and earnings records are different. However, one universal fact is that generally speaking, one spouse can choose to collect either their own benefit, or half of their spouse’s benefit. Similar to individual benefits, spousal benefits are also reduced depending on the age at which the spouse whose earnings record is being used to calculate spousal benefits on starts collecting. I should also mention that in addition to spousal benefits, the Advisor’s at America’s Retirement Headquarters can also advise you on how to collect widower’s benefits, disability benefits, survivor’s benefits, and divorced benefits. So, if you fall into one of those categories, give the advisors at America’s Retirement Headquarters a phone call today to help ensure you receive your maximum benefit. The first thing we will suggest you do is go to www.ssa.gov to download a copy of your most recent Social Security statement. Armed with that information, the advisors at America’s Retirement Headquarters will develop for you a customized collection strategy which takes income consideration all your personal details such as, your FRA and your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). Your PIA is the benefit you would receive by waiting to start taking Social Security benefits at your full retirement age. Our goal is to provide you a Social Security collection strategy that both maximizes your lifetime benefits, while at the same time requires the least amount of money necessary to retire comfortably.

As you can see, making the decision when to begin taking Social Security is a very complex and sophisticated issue that should not be taken lightly. The impact of your decisions regarding Social Security could have long-lasting, irreparable effects on your retirement income plan. To help ensure you collect every dollar of Social Security you’re entitled to, as well as ensure you retire the way you want – when you want, give the advisors at America’s Retirement Headquarters a phone call. We stand ready with the tools, the technology, and the talent to make your retirement dreams a reality!

Chaz Price, CFP®