Husband says “NOW”

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Believe it or not, we get calls from wives that are concerned about their husbands knowledge of Social Security laws. Because we are in 5 state newspapers, depending on the article, these calls are frequent. This might be because women are reading the articles we write more thoroughly and this causes them to question. Whatever the reason, we are thankful for the calls because on many occasions their concern was legitimate.

This is a real example just the names have been changed:

Larry – age 66.0 months and Full Retirement Benefit amount is $2500.00

Evelyn – age 64.3 months and Full Retirement Benefit amount is $1250.00

Larry wants to file now – they may need the additional income. If Larry files at Full Retirement Age (FRA) and Evelyn files at age 64 and 3 months, their lifetime benefit (85 him/88 her based on national averages) will be $984,537.05. Larry will draw his FRA (full retirement age) benefit amount and Evelyn’s will be reduced for taking early to $1110.00. The thing they may or may not have realized was that the Survivor Benefit will be reduced by over $783.00 per month in comparison to other options that were presented.

But what if?

Evelyn files at 64 and 4 months for a reduced benefit amount of $1,067.00 per month. Why 64 and 4 months? Because this opens up the opportunity for Larry to file a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits from Evelyn’s benefit in the amount of $600.00. At 68 and 3 months

Evelyns is able to file for Spousal Benefits off Larry in the amount of $1,117.00 and at age 70

Larry files for full benefit that has improved by 8% per year for 4 years in the amount of $3,300.00. Also, their Survivor Benefit has improved to a maximum of $3,300.00 per month vs. $2500.00.

This is only one of many options available to this couple, but we are presenting the best and the worst. You take if from there – remember you do have options, over and above what your Social Security statement reflects.

Social Security is complicated and the Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2015 only made the system more complicated. Don’t leave this benefit to chance – professional review is recommended in all situations.

Call us at 601-954-0699 (located in Corinth, MS but serve all 50 states) or email us at for more information. Website is Roy and Diane are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of over 40 years.

Is Waiting until Age 70 our Best Option?

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This is a typical family story we hear quite often – my wife and I have wonderful careers, we love our jobs, are in good health, and plan to both wait until age 70 to draw the maximum benefit on our Social Security.

Good choice/bad choice? In most cases, not a good decision.


Joseph is 68 years old and Betty is 66.6 months. Because of the Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2015 changes to the law, and because they were both born before 1954, if one spouse files for their benefit, the other spouse is entitled to file a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits. How will this make a difference? Joseph’s benefit amount is $2500 at FRA. Betty’s benefit is $1800 at FRA. If they both wait to file until age 70, their benefit amount through life expectancy (85 his/88 hers based on national averages) is $1,249,776.00.

If they utilize a Restricted Application, giving Betty an income of $1250 from age 66.6 – 70, she can still work without Earning Limitations, and Joseph will be drawing Full Benefit Amount for a combined income of $3750; he can still continue to work, their benefit amount through life expectancy will be $1,287,276.00. A difference of $37,500. And the Survivor Benefit remains the highest available.

And, this is only one way to figure this scenario. Here is another:

Betty could have filed for her benefit and Joseph file a Restricted Application from her benefit. This would have allowed $2700 in income that would not have been realized waiting until age 70, their benefit amount through life expenctancy would be $1 263,024.00 , they both could have continued working, and the Survivor Benefit would have remained the highest available.

Why would they choose the lower income route? Maybe because of taxes or other financial situations. That, my folks, is the beauty of a PLAN and having choices. We could write about case after case where people were afforded the beauty of an income stream, improving their benefit amount through life expectancy, and increasing their Survivor Benefit; simply because of professional review.

Social Security has so many options that people are not aware of. You can email us at or for more information. Our website is We have the experience and knowledge necessary to make an educated decision about these benefits.

Voluntary Suspension of Benefits

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In our world of Social Security and the clients we meet, it is becoming more and more common for clients to proceed with a Voluntary Suspension of their Benefits. What does this mean and why would someone do this?

  1. The option to “voluntarily suspend” refers to a process that is only available after reaching Full Retirement Age and Full Retirement Age is different for each individual based on their date of birth.
  2. In the POMS Manual (Social Security Administration Rules and Regulations) this is explained in POMS GN 02409.100. “Beginning in January 2000, the Senior Citizens’ Freedom to Work Act of 2000, permitted primary beneficiaries who were at Full Retirement Age, but were not yet age 70, to voluntarily suspend payments to earn delayed retirement credits.” Delayed Retirement Credits are 8% per year, for every year you don’t file until age 70. This request can be written or oral and does not have to be signed.
  3. If you elect to Voluntarily Suspend your benefit, please be aware that in the Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2015, new rules were created that will also stop any spousal or other family benefits paid from the suspended account. This is a huge consideration.
  4. People elect to do this for several reasons: they realized that filing prior to Full Retirement Age was not a good decision on their part. Another reason could be that they have gone back to work and they do not need this benefit, and they would rather collect the Delayed Retirement Credits. Another reason might be that he and his spouse have a big differential in their ages, and she could not file off of his benefit until after he started his benefit again at the later age.

EXAMPLE: Tom began his benefits at age 62. His PIA (primary insurance amount) is $2,000. Starting at age 62 reduces his monthly payment to $1500. At his Full Retirement Age, Tom can suspend his benefit. He will earn 2/3 of 1% delayed retirement credit per month until he resumes benefits. If he waits until age 70 to start them again, his monthly payment will be $1,980 – about 99% of his PIA. Remember though, if any auxillary benefits are being paid off this benefit, they will be suspended also.

This option can be tricky if not calculated with all variables taken into consideration. Social Security has so many options that people are not aware of. You can email us at or for more information. Our website is We have the experience and knowledge necessary to make an educated decision about these benefits.

Social Security and Student Loan Debt

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A situation regarding student loan debt has come to our attention again, and thought we would share some insight to this problem. Students, at an alarming rate, are borrowing the maximum amount from the government to pay for their higher education. They are allowed to pay very low monthly fees for these loans over a long extended period of time. In their minds, this means I will just paying for this the rest of my life. Well, guess what?
“Unpaid, federally guaranteed student loans are one of the reasons you can have your disability checks, both Veterans Affairs and Social Security, garnished by the federal government. There are limitations on how much the government can take each month, but they can take the money.” Garnish Disability to Pay Student Loan? Dr. Don Taylor, PhD, CFA, CFP, CASL – Bankrate – Jun 7, 2013.

So, if this debt extends past retirement age, the Federal government is going to garnish a portion of the Social Security you earned for retirement.

In 2008, when so many older adults lost their jobs, many went back to school to get their degrees in an effort to make themselves more marketable. Now some of these folks, that are wanting to retire, are faced with the option of dipping into other assets to get these loans paid off, or having a chunk of their retirement garnished. Not a good situation.


1. Have a heart to heart with your students about how this debt could harm them when they are approaching retirement.
2. Limit the amount they borrow if possible.
3. Pay off this debt as soon as possible. It may hurt for a while, but they will be glad it is off their back.
4. Have them work during college to limit the amount of money needed to borrow.

Can you imagine the amount of money the Federal government will save when all these Millennials are of retirement age, and their benefits are partially garnished?

This benefit is too important not to have it professionally reviewed. We talk to people everyday that wish they could take back the decision they made – simply because of lack of education on the subject. You can email us at or for more information. Our website is

Filing for Benefits and Helpful Tips

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Most of our articles deal with Social Security claiming strategies and how to improve you income stream but thought we would take a break and offer some helpful tips to make the process easier to navigate.

  1. Need your date and place of birth and Social Security number.
  2. Your bank or other financial institution’s Routing Transit Number and your account number as your benefit will be electronically deposited.
  3. The amount of money earned in the last calendar year and what you expect to earn in the year of filing.  If filing in September through December, you will also need to estimate next year’s earnings.
  4. The name and address of your employer(s) for the year of filing and the previous year.
  5. The beginning and ending dates of any active U S. military service you had before 1968.
  6. The name, Social Security number and date of birth of your current spouse and any former spouse.  You should also know the dates and places of marriage and dates of divorce or death if applicable.
  7. A copy of your Social Security statement.  If you don’t have a current one, will need to set up an account at and print out report.

Sometimes the following documents are also requested:

  1. Your original birth certificate or other proof of birth.  
  2. Your original citizenship or naturalization papers, if you were not born in the United States.
  3. A copy of your U. S. military service paper(s) such as DD-214-Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty if you had military service before 1968.
  4. A copy of your W-2 form(s) and or self-employment tax return for the year prior to filing.

Keep these documents together in a folder so they are handy at the time of filing.  If you do not have one of these documents you can still start the process and indicate at the time of filing that you are in the process of securing the requested document.

You can either file on line, over the telephone or in person at your local Social Security office.  If you do this online, you will be given an application number.  Make sure you write this number down in order to access the process again, if incomplete.

When you reach the question about when you want to begin benefits, be careful.  The answer will be automatically populated with a start date.  Unless your selected claiming strategy is to begin benefits on this date, you will need to change the date to reflect your selected strategy.

At the end of the process you will see a summary of your answers and will have the opportunity to edit your responses.  Also, there is an area for remarks where you can enter additional information if necessary.

Remember, this decision is basically permanent.  Just make sure you read what you sign!!  We recommend that our clients go directly to the SS office to file, simply because of errors that can be made online.

With a customized report, you will receive a summary of your options you have chosen, and you can simply hand this to the person at the counter.  This process simply eliminates all confusion about what you are filling for.  You can email us at or for more information.  Our website is

Survivor Benefits – Ouch

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One of the areas we work the hardest for our clients is in the area of Survivor Benefits.  People do not realize that with the proper advice and calculation, that the Survivor Benefit can be improved in most cases by quite a bit.  Remember, in a married couple, when one of you dies, only one check remains – the higher of the two and this will be your benefit for the rest of your life.

Retirement comes with PLANNING – you should not wait until the year before you leave your career to start this process.  Not only do you have to review Medicare options, 401K’s and other assets, but your Social Security benefit.  We preferably like to see our clients about two years before retirement to start the process.  You see, Social Security is really the cornerstone of most people’s retirement plan.  And to take at face value, what you see on your Social Security statement, can be a great loss of revenue to you and your family.

The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) just recently reported that more than 100,000 widows and widowers were underpaid on their benefits.  The objective of this report “was to determine whether the Social Security Administration had adequte controls to establish a correct initial month of entitlement for widower’s benefits”.  As it turns out, it does not.

This is so discerning, because had these individuals had their benefits analyzed prior to filing, this would never have been the case.

When someone dies, people are told by a friend or loved one that one of the first things they need to do is file for that Survivor Benefit.  This may or may not be the appropriate plan of action or in their best interest financially.  Here is a partial listing of some of the issues that can arise with Survivor Benefits:

  1. If working and under Full Retirement Age, you are immediately hit with the Earnings Limitations rule, which limits your income to $16,920 per year (2017).  For ever $2 you earn over this limit, $1 will be withheld from your check.  In otherwords, you may not see one plug nickel of your benefit.  And, we have seen this happen one too many times.
  2. The law changes of November 2, 2015 did not affect Survivor Benefits.  Therefore, you have options, depending on when you file, to improve your lifetime income stream. If you file for the wrong benefit first, you are shortchanging these options.  
  3. If you draw this benefit at age 60 when first available, or 50 if disabled, it will be immediately reduced by 28.5%.  This is a huge reduction when you factor it through life expectancy.
  4. Usually there are life insurance proceeds that can be used prior to tapping into Social Security benefits.

We see many unintentionalmistakes in this area that are costly to the beneficiary – if you know of someone that is recently widowed, please have them call before they file.  They need to know all options along with the proper month of entitlement before fiing.

Remember,  Social Security is a lifetime annuity,  is inflation protected, and has the right of survivorship.  Call us at Pillars, LLC,  601-954-0699 to order your customized report.   Or your can email us at or for more information.  Our website is

Social Security Review before Filing

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Each and every day, we are confronted with choices that can alter our course of life.  Some of these are short term situations, but many are long term situations that we cannot go back and change.  The same with Social Security and the choice you make about your benefit.  Many times, a quick decision cannot be changed.  As we have stated, time after time in previous articles, do not take your Social Security claiming decision lightly….educate yourself and don’t second guess your decision.    For many of us, it is the cornerstone of our retirement roadmap and will determine our quality of life through retirement.

When reviewing your Social Security statement, you have what appears to be three choices….take your benefit at 62 (early), 66 or 67 (standard) or 70 (maximum).  This is just simply, not the case.  There are literally hundreds of different ways to file for your benefit and this is why you need a customized report.  The customized report will provide you with the following:

  1. Charts and graphs showing you exactly how much you, or you and your wife can expect from your benefit from the year you file until your chosen life expectancy.  There will be no questions about how much income will be received….it is all there in black and white.  Because we cannot determine the Cost of Living increase each year, the numbers will actually be a little understated, which is a good thing!!  
  2. It will provide you with claiming strategies such as Restricted and Spousal Boost.  This will give you additional options for retirement so you can plan when to retire, or when to reduce your income level so your benefit will not be affected.
  3. The report will show you your benefit calculation, based on the age you decide to retire….so you can strategically plan for your future without second guessing your decision.  It is hard to put a price tag on peace of mind.
  4. It will show you what the surviving spouse benefit will be depending on the claiming decision you choose.  This amount can dramatically change with the right claiming decision.
  5. It will provide you with many different age scenarios, both for husband and wife, or for a single, widowed or divorced individual, so you can determine what is best for your situation and for your future.
  6. It will show you how to combine your options, to optimize your benefit as a couple.
  7. It will be customized with your information – no generic information from a book that only gives examples.  Anyone can put numbers into a computer program, but will it be a report designed for you or just a generic guess???  
  8. It can show you how to continue working at a reduced salary, collect a benefit and also provide your spouse with a spousal benefit, if that situation exists.
  9. Privacy is key – we do not need your social security number to complete a report, credit card numbers or bank account information.
  10. It will provide you with the asset value of your social security benefit.
  11. The report is simple to understand, and a follow-up interview is provided to make sure you completely understand the material that has been provided.

If you are between the ages of 60-65, please consider a customized report.  It will get you headed in the right direction when making retirement choices.  Remember,  Social Security is a lifetime annuity,  is inflation protected, and has the right of survivorship.  Call us at Pillars, LLC,  601-954-0699 to order your customized report.   Or your can email us at or for more information.  Our website is

Divorced Exception to the Rule

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We received a phone call this week from a lady that wanted some clarification about something she had heard – this is a red flag to us because most of what people HEAR is fake news or not a legitimate rule of Social Security.  Anyway, she had been married for 8 years, divorced, and two years later married the same gentleman and that lasted 6 years.  She wanted to draw a Spousal Benefit from his benefit and HEARD that you had to be married 10 years to qualify.

Well – she was accurate about the 10 years, but it must be consecutive ten years.  The rule is worded as follows:

The standard divorce rules for Social Security say that if an individual was married for at least ten years to their spouse and then divorced, he or she is eligible to collect spousal benefits on the earnings of the ex-spouse as long as the recipient is currently single.

10 Year Rule:

This requirement is met if the divorce became final on or after the 10th anniversary of the marriage. This is so even if this period was interrupted by a prior divorce, provided the remarriage took place no later than the calendar year immediately following the calendar year of the divorce.

So, had she remarried the same gentleman within one year of the divorce, the exception to the rule would qualify her for benefits.  Unfortunately, this was not the case in her situation.

Again, be careful of what you hear and what you read.  Most of our readers take their taxes to an expert for be prepared because they get a better result.  Why?  Because these professionals are experts in their field and know the tax law.  Consider the same for your Social Security benefit.  Knowing the rules and regulations can offer you options that you were not aware existed. Why?  Because we are knowledgeable of the 2,728 rules and regulations.

Call Pillars LLC at 601-954-0699 and Roy and Diane will help you with these decisions and show you how to maximize your benefit and accomplish your personal goals.  They are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of 40+ years.  We are in Corinth but service all 50 states.

Do-Over Case Study

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We receive many phone calls from people that want to know if they made a mistake when they filed for Social Security. They either read an article, or someone told them another about a way to file and they start questioning their decision. These phone calls are sometimes very hard because unfortunately some of them did have better options. And, for them to get out of the snare they have elected is a tough and costly remedy.  There is a one-year Do-Over period, but all the benefit monies received by you and others (yours, spousal, and family) must be paid back.

Thought we would share an actual client example of a positive Do-Over:

  1. Husband was born in 1950 and had not started drawing his benefit.  His Full Retirement benefit amount at age 66 was $2600 per month.
  2. Wife was born in 1952 and had started drawing her benefit at age 63 at $220 per month.
  3. He wanted to start benefits at age 67 and wanted us to provide him with options.
  4. As it turned out, the wife had only been receiving her benefit for 5 months so she would have to pay back $1265.00 to start her filing process over.  Remember, this was because she was within the one year window for D0-Over.
  5. We discussed many other options, but they wanted to proceed with the Do-Over.
  6. So, wife filed the necessary forms, (SS Form 521) and paid back her $1265.00.
  7. Husband filed for his benefit at age 67 in the amount of $2684.00 like he had originally planned.
  8. Wife filed a Restricted application for Spousal Benefits at age 66 in the amount of $1,290.00.  An increase of $1,070.00 per month over her original filing.  
  9. This was a total increase in their benefits through life expectancy of $201,249.00.
  10. So instead of their monthly income being $2904.00 it increased to $3974.00.  Quite the difference!

This does not happen every day, but the point is that due to the lack of knowledge about the rules and regulations, this couple was headed down a path that severely shortchanged their retirement income.  

Social Security is complicated folks, and you need to know the rules and regulations before you file, or better yet, have an analysis prepared that will show you all available options.  Then you take the option summary you choose to the Social Security office and file.  Had they contacted us several months later, this would not have been an option for them.

Call Pillars LLC at 601-954-0699 and Roy and Diane will help you with these decisions and show you how to maximize your benefit and accomplish your personal goals.  They are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of 40+ years.  We are in Corinth but service all 50 states.

Be Careful What You Read

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I am sitting at my desk just shaking my head.  I have just read five articles from highly acclaimed financial spokespersons or firms and each of them contained wrong information about Social Security claiming strategies or benefits.  Not little errors either – errors, that if followed, would have cost the retiree a lot of money over their lifetime.  On a daily basis, we receive news links from all over the nation, and it is so discouraging to realize that John Q Public is reading this as well, and thinking it is factual.

Some of these errors include:

  1. Full Retirement age is 65 – so very wrong!!  It is 66-67 depending on your date of birth.  This error can be costly in so many areas of filing.  Age 65 is when you file for Medicare.
  2. For a married couple, the higher earner should file first.  WOW – this again can be so WRONG in many cases.  It is a numbers game that needs to be analyzed to determine this decision.  Remember,  every Social Security scenario is different – there is no ONE SIZE fits all to any of these questions.
  3. At age 70 your benefit will automatically switch to your benefit if higher.  Again, WRONG.  You must fill out another application and many clients thinking this is automatic have missed out on months of higher earnings.
  4. File early and take the money and invest it.  Sounds like a good plan, but, how many people will do this?  Also, what about the Earnings Limitations if still working, what about reducing your Survivor Benefit?  Bad advice in most cases.  Also, remember that your Social Security benefit grows by 8% each year you wait to file after Full Retirement Age.
  5. Widows should draw their Survivor Benefit as soon as possible to maximize their income potential.  Again, in most cases this is bad advice.  Widows have many different options and the Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2015 did not impede their multiple options.  Please, please, this is an area where we see so many mistakes.  Widows can draw their benefit first, they can take their Survivor benefit, they can leave them all alone to grow in value – just because a benefit is available does not mean it is in your best interest to draw it.
  6. Waiting until age 70 is always the best option.  Again, this is not true.  If married and you are both age 62 prior to January 2, 2016, waiting until age 70 will lose you money.  To give you a short summary, this is because you are eliminating claiming strategies that will provide one of you with income between ages 66-70 and allow the other party to let their benefit to grow at 8% per year.  

Remember readers, there are 2,728 rules and regulations involved in Social Security law and most of the laws have exceptions to the rule.  Professional review and advice will clear the way for a better retirement income stream and give you the peace of mind that you have made the best decision available based on the law.

Call Pillars LLC at 601-954-0699 and Roy and Diane will help you with these decisions and show you how to maximize your benefit and accomplish your personal goals.  They are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of 40+ years.  They are in Corinth but service all 50 states.