The Shifting Retirement Age

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In 1935, the original retirement age for Full Benefits was set at age 65. Why age 65? First, life expectancy in 1935 was at or about age 61, therefore the odds of collecting Social Security was slim to none. Secondly, Germany had the first Social Security system and that was the age they had chosen – so maybe the United States just wasn’t original. Thirdly, the Social Security Historian’s office stated that since railroad pensions and other state systems’ used age 65, it was a practical actuarial choice.

Whatever the reason, 65 remained the Full Retirement Age until 1983 when there were amendments to the Social Security Act. The explanations for the change were that people were living longer and that by raising the full retirement age saved the SSA money, putting the program on a sounder financial footing.

Then, in 1956, age 62 was introduced as the EARLY retirement age for women and the same was extended to men in 1961. This is retained in the present law; however, benefits are cut for taking early.

We still see people filing at age 62 each day – because they are eligible they take the benefit. By doing this, they usually do not realize the consequences – reducing their benefit from 25-30%, eliminating claiming strategies that improve their income stream, reducing the Survivor Benefit, having to deal with Earnings Limitations if still working to name just a few. These are serious consequences that can in most cases be eliminated with just a little planning and flexibility.

The Social Security office is there to take your order based on your benefit amount. Their job is not to look at your benefits and give you advice about the best way to file. With very few exceptions, people do not realize that the Social Security office does not know if you are married, single, divorced, if your ex-spouse was drawing disability, if you have two children under the age of 18, if you also worked for the railroad and have a different set of rules to follow, if you had another job that did not require you to pay SS taxes, if you are entitled to a Spousal Boost or claiming strategy, and the list goes on. You need to have all these questions answered and your options calculated before going to file.

Pillars LLC is in the Corinth, MS area but service all 50 states. Roy and Diane are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of over 40 years. You may contact them at, on their website at or call at 601-954-0699. KNOW before you GO!!

Be Careful What You Read

Posted on by hgasaway Leave a comment

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.


2016 Year-End Housekeeping for Social Security

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As we wind up 2016, there are several items you might want to look at with regard to Social Security:

  1. Check for errors in your Social Security statements – in 2016 the SSA processed 92,000 complaints about mistakes found in Social Security statements. Officially, you have to correct errors within 3 years, 3 months and 15 days following the year of the mistake. You will need to prove what you have earned to have the SSA correct your record; a W-2, a tax return or pay stubs will suffice as evidence.
  2. Don’t get caught off guard by not knowing your Full Retirement Age. This will affect how much of your benefit you will receive, based on how early you will retire.
  3. When you take your Social Security benefit has repercussions for your spouse as well, not only while you are still living, but their Survivor benefits as well.   Your situation should be reviewed collectively, not individually. This is our expertise.
  4. People who were born after January 1, 1954, will be “deemed” to apply for all available benefits when they file for Social Security and will be paid the higher of the two amounts. But, “deemed filing” does not apply to Survivor Benefits. This is a HUGE missed opportunity if not filed for at the right time. TIMING is critical in all Social Security decisions.
  5. Social Security benefits for divorced spouses remains a fertile area where strategic claiming strategies can make a big difference in retirement income planning.
  6. The Earnings Limitations will increase in 2017 to $16,920 and the year you reach Full Retirement Age will increase to $44,880. Now, if you don’t understand this, you need to get some advice. If you think you can double-dip with Social Security, think again, unless you are earning under these amounts.
  7. Obviously not every situation is ideal. If you can’t find work for an extended period of time, or you are dealing with long-term health issues, then claiming early could be a smart decision. But, an otherwise healthy individual signing up early for Social Security benefits with little to nothing saved could be a regrettable decision.
  8. Half of your Social Security benefits counts toward your combined income, which includes your adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest. If your combined income reaches a certain threshold – $25,000 for an individual and $32,000 for a married couple filing jointly – you will have to pay income tax on a pro-rated portion up to 85% of your Social Security benefits. Have a professional tax advisor review your overall tax situation.
  9. To get the most from your Social Security benefits, you need a PLAN. You need to start reviewing your situation about two years before making a decision, so the best case scenario can be achieved.
  10. Have a professional review your Social Security situation. These laws are very complicated and just like the tax laws, need professional review and advice. If you don’t know the questions to ask, how can you get the answers you need?

Happy New Year from Pillars LLC

Roy and Diane Thompson are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of 40 years. Their guidance and direction will make a difference for you and your family. You may contact Pillars LLC on our website at or email at or simply give us a call at 601-954-0699. We are located in Corinth, MS but assist clients throughout the United States.