William Meyer, Founder and CEO of Social Security Solutions recently testified before this committee and we felt it worthy of summarizing for our readers. The purpose of the hearing was to examine the Government Accountability Office’s recent review of the extent to which Americans understand Social Security rules affecting their retirement benefits and the information the Social Security Administration provides applicants about claiming retirement benefits. We will recap in bullet points his testimony:
- It is important to note that every service our firm provides the Social Security Administration could provide.
- The rules are very complicated, and resources such as the SSA Program Operations Manual (used by employees) are not intuitive.
- Currently the Social Security Administration is providing neither the “right” nor “enough” information for someone to make an informed decision.
- No cumulative lifetime benefits are provided. This would better equip an individual in making the decision to file early or later.
- Additionally, all benefits a person is entitled to are not included in a person’s statement. It excludes spousal benefits and survivor benefits. Putting all benefits together and showing trade-offs between claiming strategies changes claiming behavior as more individuals better understand the merits of one strategy over another as they compare and evaluate their options.
- Currently, Social Security Administration rules do not allow agents to give advice on how to claim benefits. The policy states an agent can only give information, but no guidance. Note that claiming Social Security is the largest financial decision 99% of Americans make in their lifetimes. Americans are making an irrevocable decision with limited information, and no one at the Social Security Administration is allowed to help them explore their options.
- According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in their June 2016 report, the Social Security Administration’s core operating budget has been reduced by 10% over the past six years, at a time when the numbers of American’s needing services are at an all-time high. This has left the Administration with too few resources to deliver essential services.
- My research shows that we can make someone’s retirement last between 2 to 10 years longer by maximizing Social Security. Choosing how and when to begin Social Security benefits is a huge decision and is the cornerstone for retirement security. The Social Security Administration could make some simple changes to help more Americans live better in retirement.
And readers, this is why we founded Pillars, LLC, to assist Americans with this decision. We are truly passionate about teaching, reaching and assisting individuals in making this basically permanent decision. There are currently six, licensed National Social Security Advisors in the Mississippi area – 3 in Biloxi, one in Ridgeland and 2 in Corinth that are trained and seasoned to assist you with this decision.