The month of December for most of us is immersed in celebrations, pageant’s, football, parades, writing and mailing Christmas cards, decorating, cooking, parties and family. We are all over the top BUSY – BUSY and actually anticipate the colder, slower month of January to simply re-load. Don’t get me wrong, we all love Christmas and the meaning behind that special day, but we just over commit. Take lots of pictures as these memories fly by in a brief moment!
Having said that, January is also the month most folks start pulling out their tax receipts, 1099’s, W-2’s and other year-end compilations. This is a good thing as April 15th quickly roars its head. If nearing retirement, may we also encourage you to look at your Social Security statements? First of all, your Earnings History must be accurate as these numbers affect your PIA (primary insurance amount) for life. Also, the numbers presented on this statement are not your only options. Timing, flexibility, and the application of rules that apply to your situation could change your benefit amount.
Whether married, divorced, single, disabled or widowed, this message is for you. There are different rules for each situation, and people are in different categories based on their ages. Combining these differences is complicated, but a welcome challenge if this is your area of expertise. WHY – because in most cases, there is a better choice which equals improved cash flow.
Check for errors in your Social Security statements – in 2016 alone, the SSA processed 92,000 complaints about mistakes found in statements. Remember, that your benefit amount is based on your top 35 years of inflation-adjusted earnings, so if these numbers are wrong, your benefit amount will not be accurate.
When you file for your Social Security benefit, that decision has potential repercussions for your spouse as well, not only while you are living, but for your spouse’s Survivor benefit. Your benefit filing also has repercussions that include family members qualified to share in your benefits. Your benefits should be reviewed collectively, not individually – this is our area of expertise. Remember that when one of you dies, only one check remains. If by simply planning you can improve this amount for the rest of your spouse’s life, why would you not do this? The answer to this question is simple – a lack of knowledge regarding the rules and regulations that apply to Social Security benefits.
People who were born after January 1, 1954, will be “deemed” to apply for any 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.
Social Security benefits for divorced spouses remains a fertile area where strategic claiming strategies can make a big difference in retirement benefit planning and future income for these spouses – not just women, men as well.
In agreement with the Social Security laws, there are Spousal Benefits, Family Benefits, Divorced Benefits, and Survivor Benefits, all not included on your annual Social Security statement. If you don’t know the questions to ask, how do you expect to get the answers you need or the benefit you deserve?
Do yourself a favor next year and make this one of your priorities. You take your taxes to a professional and you get a better end result – do the same with your Social Security benefit – it is for the rest of your life.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, on their website at www.pillarsllc.com or call at 601-954-0699. KNOW before you GO!!