We do extensive Social Security analysis before making any recommendation for when and how a couple should file for Social Security. We wish Social Security workers did the same.
Most people file for Social Security in the worst way possible. The monetary difference between the best and worst strategies for Social Security filing is enormous, in the range of $152,000 to $218,594 .
When most of country makes the worst possible decision, costing them up to a fifth of a million dollars, it is obvious that the service we get from Social Security workers is lacking. They recommend strategies that minimize benefits for retirees, not to maximize them. To make matters worse, Social Security workers often provide answers which are simply factually incorrect. Were Social Security a private company there would be Congressional hearings and class action lawsuits. Instead the program steals our chance of being a millionaire.
This Reuters article, “Advisors Save Clients From Costly Mistakes By Social Security Workers”, voices the same frustration:
Getting wrong answers from Social Security is not unusual, according to financial advisors and experts on claiming strategies. Relying on this misinformation can lead to missing out on benefits for which you qualify or losing opportunities to maximize your checks.
“Forty percent of what the good folks at Social Security tell you, almost always with great certitude, is either outright wrong, partially wrong, incomplete, or confused,” said economist Laurence Kotlikoff, co-author of the best-selling book Get What’s Yours: Secrets to Maximizing Your Social Security…
Social Security has thousands of rules and claiming strategies that can be hard to grasp, which leads people to misunderstand what representatives tell them.
The workers in Social Security offices are only trained and licensed to give advice on certain subjects. Every Social Security worker is trained to help you file for benefits at age 62 and this is what most people do. But you have to ask for someone who is specifically allowed to tell you how to file and suspend your own benefits and file as a spouse, receiving half of your spouse’s benefits in the meantime.
Social Security is very complex. But getting it right is extremely important. Most Americans, and often the ones who can least afford it, make the exact wrong decision and end up hundreds of thousands of dollars poorer as a result.
Take the time to find a comprehensive financial advisor who can and will do the analysis and get you the right answer.
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.