How to Claim the Most from Your Social Security with Marc Kiner & Jim Blair
How to Claim the Most from Your Social Security Show Notes
Lots of people think that they should start claiming their Social Security on the same day that they retire. However, there’s ample evidence proving otherwise–and when (and how) you choose to take your Social Security can have a big impact on your retirement.
To discuss this, we’ve brought Marc Kiner and Jim Blair back to the podcast. Jim worked for the Social Security Administration for 35 years before he teamed up with Marc, and they now work together to help people determine exactly when to file in order to maximize their benefits.
In this episode, we explore the many different options retirees have when it comes to claiming Social Security. We get into how Social Security is taxed, why different types of retirement income don’t play nice together, and how to put a stop to preventable losses and make the most of this extraordinarily complex program.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- Why there are over 600 different iterations to claim Social Security for the average 62-year-old–and why some of these strategies can help you take home as much as an additional $100,000 in lifetime income.
- Why so many financial advisors don’t understand how Social Security actually works.
- The reason so many men should wait until age 70 to maximize their benefits.
- Why Social Security checks become stagnant when retirees reach Medicare age.
- The surprising reason you may not want to claim your Social Security benefits online.
- “The vast majority of financial advisors and insurance agents just don’t understand how Social Security works.” – Marc Kiner
- “There’s still a lot of good people that work at the Social Security Administration, but you need to do your homework yourself.” – Jim Blair
- Premier Social Security Consulting, LLC
- Barber Financial Group
- America’s Wealth Management Show
- Episode 34: How to Maximize Your Social Security Benefits with Marc Kiner & Jim Blair
- Social Security Website
[00:00:08] Dean Barber: Hello, everybody, I’m Dean Barber, Founder and CEO of Barber Financial Group, your host of The Guided Retirement Show. Back by popular demand, Marc Kiner and Jim Blair. We’re going to be talking about Social Security claiming strategies. And I’ve been talking about this now for over a decade. And it still surprises me that so many people think that the date that they should claim their Social Security is synonymous with the date that they retire.
There are 100,000 reasons why you should stick around for this episode, take notes. And after the show in the show notes, you’ll find a link where you can get a complimentary consultation from one of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professionals to help you make sure that you get the Social Security claimed properly and take advantage of those 100,000 reasons. Enjoy.
[00:00:56] Dean Barber: Back here on The Guided Retirement Show. Marc Kiner and Jim Blair, I would say you guys are somewhat of Social Security experts. You guys joined us in a previous season and one of the most downloaded episodes of The Guided Retirement. So, Marc, welcome back.
[00:01:17] Marc Kiner: Thank you, Dean. Glad to be back.
[00:01:18] Dean Barber: Alright.
[00:01:20] Marc Kiner: Kansas City is my second home.
[00:01:21] Dean Barber: Well, and I understand you’re going to be coming to Kansas City sometime soon. Let’s get Jim on the line here real quick, to get Jim welcome back. Jim, welcome back.
[00:01:29] Jim Blair: Thanks. Glad to be here. And always happy to talk about Social Security. My favorite topic.
[00:01:36] Dean Barber: It is a crazy, interesting topic. So, just for our listeners, people who are watching on YouTube, let’s start, Jim, with you, your background, talk to our listeners about why you’re passionate about Social Security, how you came to work with Marc Kiner, and what it is that you guys are doing.
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[00:01:57] Jim Blair: Sure. Well, just give you an idea. I worked for the Social Security Administration for 35 years and did a number of jobs while I was there, starting off as a service representative. That’s a smile on your face you see when you walk in the front door, like those folks to really help people who are already receiving benefits, maybe they need to change their address.
They were overpaid, have some kind of issue, missing checks, that kind of thing, moved through the painstaking endeavor, was a claims representative for 10 years to claims for retirement survivors, disability and health insurance, and then moved into the management part and spent the last nine years as a district manager of the Piqua, Ohio office. Probably, most everybody out there has gone, what the heck is a Piqua, Ohio, but that’s the real community, about 30 miles north of Dayton, just kind of points out that regardless of where you’re at, there’s probably a Social Security office fairly close. Should you need to visit, it’s the most accessible government office out there.
But after 35 years, I did decide to retire, hang it up, and I had to find something to do. And as it turns out, I lucked out. My nephew knew Marc. Marc happened to ask him who he asked his Social Security questions of, and he mentioned me, and I was getting ready to retire. So, we got together and discussed it and decided we were going to start working with people, couples, individuals, and helping them figure out their strategies when best to file, and how to maximize their Social Security benefits. And we’ve been doing that since 2010, but we also morphed into an education company.
We also educate financial advisors, CPAs, insurance agents about Social Security. We talk to anybody who’s willing to listen about Social Security, whether it’s helping individuals figure out when’s the best time to apply or helping advisors determine the Social Security maze and how they can kind of work through it with their clients.
[00:04:10] Dean Barber: Alright, Jim, perfect. And it’s exciting that you’re doing this as a former employee of the Social Security Administration. And it just goes to show that when we started talking about this on our radio program, America’s Wealth Management Show, all the way back in 2008, there was nobody really talking about the fact that the average couple at 62 years old is going to have north of 600 different iterations on how they can claim their Social Security.
There have obviously been some law changes since that point in time, but it’s still super complex and still the proper Social Security claiming strategies can add $80,000, $90,000, $100,000 or more of additional lifetime income to someone’s pocket with the exact same earnings history and the exact same life expectancy using in those assumptions.
So, Marc, let’s jump to you real quick here. Marc, you’re a CPA, and so, not a Social Security expert, so talk to us. How did this whole friendship with Jim and his business get started? And from a CPA’s perspective, were you getting questions from your clients? Is that what happened? And that’s why you started saying, hey, I need to know, go for it.
[00:05:19] Marc Kiner: I have been doing taxes for about 30 years. And I was getting more and more questions about Social Security. I did not know who to go to for answers. So, I thought I would offer Social Security consulting services in my accounting practice. So, Dean, in 2008, I ran out to the bookstore. I don’t think Amazon was around at that time and I bought three books on Social Security. I read them cover to cover and I ended up with more questions than answers. It’s difficult to learn Social Security from a book.
I’d had issues, there’s no doubt I did. So, like Jim said, one day I was in a local restaurant called the Rusty Bucket, kind of like TGIF nationwide, and I asked this attorney, somebody I’d known for about 10 years, if he knew anybody who could educate me about Social Security. He told me his uncle works for the Social Security Administration and his uncle was going to retire a few months later. His uncle ended up being my partner, Jim Blair. It wasn’t easy, Dean, getting Jim to agree to join me. He turned me down a couple of times, but I think either I wore him out or he saw that there was not much on TV during the daytime.
[00:06:32] Dean Barber: Well, most CPAs aren’t that good of a salesman, Marc. So, Jim, how did that happen? How did he get you talked into it?
[00:06:38] Jim Blair: Well, my plan was to retire and go fishing. We decided to start this company in the middle of winter when it’s too cold to fish. And as Marc mentioned, I tell people all the time, daytime TV is there to punish people that don’t work. So, I had to find something to do. What do I know? That’s pretty much all I know is Social Security.
I always felt that people need knowledge in advance before they apply so they can make the right decision, the lifetime benefit. The worst decision you’re going to make, while it isn’t terrible, you’re still going to receive those benefits for the rest of your life. It can affect what you’re going to receive. It can affect what your spouse would receive if they survive you, maybe there’s children involved, ex-spouses. So, there’s all sorts of little niches here and there that people need to think about and they don’t necessarily know that. And we want to make sure that they do.
[00:07:37] Dean Barber: Well, I think it’s powerful. And so, here’s the interesting thing. Even though I’ve been talking about Social Security claiming strategies now for almost 13 years on my radio show that’s airing in cities across the country, we’ve also done podcasts before the episode. You guys were on prior Episode 34. So, if anybody wants to go back and either watch that on YouTube or check it out on your favorite podcast app, Episode 34.
The thing is that I still see most people, the vast majority of people thinking that the day that they claim their Social Security is synonymous with the day that they retire. In other words, they just think, well, I’m retiring now. I should go claim my Social Security now. And in a very few cases, that’s the right decision, but in so many cases, there’s a better decision that can be made. And so, now, you guys are educating not just the consumer, you’re trying to educate financial advisors. So, I want you to talk to me about what you find surprising as you start to educate financial advisors and insurance guys and CPAs, etc.
[00:08:43] Marc Kiner: Well, let me just say, the vast majority of financial advisors, insurance agents just don’t understand how Social Security works. I talk to advisors all day long, Dean. I ask them some really simple questions, and they’re not able to answer those questions. And thus, they just don’t have the knowledge and education to help their clients. They don’t understand how benefits are calculated, and don’t understand how to obtain credits, if you might be short a few to get up to 40. They just lack basic knowledge about Social Security. Jim?
[00:09:16] Jim Blair: I agree with that 100%. They certainly understand about the financial world, but Social Security is such a huge part of people’s income in retirement, even though it never was meant to be anyone’s sole source of income in retirement, it’s about 40% of your income, but what folks don’t understand and the financial advisors really, I think, don’t think about it. The more you can make that percentage your income in retirement, the less stress it puts on your other types of income. So, they’re likely to last long.
[00:09:55] Dean Barber: And the other part of it that really surprises me, and this will be more from maybe financial advisors, insurance people, but definitely from the general public, is they don’t understand how Social Security is taxed. Most people, they think, well, what do you mean you have to pay taxes on my Social Security? Well, you don’t unless you disqualify yourself and then say, “Well, how do I disqualify myself?” And I’ll say, “Well, you have too much provisional income.” And that’s a special calculation. Marc knows all about that, but people think income is income and it’s money that I can put in my pocket or my bank account and I can go spend it, but I think there’s an awful lot of confusion about how Social Security is taxed.
I think that if a person doesn’t combine the knowledge of how Social Security is taxed, along with the Social Security claiming strategies, they’re only getting half of the equation. Marc, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as a CPA, because if you do a Social Security strategy that by the numbers says this is the right Social Security claiming strategy, but it messes up something on the tax side of things, it could be a worse decision. You didn’t know it because you didn’t look at the tax side of it.
[00:11:10] Marc Kiner: You know, Dean, you can also look at it from the other point of view, too. Somebody taking Social Security benefits now has an opportunity to take a distribution from an IRA or an annuity. And now, that distribution from the annuity or the IRA may now cause a taxable event linked to the Social Security benefits. Now, they may be paying tax on up to 85% of their benefits. And I used to do taxes.
There was a lady, her name was Carolyn, and this was her situation. She would take modest distributions from her annuity and be paying tax on 85% of her benefits now. She was not a happy camper. And if you have Jim’s, like you go down the boat, you went $20,000. Now, you’re paying tax on the $20,000, Dean, plus maybe up to 85% of your Social Security benefits. And you’re right, though, if you’re receiving Social Security, that could also have an impact on the taxes that you pay on your other assets because it could throw you into a higher tax bracket. 85% is a pretty large percentage of your benefits to be subject to income tax.
[00:12:22] Dean Barber: Yeah, right. Well, you could spin it the other way, too, Marc.
[00:12:25] Marc Kiner: You got up to the CPAs.
[00:12:26] Dean Barber: You could spin it the other way and you could say, “Well, at a very minimum, 15% of your Social Security is going to be tax free.” You could be really happy about that, but the bottom line is that the different types of income in retirement don’t play nice together. If you don’t understand how all the different types of income are taxed, we talk about your dividends or capital gains, qualified dividends, of course, that could be tax free, unless you cause those to be taxable, claiming Social Security could start to cause some of those capital gains or dividends that were previously tax free, now all of a sudden become taxable, then causing part of the Social Security become taxable.
You get into that scenario where you might have a thousand-dollar withdrawal out of an IRA that you think, well, I’m in the 15% bracket and all of a sudden, you owe 40% on that thousand dollars or more. It’s just a snowball or compounding effect of one thing that wasn’t taxable before, that distribution made that tax, well, made more Social Security taxable, etc. And it’s just like, wow, how does it happen?
[00:13:26] Marc Kiner: Well, look at, we’re going to make all of your listeners feel a lot better, right, Jim? How does Social Security talk about taxation of benefits?
[00:13:36] Jim Blair: Well, Social Security doesn’t like to talk about taxation of benefits, but they do like to tell you that only 85% of it is subject to federal income tax. A few states, there are some states out there that actually tax it. Most don’t, but there are a few who do.
[00:13:54] Marc Kiner: Yeah, 13 states will tax your benefits. The other 37 states, plus the District of Columbia won’t tax any of your benefits. I had to bring out my fingers to do that math.
[00:14:06] Dean Barber: So, let’s talk about how– I think, obviously, we’ve made the point that through the average couple, you’re going to have north of 600 different iterations on how you can claim, right? First of all, it’s critical to know. Making the right decision is crucial. And Marc, just as you said, hey, you can understand Social Security by reading a book, you’re not going to understand how to claim your Social Security by reading a book or visiting a website. And so, let’s talk about this idea that everybody’s in a different situation and that even though you may have two couples that had the same earnings history and have the same life expectancy, they’re claiming decisions could be different based on other financial circumstances. So, Jim, you want to tackle that one?
[00:14:54] Jim Blair: Well, that’s exactly right. And they need to look at all other sources of income, but when do I start my Social Security? Just because I’m 62, it’s not time to apply. We need to look at all of the factors that are going to enter into that, what you were talking about before the taxes. If you have a lot of income and you can delay your Social Security, that’s going to help with that tax liability, but at the same time, your Social Security is going to grow.
So, it’s kind of you get a double bounce from that by delaying your benefits in many cases. You’re going to want to look at how important the survivor benefit is for each couple. It may not be so important with couple A because they’ve taken care of it through other means, but couple B may be leaning real hard on Social Security when one survives the other. And you need to understand when you file, it affects those benefits. You need to think about that before you apply, not later, because then it’s too late.
I also like couples to look at Social Security as a household income. I know technically, Social Security is a personal income. My Social Security belongs to me. My spouse, the Social Security belongs to her, but we need to look at it as household income when we’re trying to decide when each of us should file. So, we may file independently of each other. And that may be, with couple A, they both file at the same time.
Maybe they both followed their full retirement age. It could have, couple B where particularly if there’s a little difference in their ages, one files at 62, brings money into the household. That’s the higher earning individual delaying their benefit and getting a higher benefit amount, which, as I mentioned before, affects the survivor benefit. So, there’s all sorts of different things for everyone to take into consideration. It doesn’t happen a lot, but a lot of couples out there have disabled children or maybe a minor child. They’re going to be eligible for benefits, too. So, we have to factor everything in when we’re trying to decide what’s best for this couple or this specific individual.
[00:17:13] Dean Barber: As you’re saying all these things, Jim, I can just see the people out there that are watching on YouTube or listening, they’re thinking, oh, my God, how am I ever going to figure all this out? I mean, this is so complicated. You know what? I don’t feel like taking that much in. I’m just going to go claim, I’m just going to go file. And I think that happens far more often than what any of the three of us want to admit because we’re passionate about it. We love it. We know that there’s an amazing difference in getting this decision right versus just going and claiming your Social Security when you think you need the income, because there may be other ways to get the income that you need that will be more beneficial for your financial health over the long term.
So, Marc, how do you look at this from a CPAs perspective? And let’s circle back to those, all the taxes and things that we talked about. And then, how are you, as a CPA, talking to somebody about making sure that they get this right and the importance of it?
[00:18:16] Marc Kiner: Yeah, there are 76 million baby boomers out there, Dean, folks born between 1946 and 1964. So, there are 76 million different situations of people out there. And that’s why when we teach our class, we really do emphasize situational Social Security because everybody will be in a unique situation. And like Jim said earlier, other types of income streams will have a major impact on when they should begin their Social Security benefits. About 30% of folks actually begin benefits around age 62. So, it’s a very low percentage to begin with.
However, though, only about 4% of people wait to age 70. And I wish that there were more people because we really want the husband, assuming the husband is the higher earner and assuming he’s going to pass away earlier, where they do want the husband, Dean, to wait until age 70 if he can. This way now, we’re maximizing benefits to the wife upon his death, not only to the wife, but maybe he’s leaving behind some young kids under the age of 18 or 19, or like Jim said, a disabled adult child. If he waits until age 70, now, we’re maximizing benefits to the disabled adult child or the other child or the other children and also to the wife.
We did an extreme analysis for a client about three years ago, Andrew and Luanne. Andrew is 24 years older than Luanne, and they have two kids. So, here we had a factor in what type of surviving spouse benefits he might be leaving to her upon his death. There’s no doubt she’s going to collect the surviving spouse benefit, probably more likely than her collecting her own retirement benefit. And also, the kids, children under the ages of 18 or 19, Dean, are eligible for a benefit off upon the passing of a parent or when a parent begins their own retirement benefits or disability benefits. So, we have to factor in young kids and a 24-year age difference between spouses.
And you mentioned somebody could have, maybe, I think, Dean, you said 600, so different types of options that could be listed for somebody. Yeah, when Jim does an analysis, we don’t really look at 600 options. That would take him a little long to do that, but I know in our mind, a married couple, Dean, would have maybe 10 to 12, maybe 10 to 15 options that we want to talk to them about.
Waiting until age 70, I mean, at 62, now, taking 62 may not always be a bad decision. Like Jim alluded to earlier, and this is what we talk about in our class, if a wife is eligible for her own benefits, many times, a really nice strategy would be for the wife to take her benefits early. At age 62, she’ll take a reduction that might allow the husband to wait until full retirement age or age 70 to claim his benefits. And let’s take it one step further. There’s a magic birthdate out there. Jim, isn’t there?
[00:21:31] Jim Blair: There sure is, January 1st of 1954.
[00:21:34] Marc Kiner: If the husband, if he was born by that date, 01/01/54, he could file a restricted application, file for spousal benefits off his wife, while at the same time his benefits are growing, earning those delayed retirement credits. Who in their right mind would know that? Nobody.
[00:21:51] Dean Barber: Right.
[00:21:52] Marc Kiner: Unless they met with a firm like yours, an educated advisor.
[00:21:55] Dean Barber: That changed in 2013 or 2014. Is that when they took that away?
[00:22:00] Marc Kiner: 2015, November 2nd, 2015. President Obama signed the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act. And that strategy restricted application is still available to about 40% of our clients. So, when you file for benefits off a spouse, while your benefits grow, earnings delay retirement credits, but, Jim, that’s going to be phased out completely pretty soon, isn’t it?
[00:22:22] Jim Blair: Yeah, in a couple of years, by the end of 2023, then nobody’s going to be eligible to take advantage of it. They’re already going to be age 70 or older and they’ve aged out, but it’s just about gone, but there are still folks who can take advantage of it and those that can definitely should if it’s to their advantage.
[00:22:45] Dean Barber: Right. It’s just not as prevalent as what it once was back when we really started digging into this deeper. I want to talk a little bit about the cost of living increases on Social Security and how people are factoring that when they’re doing their planning and if they’re just using their own Excel spreadsheet and they’re trying to say, well, I might get a cost of living increase and go back.
And I look at 2.7% the average cost of living increase for Social Security. So, they start putting that in, but what they’re forgetting about is the increase in their Medicare premiums that typically eats up the majority of that cost of living increase. And so, people wind up finding themselves with a Social Security check that’s very stagnant once they reach Medicare age. So, which one of you wants to tackle that? You want to do that one, Jim or Marc?
[00:23:43] Marc Kiner: The big guy.
[00:23:45] Dean Barber: The big guy, okay.
[00:23:46] Jim Blair: You know, that’s a good point. We look at the cost of living and that’s great. My check is going up, but also my Medicare will go up as well. And particularly, among folks who aren’t up at the very top, oftentimes, it’ll take all of it or garner all of it anyway. And so, while you got a cost of living increase doesn’t help with the Medicare.
That’s certainly an important thing for people aged 65 or older that your health insurance and to be able to pay for that and not really digging more into your wallet to pay for it, because the cost of living increase is going to cover it is a good thing, but you’re spending dollar, the amount of that dollar that you have to buy things, like you said, it’s going to remain stagnant or maybe in some cases, even drop a little bit. Just the power of that dollar in itself.
[00:24:45] Dean Barber: You’re losing purchasing power, right?
[00:24:46] Jim Blair: That’s why it’s important to delay as long as you can to take your benefit, to make that as high as possible. That doesn’t mean everybody should wait until 70, but you should wait as long as possible to begin your benefit.
[00:25:00] Dean Barber: Now, Marc, I want to go back to you. And I want to talk a little bit about the tax allocation that a person has, and you’re pretty rare in the CPA world where you’ll actually get into this and you’ll understand that most CPAs are simply preparing taxes. Most CPAs aren’t doing the type of planning work that you’re doing.
I know that because we employ CPAs here in our organization, and the planning work that they do is super rare as well, but the tax allocation work, I’ll call it tax diversification, how much is a person saved in their taxable account versus tax deferred versus tax free, to me, that has a big weighing factor on what Social Security claiming strategy somebody should use. Do you look at all that, Marc, when you’re taking a person through this process of really coaching them on how to claim their Social Security?
[00:25:57] Marc Kiner: Well, let me go back. I want to mention something Jim talked about when it comes to COLA. We’re expecting a fairly sizable COLA adjustment this year. It could be in the 4% range versus 1.3% last year. So, it’s going to be significantly higher. I saw there’s a gallon of gas in Cincinnati for $3.15. Thank goodness I drive a hybrid. Dean, let me tell you how we do an analysis in our firm. It’s different probably from how you handle your Social Security analysis. I know you really want to get into the tax, which is really good.
When we do an analysis, we will look at Social Security benefits on a pure cash flow basis. So, how much is coming in on a monthly basis? And we will also talk about the present value analysis, because sometimes it’s better to take your funds earlier. That might be another option than waiting. You take your funds earlier, that increases the present value analysis, and that’s many times better than just a pure cash flow. When it comes to the taxation and allocation between different buckets of income, we leave that up to the client’s tax prepared to help us through that process because we really do concentrate on the Social Security benefits. And a lot of the clients come to us from CPAs, and we don’t want to step onto their shoes or into their shoes when it comes to helping clients with the Social Security benefits.
[00:27:48] Dean Barber: Right. Okay, so the reason…
[00:27:50] Marc Kiner: Even though I’m a CPA, we take a different viewpoint, and that’s why we bring in other advisors to help us when needed.
[00:27:59] Dean Barber: Okay, yeah, the reason I say that we think that that’s critical is because in my 33 years as a financial advisor and CEO of Barber Financial Group, I’ve trained all of my advisors and CPAs this way is that we have to focus on cash flow. So, you’re focused on cash flow, we’re focused on cash flow, but I want to make sure that we’re focusing not just on a portion of the cash flow, because what we know is that the only thing that a person can spend is what’s left over after Uncle Sam takes their piece.
And so, if we know that a Social Security claim strategy might individually look one way, let’s plug it into the overall plan, let’s see if it really works, did it give us the intended benefit?
Or was there an adverse consequence on the tax side of things? Now, it’s a much deeper dive. Those analysis has taken us a few hours for every individual that we’re doing that for, but to me, it’s well worth it because at the end of the day, I want to be able to look somebody in the eye and say, “The way that you’re going to claim your Social Security is this, and here’s what it’s going to do to your overall net spendable income for the next 25 years through your retirement based on these assumptions.”
And so, we’re doing the same thing, Marc. I think we’re just approaching it slightly differently. The bottom line is there aren’t very many people doing it and there needs to be more people doing it, which is why you guys are putting together your training programs to train financial advisors and CPAs and insurance people.
What I don’t want to have happen, though, is for people that are an insurance salesman or an annuity salesman or something like that, use this Social Security claiming strategy is some sort of a gimmick to allow them to sell more products, because I think that that can kind of take away from the real benefit of looking at this from a fiduciary standpoint and making sure that we’re always doing what’s in the best interests of the individual.
[00:30:01] Marc Kiner: And Dean, that’s why we also look to the other advices of the clients that we get. Many times, they already have financial advisors and insurance agents and tax professionals, and so, we will work with them to come up with the best solution for their clients.
[00:30:17] Dean Barber: Which is critical, right? And it takes everybody working together.
[00:30:20] Marc Kiner: And it’s extremely critical, you’re right.
[00:30:22] Dean Barber: It really does take everybody working together. Okay, so you also had mentioned in our pre-show discussions that there’s some redesigned Social Security statements. What do people need to be on the lookout for there in the redesign of the Social Security statement?
[00:30:40] Marc Kiner: Well, it’s being cut down from four pages to two pages, and it’s only available to a select number of folks that have online accounts. There are 55 million online Social Security accounts. Some of them are now seeing the redesigned two-page format. And one of the changes is the fact that under the older version, Social Security would show your benefits at three different ages, at age 62, at your full retirement age, and at age 70. Now, they’re showing benefits every year from age 62 all the way up to age 70. And they’re also showing that in a bar format, which is a lot easier to understand and to analyze.
So, you’re getting benefits from age 62, 63, 64 all the way up to age 70 versus just age 62, full retirement age, and age 70, but it’s only that right now being illustrated and given to some people who have online accounts. Dean, do you have an online account?
[00:31:49] Dean Barber: I do not, but I might have to set that up.
[00:31:53] Marc Kiner: Please do so.
[00:31:54] Dean Barber: Yeah.
[00:31:55] Marc Kiner: Just go to SSA.gov, set up an online account, join 55 million folks that have online accounts. Now, they’ve made it easier, Dean, to set up an online account. And I’m glad you waited because when we were with you last time, folks had to answer a series of security questions that came up for the credit report. And those questions really screwed a lot of people up and they couldn’t get past them. Now, it’s a lot easier, Dean. So, by you waiting, it made a whole lot of sense.
[00:32:25] Dean Barber: Well, I’ve helped…
[00:32:26] Marc Kiner: All you need to do now is indicate where your driver’s license came from, what state and the driver’s license number. What could be easier than that? It’s a 10, 15-minute process.
[00:32:38] Dean Barber: Yeah, that’s interesting. I’ve helped a lot of people go on and set up their online accounts, but I’ve not done my own. So, you’re right, back the way it was before, I didn’t realize they had updated it. So, that’s a good deal.
[00:32:50] Marc Kiner: Well, Dean, you were waiting. And now, I understand why. You were waiting for an easier way to…
[00:32:57] Dean Barber: Yes, I was actually clairvoyant. I knew this was coming, right?
[00:33:02] Marc Kiner: Great job.
[00:33:06] Dean Barber: So, when somebody goes to file their Social Security, we’re getting to a point where more and more things we want to just do online. Let’s hop on a computer and let’s file our Social Security there. Not all of the claiming strategies that can be done really are laid out well enough to do that online. Some people still need to go in and talk to somebody at the Social Security Administration, especially if they have a special way that they want to claim. Jim, you want to speak to that?
[00:33:39] Jim Blair: Well, there are some benefits you can apply for online. Online, you can file for retirement, disability or spousal benefits, but you cannot apply for a survivor benefit widows, widowers or children’s benefit. If you have a deceased spouse in your past and that’s the type of benefit that you’re going to apply for, you have to do that through the Social Security Administration. A lot of times, people don’t want to apply online, but even if you do, if like you, you haven’t created your account yet, you cannot apply online. You have to have that account created through SSA.gov to file an application online.
If you’re going to apply online, I do like it. You can do it when you’re ready. It’s pretty much 24/7. There are a few times it’s shut down when they’re working on the website, but that’s the way all websites are, but pretty much 24/7. You can do it when you’re ready and when you apply, say you apply today, your application shows up at the local Social Security office tomorrow. It comes in their overnight computer traffic. So, it’s a great way to apply, but the thing about it, and I think you alluded to this a little bit, is that you have to know what it is you want to do.
If you’re not talking to anybody, you’ve already decided what type of benefit and when is the best time for you to file and you’re doing the application online, if you have questions at all, you’re going to need to call the Social Security office at the moment. Eventually, you’ll be able to go in and talk to a claims representative and get a little bit of knowledge, but the big problem with that, they’re not allowed to talk to people about their filing option. Their assumption is that people are smart to have access to the internet. They know about their savings, their Social Security. You’ll pick the best time that’s right for you.
So, if you say I’m ready to file for benefits, then you’re ready to file for benefits. And that may be true. And there may be other benefits that you’re not eligible for or that you’re eligible for, they’re not talking about because you didn’t bring it up. That restricted application for those folks for January 1st, 1954 or earlier, or maybe you have a deceased spouse in your past.
Instead of taking on your own, you can apply for the deceased spouse benefits and receive that and save your own until later or vice versa. I used to say that one was covered pretty well. And then, I saw an inspector general report that says that they’re not doing such a good job of that anymore. So, people are responsible for that. So, I wouldn’t depend on, and I’m not beating up on the folks I used to work with. There’s still a lot of good people that work there, but you need to do your homework yourself.
[00:36:36] Dean Barber: I was going to say…
[00:36:37] Marc Kiner: The major issue is no one can work there. There are 85,000 employees. Recently, they had 65,000. So, 20,000 people like Jim Blair walking out the door, a 35-year veteran to the system. And so, if you go down there and say, “Hey, I’ve heard about this restricted application. Is this available to me?” They’re going to look at you like a deer looks in the headlights.
[00:36:59] Dean Barber: Yeah, I don’t know.
[00:37:00] Marc Kiner: So, a really big myth is people think they can get the right advice and guidance from Social Security. That’s just not going to happen.
[00:37:07] Dean Barber: Right. I was chuckling to myself the whole time Jim was talking because we’ve had multiple times where we would say, “Okay, here’s the strategy we want you to use,” and especially when we would do a restricted application back in the day and we’d send people down to the Social Security office and they’d get mad, they’d call me, and they said, “They said, I can’t do this.” I’m like, well, you haven’t talked to the right person yet because you can.
And what I found out was I was doing a workshop one time on Social Security and I had a gal that was taking feverish notes at the front of the class. We finished up the class and she sat there and kept taking notes and kept writing stuff down. Everybody left. She says, “Dean, I didn’t want to say anything,” she said, “but I worked for the Social Security Administration. I’ve never heard of the stuff you’re talking about. I don’t think it’s right.” Then this was all the way back in 2009, Jim. I said, “Well, I so appreciate if you go back in and do some research because I know I’m right.”
So, she called me back a couple of days later. She goes, “Oh, my gosh, I cannot believe that I didn’t know any of this stuff. You were right, but I had to get up to such a high level of somebody who actually knew what you were talking about.” She said, “What I figured out is that we all get put into this little box and this is the stuff that you’re going to do for people right here. That’s all the more they teach us. So, we don’t know all of this.” So, I think it’s excellent that people have to understand that’s not where you go to get your advice. That’s where you go to file for your benefits. And that’s it.
[00:38:37] Marc Kiner: I like that, Dean. I like that a lot. Great way of saying it.
[00:38:41] Dean Barber: Yeah. Your advice needs to come from the professionals who have taken the time to truly understand what’s the right Social Security claiming strategy for you. And I applaud Marc, Jim, you guys, for continuing to get the word out, to continuing to educate the consumer, continuing to educate the financial advisory community. And I appreciate you guys taking time to spend with us here on The Guided Retirement Show. Any parting thoughts? Anything else that you think we missed on today’s program?
[00:39:15] Marc Kiner: I think I’ll comment, Jim, that I’ll let you throw in your two cents. People just need to give a lot of consideration to how and when they want to claim their benefits. Just don’t rush down your Social Security when you’re 62. Take a hard look at it. Everybody’s situation is so completely different. And that’s why we educated advisors across the country so they could become better advisors to clients. And Dean, let me ask you a question. What’s the universal language to connect with baby boomers? Where do you think it is?
[00:39:47] Dean Barber: Universal language, money.
[00:39:48] Marc Kiner: Social Security. All have Social Security questions.
[00:39:54] Dean Barber: Social Security spends well, too, but yes, you’re right, they do have Social Security and they should have, right? It’s complicated.
[00:40:02] Marc Kiner: They should. Jim?
[00:40:04] Jim Blair: Yeah, and your people are planning for everything. Go plan for their weddings, go plan for vacations. Maybe they plan for divorce, who knows? But we’re always planning for what we’re going to do. Well, Social Security is a lifetime benefit. You’re going to receive it the rest of your life. Sometimes, it’s a dual lifetime benefit because if your spouse steps into your shoes, they’ll receive that benefit the rest of their life. So, why not take an hour or two, maybe three, whatever it takes to figure out in advance? What is the best thing for me to do with this money?
Yeah, it’s not just a piddly amount of money. A married couple, by the time it’s all said and done, can receive over a million dollars in benefits depending on their life expectancy. That’s a lot of money. You want to make sure that you plan it right so that you get your money. It’s an entitlement from the perspective that it’s your money, you paid into it, you’re entitled to receive it. And you’re entitled to receive it at the best possible strategy for you and your spouse. And you need to plan to do that.
[00:41:12] Dean Barber: Yeah, I’ll give one last parting thought here, and then we’ll let you gentlemen get on with what you’re doing here, but here’s the way I look at it. And Jim, you’ve sparked my thoughts here. It is your money. Think about this, you made a deposit out of every earning dollar you earned, you made a deposit into the Social Security trust fund, if you want to call it that.
And your employer made a dollar for dollar match into that. Imagine if all of that money that you put into Social Security and that dollar for dollar match that your employer made for you were in your 401(k) plan or your 403(b) plan or your TSP plan, and that was your money, that is really the way that I want people to think about their Social Security, because it is your money. And how you claim it is going to dictate how much you’re going to get back out of it. So, critical.
Guys, thanks so much for being part of The Guided Retirement Show here. And we’ll do this again sometime in the future because this subject isn’t going away.
[00:42:15] Marc Kiner: Thank you, Dean. We had a great time. Appreciate the opportunity.
[00:42:19] Jim Blair: Yeah, we appreciate it. Thanks, Dean.
[00:42:21] Dean Barber: Okay, Jim, Marc, take care.
[00:42:22] Dean Barber: Thanks again for being with us here on The Guided Retirement Show. Make sure and check out the show notes or a link where you can request a complimentary consultation with one of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professionals to help you make sure that you claim your Social Security the right way. Make sure you share this with all of your friends and relatives. Everybody needs to know Social Security is not synonymous with the date that you retire. It’s complicated and there’s a lot at stake here.[END]
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