SAVVY SENIOR – Social Security Calculators That Can Help You Decide When To Apply

Dear wise elder,

Can you recommend any good resources that can help my wife and I determine the best claim ages to maximize our Social Security retirement benefits?

Just turned 62

Dear 62,

Deciding when to start collecting Social Security benefits is one of the most complicated and important decisions in retirement. The difference between a good and a bad decision could cost you and your wife tens of thousands of dollars in retirement. So it makes a lot of sense to do your due diligence now.

Factors to consider

As you may already know, you can claim Social Security anytime between 62 and 70, but every year you wait increases your benefits by 5-8%. However, there are other factors you need to consider to help you make a good decision, such as your health and the longevity of your family, if you plan to work in retirement, as well as spousal and survivor benefits.

To help you assess your claims strategies, you should be aware that Social Security Administration claims specialists are not trained or authorized to give you personalized advice on when you should start collecting your benefits. They can only provide you with information about how the system works under different circumstances. For advice, you will need to look to other sources.

Online tools

Your first step in getting advice on Social Security claims strategy is to go to SSA.gov/myaccount to get your personalized statement that estimates the amount of your retirement benefits between 62 and 70. These estimates are based on your annual income which is also shown on your report.

Once you’ve got your estimates for you and your wife, there are a number of online social security strategy calculators you can turn to that can compare your options so you can make an informed decision.

The best which is completely free is Open Social Security (OpenSocialSecurity.com), which performs the calculations for each possible claim age (or, if you’re married, every possible combination of claim ages), and tells you which strategy is expected to deliver the most dollars spent over your lifetime.

But if you want a more in-depth analysis, consider paid calculators like Maximize My Social Security (MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com) or Social Security Solutions (SocialSecuritySolutions.com). These two tools, which are especially useful for married couples as well as those who are divorced or widowed, will run what-if scenarios based on your situation and show how different deposit strategies affect total payment over the same time period.

Maximize My Social Security’s web service costs $ 40 per year for a household, while Social Security Solutions offers multiple levels of personalized and web-based phone counseling ranging from $ 20 to $ 250.

In-person counseling

You can also get help through a financial planner. Look for someone who is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner (CFP), bills on an hourly basis, and has experience in Social Security analysis.

To find someone, use the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors online directory at NAPFA.org, or try the Garrett Planning Network (GarrettPlanningNetwork.com), which is a network of paid advisors who charge between $ 150 and $ 300 per hour.

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