While 89% of American adults have at least “some confidence” in their knowledge of Social Security, according to a recent Nationwide survey, only 18% reported that they felt “very confident” in their conscience.
That must change, according to one expert.
“Be proactive, take control of your future, and make the right decision,” Beau Henderson, founder and principal specialist in retirement planning at RichLife Advisors, an Atlanta-based company, told Yahoo Money. “For many households, this is the most important decision to get it right and retire.”
He offered his best tips for taking control of your financial planning and expanding your knowledge of Social Security to help you retire.
Start planning for Social Security 10 years from now
When clients turn 50, that’s usually when Henderson says they approach him with retirement planning high on the agenda.
By giving clients the benefit of a 10-year window to make adjustments and forecast Social Security benefit amounts, you find that the transition to the golden years is smoother and with fewer financial surprises.
Don’t make retirement decisions based on the decisions of others.
Henderson explained that Social Security benefits are so individualized because each household has a different set of variables along with retirement goals, income, and expenses.
Despite each one’s unique circumstances, he still hears from clients that his knowledge is based on the actions of “a neighbor, a co-worker or a brother-in-law,” he said.
“If I run optimization analysis for 20 households, there will be no general rules that apply across the board,” he said. “Just because someone said you should do it at age X because they did it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.”
Be your own advocate
Rather than being intimidated by the more than 500 possible ways to claim your social security benefits, Henderson wants to empower people so they can get the most out of the government program.
The Social Security Administration harbors a wealth of knowledge on how to claim services, but its capabilities fall short of advising Americans on decision-making or alerting them to additional benefit eligibility.
Henderson insists on self-education or meeting with a financial advisor in the years leading up to retirement to develop the best strategy that is right for you.
“I never heard of Social Security calling someone to share that there is $ 80,000 more in benefits for which they are eligible and then tell them how to claim it,” he said. “It is up to you to know what applies to you.”
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