Created the Social Security Advisor Certification Education Industry in 2013.

Social Security Talk

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Marc Kiner: Hello, everybody. Welcome to this edition of Social Security Talk with your co-host, Marc Kiner, in my spacious studio in Blue Ash Ohio, joined by my co-host, Jim Blair, in his spacious studio in White Oak, which is also a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Good afternoon, Jim.

Jim Blair: Good afternoon.

Marc: Can’t believe 2022 is coming to an end. Can you?

Jim: It’s wrapping up, that’s for sure.

Marc: Yes. Two days to go and we’ll be into 2023. As a reminder, Jim and I own a company called Premier Social Security Consulting, and our company provides a couple of really good services. Number one, Social Security consulting services. When an advisor is meeting with the client and questions come up about Social Security claiming strategies and options, we can provide an analysis for that client.

Also, number two, and this is what Jim and I are really passionate about, we educate advisors across the country increasing their value to clients, and we offer the National Social Security Advisor certificate after a day of very intense training. That scares people, Jim.

Jim: Yes, I know.

Marc: They take an assessment. After they pass the assessment, they earn the NSSA certificate.

Jim, we emphasize a couple of things in our class, don’t we?

Jim: We do. We talk about the benefits that are available to people. Advisors need to be proactive, they need to ask the right questions of their clients and make sure their clients are maximizing benefits.  At age 60-62 it is time to start thinking about Social Security, doesn’t mean it is time to file. You must ask those important questions so that you can make sure the individual’s looking at the benefits that’s going to be most advantageous for them.

Marc: Jim, you’re right, we focus on Situational Social Security because we know that everyone out there is in a unique and different situation. 76 million baby boomers. Jim, you do the consultations for our company. Nobody wants to pay me for my advice. They pay us for your advice.  You can be meet with 10 different married couples, and each married couple will have a different set of circumstances that relate to their unique situation, and as a result, have different options and strategies that are available to them. Would you agree?

Jim: Oh, absolutely. It could be a married couple, it could be a single person, it could be someone with a deceased spouse in their past, or ex-spouses, or maybe children, all sorts of things to think about when you’re getting ready to talk about Social Security.

Marc: Those probing questions, if advisors know what probing questions to ask their clients, it’s more likely their clients will really get more money out of the system.

Jim, I want to spend a little time talking about a few of the myths relating to the Social Security Administration. Jim, how long did you work for SSA?

Jim: I worked there for 35 years, did a number of jobs, but started long time ago and retired while back as well, but spent 35 years with the agency.

Marc: How many of those years were fun, pleasant, interesting, exciting?

Jim: I pretty much enjoyed the whole time. There were certainly times, sometimes were better than others, most definitely, but that’s the way it is with any job. I liked the people I worked with, for the most part, and I liked working with the general public. That could be a challenge sometimes, as probably most everybody knows, dealing with the general public can put that stress level right up there. I liked helping people, so I really enjoyed it.

Marc: Jim, the biggest myth that folks need to be aware of is that, you can get really, really good guidance and advice down at the local Social Security office. Please dispel that myth, please, Jim.

Jim: Yes, people at the Social Security office, they know Social Security. They don’t know somebody else’s other circumstances. When you go down there and talk to them, they may talk to you about retirement benefits or spousal benefits. They have no clue if you have an\y savings, an IRA, 401K, etc.. They don’t know your particular situation. No, they’re not going to talk to you about all the various strategies that you have. In fact, they’re probably only going to go over the main ones that are available, “Are you eligible for retirement? Well, take a retirement application. Are you married? Well, get an application for your spouse.”

I used to think they did a better job with survivors, but they don’t. Will they help people? I think it’s still better for folks to have an understanding of what’s available to them before they contact Social Security because pretty much they’re just order takers now.

Marc: Jim, you’re just not going to get really good guidance down the local office. The representatives, Jim, like you always tell me, have been directed by their boss, the commissioner in Baltimore, not to review options with folks. Additionally, Jim, when you worked there, there were about 85,000 workers. Now they’re more like 70,000. 15,000 or so have left the SSA, and they have walked out with 30 to 35 years’ experience, just like you did, Jim.

If somebody walks down to the local office. You are not going to walk down, maybe you’ll take a pony or a horse, I don’t know, but if somebody goes down to local office, Jim, and says, “Hey, I’ve heard about this restricted application,” the representative will look at them like a deer looks into headlights. The biggest myth is, Social Security will not provide you any guidance.

Another myth is, Social Security will give you the correct answers. That is also incorrect. Right, Jim?

Jim: Yes, that’s a problem we’ve been running into lately. Folks have contacted Social Security, and they’re not getting the correct answer. They’re not being told about the earnings test. They’re just being told if they’re under full retirement age, well, sorry, you’re working, you can’t file for benefits.

That may be true, and it may not. That’s the problem. They’re not asking them how much they’re earning. Just because you weren’t over the allowable amount for the year doesn’t mean you won’t draw most of your benefits. It depends on how much you go over. They’re not really providing the information people need to know, and they’re just giving them short quick answers, and people are losing benefits as a result.

Marc: Jim, I recall receiving a phone call from an advisor on a Saturday. The client of the advisor was scheduled for a phone call with SSA maybe a week later, two weeks later, whatever. The representative contacted the client on a Saturday saying, “We have time. Would you like us to take your application today?” Of course the client said. This was the situation of the client. They were single at one time. The wife was a surviving spouse, and she got remarried at age 60, or maybe 61, I don’t know, but after attaining age 60, we know that. The Social Security representative said, “Well, since you were not taking any Social Security benefits before age 60, you are not eligible for a surviving spouse benefit now.” The client was floored, didn’t know what was going on. The advisor was so darn confused and irritated that he contacted me on a Saturday. He needed to talk, which is fine. I explained what the rule was, as long as the individual got married after attaining age 60, she would still be eligible for a surviving spouse benefit.

Jim, what do you have to say about that?

Jim: Yes, unfortunately the advice that they got her from the Social Security Administration was wrong. The rule is, as long as you remarry after attaining age 60, then you’re still eligible for the benefit. If you’re receiving it, you can certainly continue to receive the survivor benefit, but even if you’re not receiving it, you can file for it later. There’s not a distinction between remarrying after age 60 and receiving a benefit. It’s just you have to remarry after age 60.

Had that person not had someone to go to, they would’ve taken what the individual told them and just lost benefits. Then over time, could they have ever gotten that back? It’s possible. It’s a hard process. I’m not going to say. The odds are not 100% they get it back. I’d say the odds are no better than 50/50, but maybe even worse than that. Unfortunately, that’s been happening a lot.

Marc: Well, the good news in this situation is that the representative from SSA did call the client back and indicated that they were incorrect, they made a mistake from what they said. At least that’s the good news, but it’s just too bad, Jim, that this type of information, incorrect information, and guidance, is provided at the Social Security office. It really is.

Jim: How often would the person get called back? That was a good employee. The agency is full of good employees, but they’re also not. Fortunately, that person took the initiative and found they were wrong, contacted the person, and was going to make it right, and that’s important, but where it worries me are the folks that don’t even bother trying to find out if they were right or wrong, and they never contact that person, and they find out much later, oh, you could have been drawn all this time, but you weren’t. Sorry about that,

Marc: Jim, I was going to say something. Well, you know something? It escaped my memory. Oh, now I remember, Jim. That is why people take our education and subscribe to our support, so we are available to them almost on a moment’s notice. When an issue comes up, something goes really strange at the local office, or you hear something from Social Security, it just doesn’t make sense, they can just give us a call, por send us an email. That’s the value of taking our class and subscribing to our support.

Jim, there’s also a myth too, that the Social Security Administration, if you’re a surviving spouse, will provide you with good guidance as to if should you be collecting your own benefit, should you be collecting a benefit off a deceased spouse, or even a deceased ex-spouse. Jim, one time when you worked there, you indicated that surviving spouses did receive good advice in that situation, but now you say that advice has gone south. Am I right?

Jim: Well, that’s true. I used to think that was one area where the administration did a really good job taking care of the widows and widowers, making sure that they understood how they could draw benefits and when. Then I read this inspector general report. It’s been a couple of years now, but they did a review of the Social Security Administration and found out they’re doing a horrible job.

I was really sorry to hear that. These people are definitely going to be in a position where they probably need the best advice they can get on which benefit to take and when. Now the Social Security Administration has fallen down on the job there. They said there’s just millions of dollars that have been lost that people will never recover, so it’s unfortunate.

Marc: Jim, let’s talk– Excuse me. [chuckles] Jim, I drank a little too much eggnog already. [laughs] A spill over from Christmas Day, I guess.

Hey, Jim, let’s talk about some of those strategies and options that are available to a surviving spouse. We do know that there’s a provision which does not apply to surviving spouses, and that’s called deemed filing. Deemed Filing says that when you file for benefits, you need to take any benefits that you are eligible for at the time of filing. There’s more that goes with it also, but that’s the essence of it.

Jim, for surviving spouses, deemed filing is not an issue, is it?

Jim: No, it doesn’t apply to the survivor benefit. What that allows someone to do is take a reduced benefit early, a survivor benefit as early as age 60, or their own benefit as early as age 62, and then switch to the other benefit later. It’s not reduced for age at that point. You could take a survivor benefit at age 60, if you wanted, and if it would give you more money, you could file on your own at 62, but you could also delay that. In the meantime, you’re drawing the survivor benefit, and then you could file on your own at your full retirement age, or you could even wait till age 70 and earn those delayed retirement credits, but in the meantime, you have this money coming in.

Or, you take your own at 62, and the higher survivor benefit at your full retirement age. What it allows someone to do is take a lower benefit in the beginning, and it’s reduced for age, switch over to a higher benefit later, and that’s the one they’re going to receive for a longer period of time.

In some of the strategies we’ve done for people, we’ve seen cases where over their lifetime, that makes a difference of $50,000 to $75,000 in benefits, and that’s money that they would never make up if they didn’t file it correctly. You want to make sure that people understand the options they have available to them so they can make the right decision.

Marc: Jim, when we do an analysis for surviving spouse, we’re going to tell them to contact SSA to get that benefits matrix. How important is that benefits matrix, and what does that benefit matrix show?

Jim: Well, the important thing is it makes my job easier. [laughs]

Marc: Mine too.

Jim: That’s why it counts. Now what it does, the benefit matrix will show their own benefit and the survivor benefit. It tells that person, if you take benefits at certain ages, and it lists every month, so for survivors, if you take a benefit at 60, 61 months, 62 months, 63 months, all the way up to full retirement age, and your own benefit from 62, up to as much as age 70. You can see if I start at these different points, how much my benefit amount is going to be.

The importance of that is it lets the person see the dollar amounts that they’re going to receive, not only now but later, and they can make the decision, can I afford to take the lower benefit now to get the higher benefit later, is it worth doing that, how close are the benefits. It’s real important. The benefit matrix is a great tool.

Marc: Jim, about three weeks ago or so, Social Security redesigned its website. What are your thoughts?

Jim: I don’t like it, [chuckles] but they didn’t ask me.

Marc: They didn’t ask me either.

Jim: It’s more the homepage I don’t like. It seems like once you’re inside the website, it’s still pretty much the same or the same information. I’m just not a fan. I thought the original homepage was a little easier to navigate and to find what you’re looking for, but it’s all still there. That’s the good news. I guess as we work with it, we’ll learn a little bit more about it, but no, I’m not a big fan.

Marc: The Social Security website, for you folks that may not know, is www.ssa.gov.

Jim: gov.

Marc: That’s Sam Sam Apple. .gov. Sorry, Jim. You’re right. It’s .gov. ssa.gov, or socialsecurity.gov. If you go to ssa.com, I don’t know. I don’t want to know what you’re going to see. [chuckles] Anyway, that’s for sure.

Jim, we’re drawing to a close to this month’s Social Security Talk podcast, but please, Jim, mention, for a couple of seconds or so, what’s going on with that Restricted Application, because it’s still out there for some folks.

Jim: Yes. The restricted application is still available for anybody that was born January 1st of 1954 or earlier. We know that there’s about another year’s worth left, so people are not going to receive it for a long period of time, but particularly if there’s someone waiting till age 70 anyway to take their benefit, they can.  As long as their spouse is receiving retirement on their own work record, or a disability, they can file the restricted application, and they’ll receive a spousal benefit.

Now, that doesn’t affect their own benefit when they get ready to apply. They’ll still get the same amount of money if they wait till age 70, whether they do the restricted application or not, and it doesn’t affect their spouse’s benefit. This is as close to free money as you can receive. Where you might run into folks is when your clients are telling you, “I’m going to be 70 in another three or four months. I’m getting ready to apply for Social Security.” What you would want to say to them is, “Well, you know what? While you’re waiting, let’s do the restricted application. We’ll give you six months of back pay. We can backdate that application six months. That’s what Social Security allows you to do. Then you’ll receive that.” Once they get that established, you can file a new application for benefits to begin at age 70 on your own work record. That way, you’ll get some income while you’re waiting to reach age 70. It’s not available to a whole lot of people, but those that do have it available to them, it’s sure going to make them happy. You get somebody some extra money, nobody complains about that.

Marc: You always say, Jim, right now about 15% of our clients can still file that restricted app. When the law was passed back in 2015, it was more like two-thirds. Now it’s definitely come down quite a bit, but the restrictive application does need to be in your Social Security toolbox. There’s no doubt about it.

Jim, the 2023 National Underwriter Company’s Social Security and Medicare Facts book recently came out, and I’m really excited about that. If you look closely, Jim, you’ll see our names listed at the bottom of this book. It’s a great resource for advisors to have on their desks. It covers questions that relate to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and related topics. It’s an excellent book written in question-and-answer format. Advisors can purchase this book with a 35% discount by purchasing it through us. Send me an email if that’s of interest to you. My email address is mkiner@mypremierplan.com. The website for our educational class is www.premiernssa.com, and my phone number is 513-247-0526.

Like I said before, I’m Marc Kiner, this is Jim Blair, and we teach the National Social Security Advisor Certificate Program, and we also do Social Security consulting to individuals across the country.

Jim, thanks so much for participating again in our Social Security Talk podcast. I had a lot of fun with you this year.

Jim: Yes, always happy to talk about Social Security, make sure people understand it. They get their benefits correctly, and it’s, I enjoy it as well, so I had a good time.

Marc: All right, folks, this ends our Social Security Talk podcast, and the final one for 2022.

Until next year, take care and have a great New Year’s. Bye, everybody.

Jim: Bye.

[00:22:31] [END OF AUDIO]

Recorded on 12/8/2022

Recorded on 11/11/2022

Marc: Hello everybody. Welcome to the initial episode of our podcast Social Security Talk. I am your cohost Marc Kiner, joined by the guy in red, Jim Blair. Hello Jim.

Jim: Hello.

Marc: Jim and I own a company called Premier Social Security Consulting. Our focus is twofold to help folks across the country to understand and to maximize their social security benefits. Additionally, we educate advisers across the country, and we focus on situational social security in our eight-hour educational class and how to ask those probing social security questions.

Advisers that take our training have an opportunity to take a test, after they pass the test, they earn the National Social Security Adviser certificate joining about 2,500 advisers across the country that have earned our certificates so far. I’m an inactive CPA,. I sold my CPA practice back in 2012. It was the best decision I could have ever made. Tax seasons as you may or may not know are extremely stressful. After doing taxes for 30 years, I was just not able to continue any longer. Jim, talk about your time with the Social Security Administration, please. I believe you worked there for approximately 35 years.

Jim: Pretty darn close to 35 years. Sometimes that was pretty stressful too, but maybe a little different. Did a number of jobs while I was there. Started off as a service representative, that’s that smiling face you see when you walk in the front door. They generally help people already receiving benefits. They’re missing a check, changing their address, received an overpayment notice, just all kinds of reasons for them to contact the Social Security Administration, and get something taken care of.

Moved into the claims taking part of it. Took claims for retirement survivors’ disability and health insurance for about ten years. Moved into the management end of it. Did a number of jobs there, operations supervisor, management specialist but spent the last nine years as a district manager of the Piqua Ohio office. Piqua, Ohio’s a nice little rural community about 30 miles north of Dayton, Ohio. Regardless of where you are, there’s a Social Security Office fairly close. If you need to visit it, it’s there. It’s open five days a week. It’s the most accessible government office out there.

Marc: Jim, it’s really fate that we’re partners together in this venture, isn’t it?

Jim: That is true.

Marc: Now, as I was getting a little long in the tooth preparing tax returns, I was getting more and more questions about Social Security. I did not know who to go to for answers. Back in 2008, I bought three books on the topic. I read them cover to cover and I ended up with more questions than answers. Social Security is not necessarily a difficult topic or program to learn and understand, but I’ll tell you one thing folks, it is difficult to learn Social Security from a book.

There’re just too many different types of benefits, different types of percentages, different rules and regulations that relate to what is available out there in terms of the Social Security program. I knew I could not offer Social Security consulting services in my accounting practice. One day I was in a local restaurant called the Rusty Bucket. I think it might be more regional, or so, but it’s like a TGIF across the country. An attorney walked in, somebody I’ve known for approximately 10 years, and on a hunch I just asked him if he knew anybody who could educate me about the Social Security Program.

Well, he told me his uncle works for the Social Security Administration and that his uncle’s going to retire about three to four months later. You all know by now, his uncle ended up being the guy in the red shirt. Jim Blair. Jim and I talked in 2009 at the Smokey Bones Restaurant in September of that year. Jim flatly turned me down, didn’t you, Jim?

Jim: Well, that’s true. The plan was just to retire and spend my days out on my boat fishing. You can’t fish every day. Some days it gets cold. I’m a fair-weather fisherman. I guess I would have to say, while I still do get out there occasionally and get my line wet, I still talk about Social Security on occasion because why? Because that’s all I know.

Marc: Then that’s good for me. You’d know Social Security so well which is so exciting. Jim and I talked a few more times in 2009, and then in 2010 we decided to go into business together. That’s when we set up our company Premier Social Security Consulting. At that time our focus was pure and simple to drive up and down the highways here, I71 and I75 talking to advisers that I’ve known for a long time as a CPA. I have a lot of contacts out there.  We discussed Social Security with the advisors to drum up some consulting business.

In 2013, we evolved into an education company when we created the National Social Security Adviser Certificate Program. Jim, I remember early on– we formed our business in 2010. I remember two years later we were in our office on Mentor Avenue in Norwood, a suburb of Cincinnati. We were talking about– it was tough at that point getting enough business to do consultations and make a living at it. We were not certain if we should continue the business or not. Do you remember that conversation we had?

Jim: I do. It was a little tough back then, and that’s because people really didn’t understand at that point, the advantage of knowing someone that knew about Social Security. They thought they could just take care of it themselves. I think over time people have learned that it’s a program. It’s a huge program, a lot to it, a lot of different types of benefits available.

You don’t want to make a mistake and end up losing money. You don’t want to find out several years down the road, hey, I could have done this, but I didn’t and so I lost several thousands of dollars. We want to make sure everybody receives what they’re entitled to receive, and they receive all of what they’re entitled to receive.

Marc: Jim, look, I was thinking about a different aspect of why we weren’t certain of our business was going to succeed, even though you do bring up a very good point, no doubt about that. I realize it does take a while to build a following. We were going up and down the highway. I was going to many marketing shows through the Ohio Society CPA’s, whenever you and I were able to give a presentation, we did.

It was really difficult at that point to build a nice referral network. I talk to advisers all the time. Some advisers only want to make a living, like doing Social Security consulting. I tell them it’s really difficult to do that. That’s because it takes a while two maybe three years, maybe four, to really build a nice referral base where you can get referrals from financial advisers, insurance agents, CPA’s, and enrolled agents, so forth and so on.

The business does not just come overnight. It really takes a while to build that up. We receive referrals all the time now from contacts we established way back in 2010, all the ways up to now, because we still continue to do presentations for organizations throughout the country, either virtual or in person. We’ve built up a nice referral network over that time, and that’s why we do get a whole bunch of referral business.

Jim, in the class that we teach, we focus on two things, Situational Social Security and how to ask those Probing SS Questions. I think Jim, about five years ago, but don’t quote me on that, we came up with the term Situational Social Security, because we know that there are about 76 million baby boomers in the United States. Two baby boomers, just so you know are in front of you. Me, I’m going to be 67 in February of 2023. Jim, I won’t indicate your age. I don’t think you want me to do that.

Jim: Hey, I’m old. What can I say? You know what? It beats the alternative. That’s what I’m happy about.

Marc: It sure does.

Jim: That’s right.

Marc: With 76 million babu boomers, Situational Social Security means that every family unit has a different situation that’s unique to them. Jim Blair, he’s the guy in our company that does all the Social Security consulting for us. Jim, if you meet with 10 married couples, will they all have the same options available to them?

Jim: It’s funny, they all have something a little bit different. We’re going to look at couples that are close in age, both have a good solid work history, and they’re just going to file off of their own work record. We have other couples where one individual worked, the other one maybe stayed at home and didn’t have such a good work history, so they’re going to draw retirement and maybe a spousal benefit. Then maybe there’s children involved. They could have minor children, disabled children. Could have an ex-spouse in their past, a deceased spouse in their past. There’s all sorts of different situations out there that everybody is a little bit different.

Marc: That’s why we teach our class. Jim, before we talk further about Situational Social Security, let’s tell everybody what exciting news came out yesterday. I know you’re not supposed to give dates when you do podcasts and radio shows, but what the heck? October 13th, 2022, what came out yesterday?

Jim: That announcement for the upcoming cost-of-living adjustment among other things that changes that Social Security has, but that’s the big one. That’s what everybody was looking for. It’s the biggest one we’ve seen in 40 years since around 1982. We’re looking at 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment. That means everybody on Social Security will receive an 8.7% COLA adjustment, but you know what? It’s not just people receiving Social Security. If you’re age 62 or older, you get that COLA added to your benefit, even if you haven’t filed yet. That’s exciting for a lot of people.

We get a lot of folks calling us when these announcements are made and they say, “Should I go ahead and file, so I get this nice big cost-of-living adjustment?” The answer is, no, you don’t have to. You get it whether you filed or not, as long as you’re age 62. The year you turn 62, COLA start getting added to your benefit.

Marc: It’s amazing, Jim, how many advisors ask us that question? Even those advisors that we’ve educated. Another question I’m getting from our advisors, Jim, about the COLA is somebody wants to begin their benefits, let’s say October or November this year. Should they begin their benefits October, November, or December of this year, or should they wait until next year, and how might that affect their opportunity to get the full 8.7% COLA increase?

Jim: People are interested in when to start the benefits. That goes with what we talked about before. People don’t want to make a mistake. You want to make sure you do it right. Now, the good news is that one’s a pretty simple answer and we can tell them, doesn’t matter when you begin the benefits, you’ll get the cost-of-living adjustment. What’s going to affect the amount of your benefit is your full retirement age. Whether you start benefits before that on that date, or even wait until after that date. The filing date isn’t of concern for that cost-of-living adjustment.

Marc: I turned age 62 on February 13th, 2018. I’ve been getting COLA adjustments ever since. The year I turned 62, 63, 64, 65, and of course the current one, I’m currently 66. That’s a good point, Jim. Beginning at age 62, you will get the COLA increase if you’re receiving a benefit or not. That is correct, right?

Jim: That is correct. Now, I’m not going to say how long I’ve been getting cost-of-living adjustments, but let’s just say I got quite a few of them under my belt. It’s always nice to get the cost-of-living adjustment and at least this year it’s not going to get eaten up by the Medicare Part B premium increase because the premium is actually going down and that’s the first time that’s happened for many, many years. People will get their 8.7% COLA, and even if they have Medicare, they’ll see a little bit more in their check because of the reduction in the Medicare premium.

Marc: That was really good news. Jim, you and I have been talking about what the Medicare Part B premium might be for 2023. Midway through the year or so, I started to read some articles that the Medicare premium for 2023 for Part B might be coming down. In actuality, it came down maybe what, $5 to $5.20 a month?

Jim: I think it’s $510 or $520 a month. I think it was $5.20. It came down from $170.10 to $164.90, I believe.

Marc: And change.

Jim: And change.

Marc: I got it. Two things are happening, folks for Social Security recipients that will be receiving benefits in 2023. Number one, they’re going to receive a nice 8.7% increase for COLA. Number two, their Medicare premium is coming down, which is really nice. Jim, are you currently receiving Social Security?

Jim: I get a little pitiful check. I say pitiful because I’m a civil service employee and I’m subject to this wonderful provision called WEP, the Windfall Elimination Provision. When I worked at the Social Security office, and this always surprised people, I didn’t pay into Social Security, I paid into the civil service program. As a result, mine isn’t all that high, but I do get a check and I always look forward to it. It helps pay for my Medicare and it helps pay for a few other things.

Marc: I began my Social Security folks in June of 2022. I was born in 1956. That means my Full Retirement Age is 66 and four months, which equates to June of 2022. I’m single, nobody’s going to collect off me when I’m gone fishing for the final time. As a result, I decided to begin my benefits at my full retirement age. That was June of 2022.

A lot of people would disagree with my decision. They may say, “You should have waited until age 68, 69, maybe age 70.” Because we all know that benefits do go up for delayed retirement credits all the way up until age 70. A lot of people say I should have done that. However, I can use the money to pay estimated taxes, pay off some bills, etc. I just bought a new car. I’ve got some loans to pay off. I can invest the money. For me, Jim, it made a lot of sense for me to go ahead and begin my benefits in June. I always look forward to the third Wednesday of each month, don’t I?

Jim: You do. That’s the important thing about Social Security and the decision that people make. What’s good for you isn’t good for the person sitting next to you. When somebody says, “You made a mistake, you shouldn’t have filed at Full Retirement Age.” You did what was best for you and that’s what everybody needs to do. We want people to maximize their Social Security benefit.

Now, technically, maximizing means you wait until age 70, you get the most amount of money.  But we want them to maximize Social Security within their particular situation. That’s where Situational Social Security comes from. Everybody is different, and what’s best for you isn’t best for your neighbor. You must do what’s best for you.

Marc: Getting back to married couples, Jim, it depends on a lot of factors, doesn’t it? Are both the husband and wife eligible for Social Security benefits? How close in age are they? Do they have young kids? Like you said, Jim, that reminded me of a client that we had several years ago, Andrew and Luann. Do you remember them?

Jim: Yes. They were a couple and there was definitely a difference in their ages, and there were some young children involved. That’s what we were helping them look at. Does Andrew take his benefit right away at 62 so his children and maybe his wife can get a benefit? Does he wait so he can get a higher benefit later, but then the children don’t receive necessarily at that point? Lots of things for people like that to take into consideration.

Marc: Jim, let’s talk briefly about spousal benefits. When is a lower earner eligible for a spousal benefit off the high earner? What needs to happen?

Jim: Social Security looks at a term, it’s called Primary Insurance Amount. People understand exactly what that means. That’s your benefit you receive at your Full Retirement Age. You have to take the higher earners primary insurance amount or full Retirement Age benefit and you divide that in half. Then if the lower earners, full retirement age benefit is less than that number, then they’re eligible for a spousal benefit. If they never worked, then they’re going to receive half of the worker’s full retirement age benefit when they reach their own full retirement age. It’s going to be based off the higher earner’s work history and the lower earner’s work history. We must look at both of those.

Marc: Jim, let’s get a few laughs out of that. If I was married, again, for my wife to receive a spousal benefit off my work record, I need to be receiving my benefits, right?

Jim: Absolutely, a spouse can’t receive off your record until you actually file for your own benefit.

Marc: If I’m at full retirement age, and I decide that I’d rather wait till age 70 so I get the DRCs and all that, and the highest benefit possible, my wife won’t be eligible for a spousal benefit off my work record until I made 70, four years later.

Jim: That is true, you must file for your benefit, so your wife is eligible for a spousal benefit.  Good news is, if she has her own work history, she can file off of her own work record.

Marc: Well, folks, you can see Jim and I we can talk forever when it comes to Social Security and related matters  We are good at that. We teach an eight-hour class called National Social Security Advisor. We teach that class three ways, live in person, live webinars, and taped on demand. To learn more about what we do, please either send me an email, mkiner@mypremierplan.com, that’s mkiner@mypremierplan.com. Give me a buzz, my direct line is 513-218-8505.

Also, go to our website to learn more about our classes and what we have to offer. Our website is www.premiernssa.com, that is Nancy, Sam, Sam, Apple, say that 10 times Jim.  That is premiernssa.com. Periodically, Jim and I will record these Social Security Talk podcasts. You can see we have a whole lot of fun when we talk about Social Security matters. Additionally, we will have guests on our podcasts from time to time, which we’ll talk about not necessarily specifically Social Security, but some interrelated types of concepts and topics. Jim, any final comments you’d like to make before we zoom out of here for the day?

Jim: Just thanks for checking out our very first podcast and hope to see you in the future. We got lots to talk about, lots to cover.

Marc: For now, this is Social Security Talk saying over and out, bye.

Jim: Bye.

[00:22:45] [END OF AUDIO]

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