In 2008 baby boomers started turning sixty-two. The discussion about social security began in earnest. With it being an election year the social security debate is front and center.
The debate roars on and nothing gets resolved. I will be sixty-two in a few weeks and so I have been doing a little more reading about social security (SS). So putting the political debate aside, I was surprised by a couple of things that I learned.
Social Security is not as easy as whether I should start my benefits at age 62, 66 or 70. Every case is unique, and women especially need to be aware.
1) The Wharton School’s Retirement Research Center has found that even though women live longer than men, many financial advisers fail to take that into account when they tell clients how to time their SS benefits. This mistake could be very costly for women who outlive their husbands. The study does not answer the question as to why this happens, but offers that the reason could be that most advisers are men, or that most advisers feel that the primary breadwinner is the client, and often that is the man.
2) US News reports that spousal benefits, allowing a person to claim benefits based on their spouse’s earnings, is one of the most complicated areas of the program’s provisions. But options such as: “restricted applications” or “file and suspend” as well as other scenarios can all affect the amount of payments received down the road. Again, this can be critical for a surviving spouse.
So, whether you think that SS can be fixed with adjustments, or you think that in the future it will disappear, the debate lives on. But, in the meantime, I’ll learn the most I can about the options I have now.
This cartoon is from May 1940, we aren’t the first generation to have the social security debate!