Mary Beth Franklin

Retirement 2.0blog

Mary Beth Franklin - also known as the 'client whisperer' - on what your clients really want when they talk about retirement.

Jun 18, 2014, 11:06 AM EST

Social Security planning comes to the workplace

By Mary Beth Franklin

Social Security planning has taken a giant step into the workplace, and retirement planning may never be the same.Financial Engines announced Wednesday that it is now offering integrated Social Security and income planning to help near-retirees maximize their household income in retirement.With more than $88 billion of assets under management, Financial Engines is the nation's largest independent adviser, working with more than 550 employers and providing investment help to more than 9 million employees.“Social Security is incredibly complex and most people miss out on tens of thousands of dollars in benefits because they don't have anyone to help them figure out the way to claim,” Financial Engines chief investment officer Christopher Jones said. “By considering Social Security in combination with your 401(k), you can unlock hidden value and dramatically increase your retirement income.”Financial Engines is... Read full post

Jun 12, 2014, 11:04 AM EST

Delayed retirement reduces health care costs

By Mary Beth Franklin

I know I must sound like a broken record (or an iPod in permanent shuffle mode), but delaying retirement by even a few years can have a big impact on a client's retirement income plan, thanks to higher Social Security benefits and by allowing their savings to continue to grow untapped.But here's another reason to defer a retirement date by a few years: lower out-of-pocket health care costs.Couples retiring at age 65 are expected to incur $220,000 in health care costs on average during their retirement years, according to the 2014 Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate released Thursday by Fidelity Investments. The estimate, which is unchanged from 2013, does not include the added expenses of nursing home or long-term care.But couples who decide to retire at 62 — before they are eligible for Medicare —are likely to spend an extra $17,000 per year for a total of $271,000 during retirement, the Fidelity survey found. The extra... Read full post

Jun 2, 2014, 4:00 PM EST

Social Security support tools a big hit with financial advisers

By Mary Beth Franklin

Financial product manufacturers and distributors have found that one of the best ways to win the hearts and minds of financial advisers is to provide Social Security support tools ranging from educational brochures to sophisticated software.That was the finding of a report examining the types of programs that asset managers, insurance companies and broker-dealers typically provide to financial advisers. Programs focused on Social Security, as well as adapting portfolios to a low-interest rate environment, were the most widely used during the past year, according to the report, “Value Add Support to Financial Advisors — Insights and Opportunities 2014,” released Monday by Practical Perspectives, an independent consulting and research firm.Based on input from 600 financial advisers gathered through an online survey in May, the report analyzes how these programs influence advisers' perceptions and behaviors. Those... Read full post

May 28, 2014, 3:31 PM EST

How to reap the benefits of Social Security's rearview mirror

By Mary Beth Franklin

I bumped into a former colleague at a memorial service recently. It seems I've been attending lots of memorial services recently. Old journalists are dropping like flies. But retired scribes craft the best eulogies. Who could top this bon mot delivered during a gathering at the National Press Club in Washington? “Before there was Google, there was Judy. She could find the answer to anything.”During that event, I was catching up with old friends. One noted that he had turned 66 earlier this year and is still working for a major news service, but is thinking of retiring. He happened to mention that he has a 13-year-old son.“Don't make any decisions until you talk to me,” I told him.(More: 10 ways to maximize Social Security benefits)When he contacted me a few weeks later, I explained that since he had already reached his magic age of 66, he could file and suspend to trigger Social Security benefits for his son,... Read full post

May 23, 2014, 2:18 PM EST

Test how much you know about Social Security

By Mary Beth Franklin

In case you missed my previous blog, let me recap. I've just returned from the annual InvestmentNews Retirement Income Summit, held May 12-13 in Chicago. It was a great opportunity to connect with my readers.But as this was the fourth year that I have presented at the summit explaining basic Social Security rules and claiming strategies, I decided to change things up a bit. So instead of taking questions from the audience, I turned the tables and asked the audience questions.(Click here to access Mary Beth Franklin's new e-book, "Maximizing Your Clients' Social Security Retirement Benefits)It was a great success and several attendees asked me to share the questions and answers as real-life case studies of client situations. Here are the rest of the questions that were discussed during the session:Question #6Does claiming a reduced spousal benefit early affect the survivor benefit amount?Answer #6Not necessarily. Retirement benefits and ... Read full post

May 19, 2014, 2:15 PM EST

Role reversal: Readers answer Social Security questions

By Mary Beth Franklin

I always look forward to the annual InvestmentNews Retirement Income Summit, which allows me to connect with many of my readers in person. This year's summit, held May 12-13 in Chicago, was no exception. But as many of the hundreds of attendees are repeat visitors, I wondered what I could do to shake things up and hold their attention for yet another one of my presentations on Social Security rules and claiming strategies.I decided the best way to help financial advisers understand the often-complex Social Security rules was to pose real-life client situations — typical of the questions that I receive every day — and to ask the members of the audience what they would do. Knowing that some people might be reluctant to attempt an answer a question in front of more than 200 strangers, I added an incentive: gift cards. Every answer, right or wrong, was rewarded with a gift card to Amazon, iTunes and a variety of other vendors.... Read full post

May 12, 2014, 11:13 AM EST

The tricky first-year rule for working while collecting Social Security

By Mary Beth Franklin

InvestmentNews readers ask the best questions. Tom Milinovich, a financial adviser and certified public accountant from Waynesboro, Pa., asked how the Social Security earnings test is applied to people younger than full retirement age if they retire in mid-year.Generally, you can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. But, if you are younger than full retirement age and earn more than certain amounts, your benefits will be reduced. It is important to note that these benefit reductions are not truly lost. Your benefit will be increased at your full retirement age to account for benefits withheld due to earlier earnings. (However, spouses and survivors who receive benefits because they have minor or disabled children in their care do not receive increased benefits at full retirement age if benefits were withheld because of work.)If you are younger than full retirement age during all of 2014, the... Read full post

May 9, 2014, 11:16 AM EST

Social Security earnings limits can reduce spousal benefits, too

By Mary Beth Franklin

Most InvestmentNews readers know that collecting Social Security benefits before full retirement age while still working can lead to a temporary reduction in retirement benefits. But did you know it can also reduce payments to family members — such as your spouse or minor dependent children — who collect benefits on your record?Thanks to one of my loyal readers for pointing out this little-known provision.“I recently found that your spouse's spousal benefits are also withheld if you earn greater than the annual earnings test limit,” Alina Lee, a Social Security specialist with Cassaday & Company Inc. of McLean, Va., wrote in a recent e-mail. “So if you make well above the limit, your benefits will be withheld and the Social Security Administration will also withhold any spousal benefits if needed.”Ms. Lee, a paraplanner with the Washington-area firm, noted that she hadn't personally encountered this... Read full post

Apr 21, 2014, 3:31 PM EST

Social Security to resume mailing paper statements to some workers

By Mary Beth Franklin

Paper Social Security benefit statements are making a comeback — sort of. In response to my query last week, Social Security Administration spokesman William Jarrett confirmed that the agency will resume mailing personalized estimated benefit statements to some American workers in September.But not everyone will receive a paper statement and the ones who do will receive it only every five years.“Social Security is finalizing a plan to increase the number of people receiving Social Security statements annually,” Mr. Jarrett wrote in an e-mail. “We will continue to promote the use of our online statement and will continue to educate visitors to our field offices and help them register for 'My Social Security'” online accounts, he said.The SSA began mailing annual estimated benefit statements to workers 25 and older in 1999. The annual paper statements became a critical financial planning tool that provided... Read full post

Apr 14, 2014, 4:21 PM EST

Social Security survivor benefits after botched second marriages

By Mary Beth Franklin

In the country music world, you're supposed to “dance with the one that brung ya.” But the protocol is different in Social Securityland. If you've been married twice and the second union ends in divorce, it may be OK to leapfrog back to spouse No. 1 when it comes time to claim benefits.An interesting letter from an InvestmentNews reader illustrates this point:“If a woman's husband dies and she remarries prior to age 60 and subsequently divorces her second husband, can she collect survivor benefits off of the deceased first spouse?” the reader asked.What do you think?The adviser from St. Louis thought the divorced spouse would be out of luck because she remarried before age 60 and the second marriage, which ended in divorce, did not last the requisite 10 years needed to claim benefits on an ex-spouse's earnings record.“She will have only her own work record to count on for her Social Security benefits,... Read full post

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