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Fewer options for altering spousal Social Security claims

June 16, 2013

R eaders come up with the best questions. Sarah, a financial adviser in Los Angeles, is one of them. Sarah asked whether a person who claimed reduced Social Security spousal benefits early, at 62, can do anything to restore a higher benefit....

Why we need to fix Social Security now

June 9, 2013

When the Social Security trustees issued their annual report recently, you could almost hear a collective sigh of relief across the country. The long-range financial outlook for the nation's crucial retirement system is still on track to pay...

Next benefit fortress to fall: Employee health insurance

June 9, 2013

Workplace-based health insurance is following in the footsteps of retirement benefits. In response to rising premiums over the past few years and fear of the unknown when Affordable Care Act changes kick in next year, increasing numbers of employers...

Gaining Social Security expertise can make advisers clients' allies

June 2, 2013

More and more, financial advisers are becoming experts in Social Security-claiming strategies, and their clients are better off as a result. And for those who haven't yet mastered the intricacies of this vital benefits program, there is no shortage...

Avoid getting undone by the do-over strategy

May 26, 2013

One of the biggest challenges of figuring out when to claim Social Security benefits is determining which strategy would maximize benefits for a client. The second challenge is to keep up with any rule changes that could undo the initial decision....

Time to replace the three-legged-stool myth

May 26, 2013

It is time to retire the three-legged stool — the well-worn analogy for retirement security. Face it: With disappearing pensions and inadequate personal savings, the remaining — wobbly — leg of Social Security makes retirement income look...

Sometimes, cash now is better than more cash later

May 12, 2013

I received a really interesting question from an adviser in Minnesota recently who was looking for advice on Social Security-claiming strategies for a newly widowed client. The adviser suggested that in order to maximize her benefits, his 59-year-old...

Social Security software firm offering new service levels

May 5, 2013

Increasingly, financial advisers are interested in incorporating Social Security-claiming strategies into their clients' retirement income plans. But Social Security rules can be downright confounding. To get an accurate estimate of clients'...

Claiming Social Security, you're either married or not

April 28, 2013

I received an interesting question from a reader last week. She asked, “What are the Social Security-claiming rules for a married couple who have been legally separated for years but have not divorced?” In this case, both spouses are older...

Disability automatically converts to retirement benefits at 66

April 21, 2013

A financial adviser in Minneapolis recently received a panicked call from one of his clients asking what would happen to her disability benefits once she reached full retirement age. She had heard that Social Security disability benefits end...

A call to arms for all Mad Men

April 21, 2013

Bashing the retirement services industry has become a national pastime. The story goes like this: The majority of American workers are ill-prepared for retirement because they were deprived of the comfy pensions that were their God-given right....

Study backs delaying benefits

April 7, 2013

After years of preaching the gospel of delaying Social Security benefits, I was gratified to read a new study from Morningstar Inc. saying that most retirees would be better served by waiting until their full retirement age or later to claim...

Pension rule can mean big Social Security cut

March 31, 2013

I received a question from a reader the other day wondering why his ex-spouse was denied Social Security benefits. She collects a pension based on her years as a public school teacher in Rhode Island, where employees in some local jurisdictions...

Alzheimer's epidemic puts advisers — and their practices — at risk

February 24, 2013

The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease is expected to nearly triple by 2050. This impending epidemic will put even more pressure on advisers as they try to help clients prepare for the possibility of a costly health crisis. According...

Tackling online accounts for Social Security a pain

February 24, 2013

Technology is maddening at times. Just ask Bob Taylor, a financial planner from Chicago who works with clients who are in or nearing retirement. After reading my Jan. 28 column, “Social Security goes fully paperless,” he decided to set up...

Social Security goes fully paperless

January 27, 2013

Financial advisers were among the most vocal critics when the Social Security Administration first suspended mailing annual benefit statements to workers as a cost-saving measure in mid-2011. The mailing of these documents that are so crucial...

Why the merry widow is so merry

January 20, 2013

S eniors involved in later-life romances sometimes choose to live together rather than remarry, in order to preserve pension benefits of a previous spouse or to avoid becoming responsible for the debts of their new partner, including long-term-care...

How self-employment made my season bright

January 13, 2013

I spent part of my Christmas holidays estimating my tax liability for 2012. Exciting stuff, huh? But rather than the usual gnashing of teeth that accompanied many of my tax-filing season computations in the past, I was pleased with my initial...

Stay married for a decade to get benefits

December 16, 2012

During a gathering of Social Security wonks at the Newseum in Washington last month, I joked that perhaps marriage vows should be rewritten to raise awareness of the value of Social Security benefits for divorced individuals under certain conditions....

Helping clients in their search for an encore career

November 4, 2012

My older siblings are often my inspiration in researching and writing about retirement. My sister Sue, who will turn 70 next April, has been trawling for a part-time job ever since the dentist she worked for decided to retire last year. After...

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