Whether you meet your life goals depends upon a number of things, including your support system. The right people at your side can help you make good decisions, overcome barriers and successfully navigate transitions.
Going to the same person for advice will undoubtedly lead you astray at one time or another. After all, no one can be an expert in all subjects. Likewise, just because someone earned the right of inclusion in your circle of trust doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has the requisite skills, experience or knowledge to help you make all decisions.
Most of us know this instinctively. We may call our mothers with some health-related questions about our children, and turn to our pediatrician for others.
Likewise, while many of us know to trust our own instincts, we also know that in matters that are unfamiliar, complex and have major life implications, we should seek professional guidance or at least consult with someone who knows more than we on the particular topic.
It is in that vein that many individuals who are approaching retirement contact the Social Security Administration. They may have questions about when to start receiving benefits and may struggle with all of the facets, such as spousal benefits, survival benefits and disability.
The Social Security Administration is a tremendous resource. But here’s an important distinction: You can rely upon it for information, but not for help in making your decisions.
Social Security representatives cannot give election advice. Even if they were permitted to give election advice, their perspective would be too narrow to provide the insight you need. SSA representatives in general are trained to provide monthly benefit amounts for individuals at different election ages. They are not trained to provide advice on creating lifetime income for a family.
Your best bet with any major financial decision, such as your Social Security election, insurance coverages, retirement, education, tax or legacy planning, is to have a professional thoroughly analyze your unique situation and weigh all of your options. Working with an experienced professional, who considers the totality of your financial picture, can make it significantly easier to find answers that make sense for your like, goals and financial situation.
Please feel free to email questions about Social Security or other financial matters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bibi Taylor and Justin Anderson will be teaching "Savvy Social Security Planning: What Boomers Need to Know" on May 7 through Santa Barbara City College’s Center for Lifelong Learning. To enroll, please click here.
— Bibi Taylor, MBA, is a wealth manager for AmeriFlex, 3700 State St., Suite 310, in Santa Barbara. Call 805.898.0893 for more information.