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Your Health

Bibi Taylor: No Simple Answers to Seemingly Simple Social Security Questions

Bibi Taylor
Bibi Taylor

As more clients come to us seeking advice on retirement, a common theme emerges. They have questions about Social Security. They get confused and downright frustrated trying to navigate the muddy waters of when to collect benefits.

During our Social Security classes, we address the multitude of questions. We experience firsthand the confusion that overcomes many as we discuss the different strategies that apply to many but certainly not all. There are exceptions to every strategy and a number of factors that affect the Social Security equation.

The bottom line is this. Even though your question is simple, like “When should I collect?” there are no simple answers. Everyone’s circumstances are unique.

Age, earnings, savings, type of savings, yields on savings, longevity, tax rate, marital status, need for income to match expenses, other forms of durable income — all play a piece of the puzzle.

Many articles have been written about the 8 percent delayed credit you receive each year benefits are delayed between full retirement age and age 70. In the low-yield environment we now live, 8 percent looks appealing. But that 8 percent comes at a cost. You must sacrifice income you would receive from Social Security for a year or more. There are tax consequences. Survivor benefits may increase in years to come with delaying a benefit. All of these factors must be evaluated.

Do not despair. There is an answer to your simple question. It just takes a thorough analysis of your situation before we can get there. With some probing, and looking at a bigger financial picture, the answer that makes the most sense for your life, goals and financial situation will appear.

Please feel free to email questions about Social Security to [email protected].

— Bibi Taylor, MBA, is a wealth manager for AmeriFlex, 3700 State St., Suite 310, in Santa Barbara. Call 805.898.0893 for more information.

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