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How to Optimize Your Social Security Benefit

Social securityWhen should you turn on the tap that gets your Social Security benefits flowing? When should you start taking your Social Security benefits?

The current common advice is to wait as long as possible, in order to maximize your eventual monthly benefit. In fact, AARP launched a new online calculator to help you decide when to start taking benefits … and it clearly illustrates the benefits to claiming later. The calculator is a useful tool, and worth checking out, but as Reuters Wealth points out, the calculator is not totally neutral, and lacks advanced features that could allow you to estimate more complex situations.

For example, the AARP calculator does not allow you to figure out when you should start benefits if you are no longer working and have to weigh savings withdrawals against starting benefits. It also won’t allow you to figure the tax impact of your decisions, which can be sizable. Further, it really does not allow you to compare the outcome of various scenarios in which you and your spouse choose different start dates to coordinate benefits.

For those types of complex calculations, you probably will still want to consult with a professional who can help identify issues pertinent to your unique situation. Other websites with helpful calculators include:

  •  Should you Start Social Security Early
  •  Break-Even Calculator
  • Social Security Administration.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.

Reference: Reuters Wealth – (July 12, 2011) Now or Later? AARP’s new Social Security Calculator?

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