Although we live in an age where information is often readily available, we still require some expert guidance when it comes to certain topics. Personal finance, in this case preparing for retirement, is an example of one of those areas where it is hard to obtain the right, trustworthy information with ease. If you are thinking about retirement, whether it will be happening soon or many years down the line, you are most likely planning out those years around the idea of social security benefits.
If so, there are 4 myths that come up often when people discuss social security benefits that you should be aware of. Financial planner Don Chamberlin, as the CEO and Founder of The Chamberlin Group, has appeared on Fox 2 Now (KTVI) in St. Louis, MO to set the record straight:
1. 65 is the “Full Retirement Age”
As Don Chamberlin explains in the video below, the full retirement age (FRA) actually depends on the year in which the individual was born. In fact, you can start claiming at any time between 62 and 70. At 62 you can start claiming at a discounted rate but the longer that you put off claiming your benefits, the more money you will get. Don points out that many times, people miss out on thousands of dollars that they could have received in all had they just put off claiming for longer. As for the FRA, for those people retiring soon it is likely to be 66 but if you were born after 1960, it will be 67.
2. It is easy to decide your claiming strategy
It is important to decide on your claiming strategy but it is not exactly easy. The number of claiming strategies that are available to you depend on whether you are single or married, and that can make a huge difference. If you are single, you have 9 different strategies as options. However, if you are married you suddenly have 81 different claiming strategies. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to dedicate time to plan out your retirement. Choosing the worst strategy for yourself or for yourself and your spouse can mean losing out on tens of thousands of dollars down the line.
3. Those who claim Social Security benefits don’t have to pay taxes
Just because you are retired and claiming your Social Security benefits does not mean that you do not have to pay taxes. In fact, Social Security benefits can be taxed up to 85% – that can really put a dent in certain plans post retirement. When preparing to retire, you should evaluate your Social Security benefits with the goal of minimizing tax liabilities as you should do with any source of retirement income.
4. One can live comfortably on Social Security benefits
This claim goes against one of the very foundations of Social Security. Social Security, as Don Chamberlin explains, was not intended to replace a person’s income. In fact, when Social Security was founded the average life expectancy was 64 while Social Security benefits were taken at age 65. So in all, Social Security benefits were designed not to replace income but to supplement other sources of post retirement income. Now with our average life expectancy reaching close to 80 years, it is even more important for retirees who do wish to live comfortable to also have other sources of income post be it regular savings, retirement savings or investments.
Watch Don Chamberlin on St. Louis’ Fox 2 Now (KTVI):