How often do clients ask if Social Security will be there when they retire? How many have no idea that they should be worried at all?
Too many retirees are either misinformed or under-informed about Social Security, how it’s funded, and what the Social Security Administration (SSA) is saying about the health of the program’s future. There’s no shortage of information — and misinformation — about the future of Social Security, so it’s crucial for financial advisors to be a trusted resource for retirees.
This article talks about the possibility of depleted funds, what may occur to save the program, and how you can best help your clients with Social Security retirement planning.
Will There Even Be Social Security In 20 Years?
Clients asking about Social Security disappearing may have read the Trustees Report predicting that the program will be depleted by 2034. Perhaps they’re worried because they’re paying attention to headlines. Stories about the possible demise of Social Security funds are a regular part of the news cycle, often coming with doomsday scenarios that are unfortunately somewhat based in reality.
Without government action to address these potential problems, retiree fears about Social Security funding could become a reality — but we’ve been here before. Changes were made to save the program back in 1983. These changes included:
- Benefit cuts
- Additional taxes
- Strategic benefit increases
However, the big question is whether the same thing will happen now. The best answer to that question: possibly. It’s not a definite answer, so it’s imperative to help your clients prepare for every Social Security scenario. Retirees need to know their options from retirement age to possible Social Security benefit cuts or additional taxes.
What May Change About Social Security to Keep It Alive
Many people retire sooner than they expect, with 44% of men retiring earlier and 61% of women retiring earlier. The top reason for early retirement is health issues, with job elimination not being far behind.
Life will always bring the unexpected, so it’s wise to help clients strategize for various Social Security retirement planning scenarios based on possible retirement age while also accounting for the potential future of Social Security funds.
How Future Changes May Impact Social Security Retirement Planning
There is no shortage of opinions these days about how to “save” Social Security. Since its inception, the program has been a political football, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Your clients can get mixed-up or just misinformed advice from friends, family, news channels, and social media.
This is where financial advisors can truly show their value and provide realistic, measured advice to their clients when it comes to Social Security retirement planning. To start, advisors can educate clients about what the SSA is saying. The SSA released an informative Summary of Provisions That Would Change the Social Security Program, which includes:
- Cost of living (COLA) provisions
- Benefit amount changes
- Retirement age adjustments
With the looming threat of fund depletion mixed with the possible changes to save the program, your clients need to see how any change to Social Security impacts each retiree uniquely.
How to Help Clients Prepare for Retirement with Looming Social Security Changes
The first thing you can do for your clients is to make sure they understand how Social Security is funded and what’s required to keep it going. The second — and best — thing you can do for your clients is to show the numbers that mean something to them.
Use a trusted Social Security benefit cuts calculator to help them quickly understand how much of their Social Security benefits are taxed. Using a calculator alongside comprehensive tools like Social Security Timing® from Covisum® will demonstrate to your client the impact that cuts would have on their current retirement strategy to better prepare.
Be sure to choose a tool updated to the current year so that you can show them realistic numbers. Showing them “worst-case” Social Security retirement planning numbers will help you and your clients adjust other retirement income to make up for the potential cuts.
Find Out More About the Future of Social Security
The best way to help your clients is to stay informed. Social Security can get confusing for retirees, so be sure you can approach your clients with crystal clear information. Start with our latest guide, “How to Add Value Through Social Security Retirement Planning in an Uncertain Environment.”