Will I receive the amount reflected on my Social Security statement? What happens if I retire at age 60 but do not start collecting until full retirement age (FRA)? Can I start collecting benefits and change my mind? If I have never worked, am I eligible for any Social Security benefits? What will happen to my benefits if I collect but continue to work beyond full retirement age?

Do any of these questions sound familiar? As financial advisors, we see firsthand the worry and concern surrounding “the big decision.” Some people may think collecting as soon as possible is the way to go, but does that put you at risk of outliving your checks? Would it be beneficial to wait a few years to begin collecting?

Last week, we hosted our most popular seminar at Calhoun’s on the River, What You Need to Know About Social Security. Cullen Roberts, an Investment Consultant from BlackRock, was our guest speaker. Well-versed in Social Security benefits, he spoke to the room about their biggest FAQs. He discussed qualifying for benefits, determining your FRA, working while collecting, collecting now versus later, and your family collection decision. The “family collection” decision, as he described it, is the strategy you’ll use to make the most of spousal benefits, survivor benefits, and then choosing between those benefits, if necessary. The final topic he went over was taxation of benefits.

While there are many uncertainties, we know one thing to be true: Each individual’s situation is different. Making a hasty decision could be harmful to your financial future. Cullen said, “Deciding when to begin taking benefits is an important and multifaceted consideration.” Gathering all your information, knowing all your options, and discussing all of this us can help you feel more confident in your decision. We work to help you build a Social Security strategy that complements your retirement plan. The last thing you want to do is leave money in the program.

We always have a great time hosting this event! Throughout the dinner, we encourage questions and like to add examples and hypothetical situations. We thank all of those who attended and to those who couldn’t, we hope to have you at the next one! It’s a great intro to understanding your Social Security benefits. If you would like us to send you a copy of the corresponding Social Security literature, please call us (865) 226.9982.

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