Educational Workshops: Learn to Optimize Your Social Security Benefits

Join us for a complimentary workshop on Maximizing your Social Security Income- Secrets for Married Couples to Boost their Benefits. The right social security planning strategy could be worth up to $100,000 in lifetime benefits. For married couples, finding the right strategy means sifting through 567 different filing combinations. Take the guesswork out of these important financial decisions and join us in this one hour class to learn…

  • How to pinpoint the best time for YOU to start collection benefits.
  • How it can pay to delay- but is a higher benefit at a later age worth the wait?
  • How can you apply for a Delayed Retirement Credit?
  • Ways to navigate through the twists and turns for widows, widowers and devorcees.
  • How certain types of earnings and pensions can affect your benefits.
  • Inflation protection to help you keep up with rising living expenses during retirement.
  • Start, Stop, Start- how one maneuver supercharges the survivor benefit.
  • How to take a spousal benefit worth up to 50% of the other spouse’s benefit.

You will also receive a free, personalized Social Security Maximization Report. Choose the event that works best for you:

Thursday, October 17, 2013 from 6:30-7:30pm at Mesa Community College


Saturday, October 19, 2013 from 10:00am-11:00am at Gilbert SE Regional Library

Call 1-800-428-1743 to reserve your seat quickly. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to increase the benefits you have worked hard for and deserve.

We’ll see you there!

COLA is More Than a Fizzy Sweet Soda Pop!

MB900430472‘COLA’ in the Social Security world stands for ‘Cost-of-Living Adjustments’. Maybe not as tasty as the cola we’ve grown up to love, but very important as it affects your Social Security benefits.

Every October, the Social Security Administration announces the amount by which monthly benefits will be increased starting that following January. This COLA is based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index from the third quarter of one year through the third quarter of the following year.

As mentioned in our last post, “Are You Applying for Social Security Too Late or Too Soon?” retirees can delay their benefits to increase their benefits. These COLA’s also apply to those retirees, meaning their primary insurance amount (PIA) will be increased each year by the amount of the announced COLA.

There is really no way to know exactly what COLA’s will be year over year, but inflation does apply. The Social Security trustees estimate annual inflation adjustments of 2.8% under their intermediate-cost scenario. So even though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly, it’s definitely something you want to factor into your retirement planning. Access the Retirement Earnings Test Calculator on the Social Security website: to get a better idea of where you stand.

If you need further assistance in your retirement planning, feel free to contact me at

By Doug McMurry, Owner of Integrated Insurance Concepts in Arizona

Are You Applying for Social Security Too Late or Too Soon?

Everyone who is reaching the age of 62 is wondering whether they should apply for social security right away to grab as much as they can as soon as they can, or whether they should delay benefits to receive the higher amount.

It really depends on your personal situation. For example, if you’re still working, it may not make sense to apply for early benefits. But, if you’re not working and having trouble making ends meet, then it might make sense to grab those benefits early. It really depends on your overall financial plan, but here are a few things to take note of…

  • At age 66, you can receive your full, unreduced primary insurance amount (PIA).
  • If you delay the onset of benefits past age 66, you will earn delayed credits. For each year you delay, your benefit will increase by 8% up until age 70. For example, if ‘Bob’ waits until age 70 to apply, his $2,466 PIA will be increased by 32% to $3,255!
  • You can apply anytime between your 66th and 70th birthdays and receive prorated credit for the delay.
  • Applying at 70 earns you the most credit and results in the highest benefit.

Contact me at to receive a free Social Security planning evaluation to help you make the decision that’s best for you. You can also access the Retirement Earnings Test Calculator on the Social Security website: to get a better idea of where you stand.

By Doug McMurry, Owner of Integrated Insurance Concepts in Arizona


The History of Social Security

MH900422392In order to understand social security a little better, it’s helpful to take a step back in time to see why it was established and how it has helped Billions of Americans overcome poverty.

During the Great Depression, poverty rates among senior citizens reached 50%. With the famous crash of 29, many retirees’ live savings were completely lost. Not many Americans were left unharmed but for those unable to physically work, times were harder and hope was low.

The Social Security Act was established in 1935 first as a self-financing program that would collect payroll taxes from workers which would then be paid out in benefits to retirees. President Roosevelt signed the Act on August 14, 1925 and become the first president to advocate federal assistance for the elderly.

Justic Benjamin Cardozo said, “The hope behind this statute is to save men and women from the rigors of the poorhouse, as well as from the haunting feat that such a lot awaits them when journey’s end is near.”

During those early years, debates centered on how the program’s benefits should be funded: While one side thought the funding should be contributions that workers make themselves over the course of their careers, others argued for those who were already into their careers at the time of the program’s implementation and would be at a great disadvantage.

Despite some disagreements, Millions of Americans depend on Social Security today. For many, it is their primary source of retirement income. For others, it is an important supplement to pensions and personal savings. But one thing is for sure- Social Security has been a great step in helping our country’s elderly.

To learn more about social security and how you can fully optimize your benefits, please contact me at or visit my website:

By Doug McMurry, Owner of Integrated Insurance Concepts in Arizona

Are You Spending Your Money Wisely?

As a financial advisor, I advise all sorts of people how to spend and save more wisely and it’s surprising what people spend way too much on. This article on CNNMoney highlights the top 12 money wasters, but here are my favorite five that I can relate to:

  1. Leaving Your Stuff in a Storage Unit could be costing you $480-$1800 a year. I recommend going through all that stuff and making decisions to lighten your load and put cash in your pocket book!
  2. Leaving Rewards, Points, and Miles Unused could be costing you over $200 a year. A cool site called lets you manage all your points and rewards in one place.
  3. Weekly Visits to the Dry Cleaners could be costing you over $475 a year. It could be worth some investment of time to see how to get out that coffee stain or remove smelly odors on your own.
  4. Failing to Program Your Thermostat could be costing you $180 a year. Taking just a few minutes to set up your device could help you save.
  5. Scattering Your Insurance Policies could be costing you $300 a year. By bundling your home, auto, and life insurance, you could save up to 25% a year.

By simply avoiding these five money wasters, you could save close to $2,000 a year. Now that’s savings!

For more advice on how to reach financial freedom, please contact me at or visit my website:

By Doug McMurry, Owner of Integrated Insurance Concepts in Arizona


Cover the Basics to Ensure a Good Tax Return

Yes, it’s that time of year again! For some of you, tax season is a good thing and for others, it’s one you dread. Filing your 2012 tax return can leave a lot of unanswered questions, leaving you fearful of an audit. But whether you’re filing personal or for your business, there are a few basics to keep in mind:

–        Don’t Be Tardy: By filing and paying your taxes on time, you will avoid late fees and be at less chance of getting audited. Tardiness is a red flag to the government.

–        Too Much Return Could Be A Bad Thing: If you receive a big refund each year, you’re having too much money withheld from your paycheck. This is similar to giving the government an interest-free loan.

–        Determine Your Tax Bracket: Your tax bracket is the percent at which the highest portion of your income is taxed. By knowing this, you can save money, investing in things that ensure a high return.

–        Understand Tax Documents And Their Purpose:

  • W-2 Forms- reports how much money you made at your job and how much tax you paid for the year.
  • 1099-G- reports unemployment compensation or state tax refunds.
  • 1099-R- reports retirement-plan income.
  • 1099-MISC- reports income if you’re an independent contractor, collected rent, or received royalties.
  • Other 1099s, such as the 1099-B, 1099-DIV, and 1099-INT- report income from financial transactions.

With over 40 years of experience in the insurance and financial services business, we can teach you methods that may help minimize taxes now and in the future. Please contact me at for more information or visit my website:

By Doug McMurry, Owner of Integrated Insurance Concepts in Arizona

Maximize Your Social Security: Working While Collecting

Retirement is a time of excitement for a whole new chapter in life, but it’s also a time of research to ensure you’re maximizing you social security benefits…

My last post, “Maximize Your Social Security: Will Not Getting a Paycheck for Multiple Years Reduce Your Social Security Benefits” talked about how to plan ahead for retirement while this post is diving into those details right before you reach the ripe old age of retirement.

You most likely already know that you can collect social security during the year of your 66th birthday…even if you’re still working. What you may not realize is that if you are still working, you could lose out on a lot of money if you’re not careful. This is one year where you don’t want to make a lot of money until your 66th birthday. If you have a January birthday, you don’t have to worry as much as someone who has a birthday in November and is planning to work that full year.

With these variables come a lot of questions and ones you really need to take the time to answer. For example, you may be better off retiring sooner than you thought or would be smart to wait a few more months. Our government doesn’t make it easy on our soon to be retirees, but there is help out there if you need someone to walk through the details with. Contact me at for more information or visit my website:

By Doug McMurry, Owner of Integrated Insurance Concepts in Arizona

Maximize Your Social Security: Will Not Getting a Paycheck Reduce Social Security Benefits?

Whether you’re on the verge of retirement or starting young at your first job, questions about how to maximize your social security benefits may be on your mind.

There was a great question posted on AARP that highlights a few key factors of getting the most from your social security. A 50 year old is retired after 35 years of work and planning to begin social security retirement benefits at the age of 67, but wonders if not getting a paycheck for over 17 years will reduce his benefits.

Not working for those 17 years won’t hurt what he has already made, but it’s important to remember one key point: Higher earners generally get more in benefits than lower earners. This means that if 17 years of work could increase the average indexed monthly earnings, then he’ll be sitting better by the time he’s 67 years old and collecting social security.

As with any financial decision, the choice is personal. But it’s also your choice to figure out how much you could be missing out on. If you need help running this type of calculation, please feel free to contact me at for more information.

Have another question about maximizing your social security? Please share by commenting below.

By Doug McMurry, Owner of Integrated Insurance Concepts in Arizona

How to Manage Your Healthcare in 2013

With the recent passing of the Health Reform Law, many people are wondering how their healthcare is going to change in 2013. There are two main changes for you to take note, but most of the big changes are being ironed out and will be in effect in 2014. The 2013 changes include,

  • There is now a cap set for flexible spending accounts at $2,500.
  • All health plans are required to use standard forms to explain costs so you can compare health plans easier and with no bias.

As I mentioned before, significant changes don’t take effect until 2014 and a lot of work is currently going on at the state and federal levels. Small businesses can then purchase their own health plans next year. In 2013, you’ll see the same trends as previous years, such as employees bearing the majority of their healthcare costs at an average of $1,100 per month.

Are you managing your healthcare and finances to ensure you receive the money that’s owed to you? If you doubt it and need an expert’s advice, please feel free to contact us at Integrated Insurance Concepts. We can make sure you stay financially free in 2013, from healthcare to taxes. Contact me at for more information.

By Doug McMurry, Owner of Integrated Insurance Concepts in Arizona

Why is Your Paycheck Smaller in 2013?

As you’re opening your first paychecks of 2013, you may think for a split second, ‘there’s been a mistake’. Unfortunately, it’s no mistake: Social Security tax has increased its withholding from 4.2% to 6.2% and this is making a dent in paychecks around the country.

According to this article on Yahoo, Roberton Williams, a tax economist and the Sol Price Fellow at the Tax Policy Center in Washington, said the expiration of the payroll-tax cut will leave the average American household with $18 to $20 less to spend each week, or $900 to $1,000 a year.

Although upsetting, placing the blame on the government won’t change anything for the time being. There are however, other ways to make this dent in pay bearable:

  1. Instead of eating out 1-2 a week, try to schedule and plan meals on Sundays. Eating out is that ‘go to’ vice when we’ve had a busy day and are just too tired to even think about what to make. A little planning go a long way and put more money in your pocketbook.
  2. Try cheaper brands for things like toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, and more. We all have things we prefer to splurge on, but it can make a big difference to plan ahead on what brands you can be flexible with.

If you need help making your money count with this recent payroll tax increase, feel free to contact us at Integrated Insurance Concepts. We can make sure you stay financially free in 2013, even if you have to cut corners in some areas. Contact me at for more information.


By Doug McMurry, Owner of Integrated Insurance Concepts in Arizona