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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: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/RTeffect.html to get a better idea of where you stand.

If you need further assistance in your retirement planning, feel free to contact me at dmcmurryiic@msn.com.

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 dmcmurryiic@msn.com 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: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/RTeffect.html to get a better idea of where you stand.

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 dmcmurryiic@msn.com 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