The first question a financial advisor usually asks is what income you need for your first year in retirement. Social Security benefits are a key part of that. But most people do not know what they have coming or where to obtain this information.
Years ago, the Social Security Administration mailed an individualized annual statement highlighting the expected monthly amounts at three different hypothetical retirement ages, depending on your earnings history.
The expected payouts are obviously lower if you take early retirement at age 62. This is why it is more common to stop working at 66 or 67. Some retire as late as 70. Thanks to medical advances, folks are putting off retirement for later, so these ages are likely to keep increasing.
Mailing these informative statements cost the SSA approximately $70 million a year. So it ended the annual mailings. You can still get this information online by providing some personal information to verify your identity. Visit the Social Security Statement Online  website to view your account. It only takes a moment to get access to your records.
Here is what you need to do when you get to the site. After entering your personal information and answering some questions pulled from your credit history, you can create an account and see the same information that used to be on the old paper statements. Then you find out how much you can expect to get after you retire.
Remember that the Social Security Administration only gives you information about your benefits. It doesn’t provide any recommendations on strategy or investment advice to bridge the gap between your Social Security benefits and the total income you need in retirement. This is where your financial advisor comes in. Make sure that you bring your Social Security benefit amount to your advisor on your first meeting if you are seeking help with this.
But to determine your retirement income for you and your loved one, you need to first determine how much comes from this source. Social Security is rarely sufficient for most retirees. Many receive income from investments and some lucky others are entitled to a pension from a former employer.
Since 1935, America kept the promise of security workers and their families. Now, the Social Security system is facing serious financial problems, and we aren’t sure it can be sound when today’s younger workers are ready for retirement.
Without changes in benefits and eligibility dates, by 2033 the Social Security Trust Fund can pay only about 75 cents for each dollar of scheduled benefits, according to the Social Security Trustees’ Annual Report  to the Congress. We need to resolve these issues soon to make sure Social Security continues to provide a foundation of protection for future generations.
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Dan Crimmins is the co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management LLC in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. His websites arewww.CrimminsWM.com  and www.RootsofWealth.com .
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