When preparing retirement plans for clients, confirming the accuracy of Social Security data and estimating Social Security retirement revenue is very important. As a process, we ask to review clients’ benefit statements to make sure that their income, taxes and benefits are reported accurately. If your income or taxes are incorrect in your report, it could be a sign that your employer is miscalculating your income, or worse, not remitting your withheld FICA taxes. If the amount reported by Social Security is greater than your actual wages, it may be a sign that your identity has been stolen and someone is using your Social Security number. Both problems can cost you benefits, time and legal fees. To help clients monitor their benefits, we help them register for online statements at www.socialsecurity.gov. Verifying the accuracy of clients’ Social Security information throughout their working career is valuable for clients of all ages because if there are inaccuracies, we must correct them while data remains available from their employers.
When reviewing your information and benefits, remember that Social Security uses your highest 35 years of income, limits the amount of earnings subject to taxation each year, and uses the same limit when calculating your benefits. Note that the contribution base fluctuates. For example, the contribution and benefit base was $117,000 in 2014 and increased to $118,500 in 2015.
Once the accuracy of your information at Social Security and your benefits are confirmed, we work through the complex rules and regulations to help clients create a strategy to maximize their lifetime benefits. Based on 29 years of planning experience, there are no rules of thumb to use use when making benefit elections. The specific ages and income histories of spouses, both living and deceased, life expectancy and other assumptions will result in strategy options that are specific to each client. Due to the complexities of the calculations, we use software designed specifically to analyze and compare their different life long results.
Plan wisely, verify the accuracy of your information, consider all options before making your Social Security benefit elections, and lastly, make sure you incorporate Social Security into your retirement plan, regardless of your age.
Your goals and dreams change. Financial products do not. Clients work with us because we don’t sell products – we create customized plans based on each client’s unique goals, and we continuously reevaluate client plans to ensure they are aligned with changing needs. Our clients rely on us to protect their futures, and we take their trust to heart.
Tim Scannell, CPA, CFP TM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We deliver proactive, objective advice, plans and solutions enabling our clients to reach their unique family goals “.
Keith Wolak, CPA is a partner at Hoeppner Wagner & Evans. Keith is a Board Certified Indiana Trust and Estate Lawyer, as certified by Trust and Estate Specialty Board. Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP is a law firm with offices in Merrillville and Valparaiso. Visit our website www.hwelaw.com for more information. DISCLAIMER: This publication is not intended to be legal advice but is presented for informational and educational purposes only. The facts and circumstances of a specific legal issue are unique and you should seek legal advice for your specific questions or concerns. No attorney-client relationship is created.