The media is causing millions of Americans to make a serious mistake when it comes to social security collection strategies. We see articles that discuss ways to “maximize” the social security benefit using clever, new methods such as the “file and suspend” approach. But they completely miss the ball on the most critical issue. They do not stop and ask what your GOALS are for Social Security, which should be the discussed first. Only then should specific strategies be evaluated. Here are a few goals to consider:
- We want to retire at a specific age and start collecting social security
- We want to start claiming benefits as soon as possible
- We want to maximize the income over the years we have together
- We want to minimize any decline in income for the surviving spouse
- We want the surviving spouse to receive the maximum annual benefit
- We want to maximize the survivor benefit (and receive income early)
Once you know your goal, then you can move to the next step and decide how should you collect the benefit. Maximizing the cumulative benefit is just one goal and may be a poor choice once you take the time to compare them to other options.