The baby boom retirement wave is here, and that means hundreds of thousands of potential clients asking, “When should I file for Social Security?”
If you aren’t helping answer this question, you’re missing out on one of the biggest opportunities to grow your business. Social Security is a topic that attracts prospects at a critical time – the start of their retirement journey, when they’re hungry for advice on one of the most important decisions they’ll make in retirement. If you help them make an informed decision and maximize their benefit at this juncture, you’ll win their business for that journey.
With the right support and technology, incorporating Social Security planning into your existing practice can be simple and can produce both immediate and long-term, sustained growth. But first, let’s explore why the claiming decision is so important.
Social Security is an important source of retirement income. When and how clients file for benefits can have a significant impact on how much guaranteed lifetime income they’ll receive.
Social Security is unique in that it is the only income stream with all six of these characteristics – it is inflation-adjusted, provides lifelong income, has preferential tax treatment when compared to other income sources, is backed by a government promise and has spousal benefits.
For some people, Social Security could be the largest piece of their retirement income pie. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), Social Security benefits typically account for a replacement rate of roughly 40%, and total retirement income – Social Security combined with other income such as pensions and asset income – should aim to replace about 70% of preretirement earnings. Even for people with a sizeable retirement income from other sources, Social Security benefits deserve attention in retirement planning, because they can add up over time and can impact how other income is taxed.
Clients who take benefits before their full retirement age will see their monthly benefits reduced by as much as 25%. However, they receive more checks over time. Those who delay benefits until their full retirement age get fewer checks, but the benefits and subsequent cost-of-living adjustments will be larger. So, for someone with a full retirement age of 66, delaying claiming until age 70 would increase their monthly benefit by 32%.
Delaying isn’t the only way to maximize benefits, however.
Social Security has many combinations of rules and benefits that can impact the claiming decision, and everyone’s situation is different. Three primary factors impact how much a client will receive – earnings history, election age, and life expectancy. Other factors influencing the decision include health, marital status, other income and desire to continue working. Continuing to work while receiving benefits is possible, but there are some limitations depending on their age. If a person younger than their full retirement age earns above a certain amount, their benefits will be reduced.
Marital status is a big factor, because Social Security is generous to married couples and provides benefits even if a spouse never worked or didn’t have enough credits to be eligible for benefits. There are three types of benefits offered to those who were married: spousal, divorced and survivor benefits. Understanding options and making informed decisions can help you maximize your clients’ benefits.
You can even help clients who’ve already filed for Social Security but who may have made a mistake.
But how? With so many combinations of factors influencing an individual’s benefits, how do you possibly calculate, compare and recommend the best claiming time for your clients?
While Social Security is complex, technology is available that simplifies it for both advisors and clients to understand.
Total Social Security® is the Senior Market Sales® program that gives you everything you need, including the best-in-the-industry claiming software that pioneered the Social Security planning space. And it’s available at no cost to contracted advisors.
You simply type client information into the software, and the technology does the complicated calculations for you. Easy-to-understand charts show clients how you can help them get the most out of their Social Security benefits. This is an impactful way of showing your value – in real dollars that you could add to their retirement income – and helps you earn their trust at the start of their retirement journey.
The software also can help you show clients where their Social Security income may fall short, opening the door for you to suggest specific product solutions, whether life and long-term care insurance or annuities.
If you’re starting to see why Social Security is an important piece of retirement planning and how technology makes it easier than ever to help clients, you’re likely asking, “But how do you reach those prospects before competitors do?”
Educational workshops are one of the most effective lead-generation tactics in the market today, and Social Security is one of the most popular topics to attract pre-retirees. Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Security remained a topic that consistently drew attendees to workshops being held virtually.
With Total Social Security, you get FINRA-reviewed materials to market your workshop – direct mail postcards, brochures, inserts, posters and a graphic for a Facebook event.
You also get the script and PowerPoint presentation to conduct the workshop, as well as helpful guides, including tips for a lead-generating webinar and “The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Workshops.” SMS created the guide in the earliest days of the pandemic, helping advisors pivot quickly to a format that allowed them to continue to grow as others’ business stopped completely.
SMS also has a more detailed, step-by-step guide for running successful in-person workshops. This 28-page guide includes useful checklists to help you select the right venue, print marketing materials and assign responsibilities so no detail goes missed. If you’re interested, ask an SMS marketing consultant for the “Ultimate How-To Guide for Successful Client Workshops.”
SMS-contracted agents using Total Social Security also get a prospecting letter to send to existing or prospective clients for one-on-one Social Security consultations when they approach their Social Security eligibility and election. All of these materials are part of SMS’ Client Stream lead-generation program, which offers an entire library of workshops on other retirement planning topics. Client Stream also offers event support at levels ranging from a mostly do-it-yourself option to a full-service, turnkey solution.
Only SMS offers this powerful combination of the proprietary, proven lead-generation program and the exclusive technology. You have everything you need from beginning to end – to attract prospects who book appointments and then to convert them to clients, often in the first appointment, by using the technology to deliver on the promises you made in the workshop. Plus, Total Social Security includes access to live support from experts on Social Security planning and the software. With this additional layer of assurance, you can offer Social Security planning with confidence that you’ll be able to answer any client question.
Expect those questions to keep coming, with Social Security solvency and legislation increasingly making headlines.
While the Social Security Trustees report estimates that the Social Security retirement benefits program will be able to pay scheduled benefits on a timely basis until 2034, the COVID-19 crisis may have accelerated that. Some projections estimate that the fund could be depleted by 2029 because of the reduced income from fewer people working combined with the influx of people claiming Social Security.
Policymakers continue to make proposals to shore up the trust fund, but the changes could include raising taxes, cutting benefts or a combination of both.
All of these uncertainties are fueling consumer anxiety – and, in turn, demand for Social Security planning as a service.
The 2022 Consumer Social Security Survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute found that:
The proposed changes to the Social Security program will impact every retiree differently depending on their unique situation, so the role of the financial advisor is becoming even more critical. Agents and advisors can attract prospects and serve existing clients by helping them understand how changes are likely to impact them specifically and determine the best time to claim. Watch this webinar to understand the funding issues and possible changes.
To learn more about the Total Social Security program and how you can get started with Social Security planning, call an SMS marketing consultant at 1.877.645.4939