Cain: Social Security questions loom for aging baby boomers
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain On Businessfirstname.lastname@example.org February 8, 2013 9:56PM
As more and more baby boomers near retirement age, questions about Social Security arise. | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: March 11, 2013 6:01AM
When I married my husband, our 11-year age difference didn’t faze me in the least.
For the past 25 years, it’s been soulmate city. The fact that he liked Barry Manilow and I was more of a Ramones girl when we met has only provided fodder for marital humor.
But our age difference is finally making a difference ever since my husband announced a few months ago that he’d like to retire in the not-to-distant future.
That was one angle of this relationship I never anticipated. If my husband retires in about 18 months at the ripe old age of 66, which would provide him maximum Social Security benefits, I would have to work for another 12 or so years. Yikes!
The thought of me hauling my, um, body to work every day for more than a decade while’s he’s padding around the house all day is kind of scary. We talk of him teaching and doing other things to supplement his Social Security, but that’s kind of iffy. Also gone will be the double insurance protection that we enjoyed. If I lost my job, he could insure me and vice versa.
So for the past several months, news stories about Social Security issues have caught my eye more than ever before. Especially ones that talk about deadlines for signing up for things like Medicare Part B. I have no idea what Medicare Part B is, but I do know if you don’t sign up in time you are penalized 10 percent more in premiums for every year you ignore this deadline.
Now I’m Googling Medicare and Social Security issues like never before. The AARP mail coming to the house has increased. And people are desperately trying to sell us long-term health care insurance policies.
Trisha Kroner, a certified financial educator, said her business is booming because of questions like mine.
“Ten thousand baby boomers a day are retiring,” she said. “That’s a huge number. This subject of Social Security — people are very curious about it right now.”
Kroner does workshops to help educate people about how to optimize their Social Security benefits. Her company, Frankfort-based Steadfast Income Planning Group, will do a free analysis to help people get the most out of their retirement benefits.
“We’ve put into it all our lives and now we want to start getting our money back,” she said.
But it’s complicated because everyone’s situation is different, she added. You can wait to file, file and suspend or even file then pay back the money within a year to get to your maximum benefit. There are also strategies to reduce the amount you are taxed if you continue to work after you start collecting Social Security.
“We figure out the best scenario,” Kroner said. “There are 81 different strategies you can do to maximize your benefits.”
If you retire at age 62, you only get 75 percent of your maximum benefit. At age 65, you get 93 percent. The best-case scenario would be to wait until age 70 to retire, which is when Social Security benefits stop growing for individuals, Kroner said.
“But a lot of people don’t want to do that,” she said.
But 70 sounds like a good age for my husband to retire. Now all I have to do is gently urge him to stay employed. Maybe I should give him a Barry Manilow CD along with my suggestion.
For more information on Social Security benefits, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or www.aarp.org.
Kroner can be reached at 815-462-4926.