Ask Stacy: Where Can I Get Social Security Advice?

Choosing the proper claiming strategy can mean thousands more in Social Security money over your lifetime. Here's how to find an inexpensive expert who can help.

Ask Stacy: Where Can I Get Social Security Advice? Photo by Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers. You can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

If you’re not typically a video watcher, give it a try. These videos are short and painless, and you’ll learn something valuable. But if you can’t deal with video, no problem: Just scroll down this page for the full transcript of the video, as well as some reader resources.

Today’s question is about finding help with Social Security.

It might seem that applying for and receiving Social Security is a simple process. However, there are claiming strategies that can result in getting thousands more in monthly benefits over your lifetime. Experts offer inexpensive help to make sure you’ll get every possible dime. Watch the video to learn about locating these helpful folks.

For more information on this topic, check out “12 Ways to Maximize Your Social Security Checks” and “This Could Be the Best Reason Not to Claim Social Security Early.” You can also go to the search at the top of this page, put in the words “Social Security” and find plenty of information on just about everything relating to this topic. And if you’d like help maximizing your Social Security benefits, be sure and visit the Social Security page of our Solutions Center.

Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.

Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hello, everyone, and welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager.” I’m your host, Stacy Johnson, and this answer is brought to you by MoneyTalksNews.com, serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Our question today is from Bernadette:

“In one of your discussions about Social Security, you mentioned to speak with a Social Security counselor before deciding on when to sign up. I’ve asked around, and no one seems to have heard of this. Any idea where I might find one?”

Well, Bernadette, here’s the deal:

When you enroll for Social Security, how and when you sign up can mean a big difference in how much Social Security you’ll receive over the course of your lifetime. It’s referred to as a “claiming strategy.”

In short, there are things you can do — especially when you’re a married couple — that might put more money in your pocket.

Example: When you reach your full retirement age, you can make a choice to claim half of your spouse’s Social Security or all of yours, whichever is greater. There may be situations where you might want to take half of your spouse’s Social Security, allowing yours to grow as you approach 70, then claiming your own Social Security at 70 when your monthly benefit is higher. (The longer you wait to claim Social Security — up until you reach 70 — the higher your monthly payments will be.)

That’s just one example of a strategy you might use to increase Social Security payments over your lifetime.

It’s not a traditional counselor you go to for this type of advice. Instead, you just pay a company that uses a computer program. You give it the inputs, like your ages, life expectancies, blah, blah, blah, and then it spits out exactly what you should do.

I used one of these a couple of years ago, and I got back some interesting results. The report said that to maximize our lifetime benefits, I should claim at age 69 and my wife should adhere to her regular Social Security full retirement age. If memory serves, this strategy theoretically netted me an extra $15,000 over the course of both of our lifetimes.

You can get one of these reports for around $30. Here’s how: Go to MoneyTalksNews.com, then go to our Solutions Center, where you’ll find solutions for lots of common questions and problems. Then, click on the Social Security link. That will take you a company we partner with, Social Security Choices, that offers reports for $40. But if you use the coupon code “moneytalks” when you check out, you’ll get a $10 discount.

Personally, I thought it was worth it. You’ll probably find it worth it too, especially if you’ve got a spouse, and you’re wondering when each of you should claim.

I hope that answers your question, Bernadette. Have a profitable day, and I’ll meet you right here next time!

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

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Stacy Johnson
Stacy Johnson @moneytalksnews
I'm the founder of Money Talks News and have spent the last 40+ years in the personal finance trenches. I'm a CPA, author of a few books and multiple Emmy recipient. I'm ... More

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