Five Helpful Social Security Sites

Every now and then we come upon outstanding resources for those of us who appreciate the wisdom and necessity of taking an active role in “Standing Up for Yourself at Work™.”

Today we recommend to all of our subscribers and visitors who hope one day to collect Social Security five very valuable websites, each designed to offer services that help you calculate the best times and ways to commence your Social Security payments.

This is far more complicated than you might think especially for those who are married, and must consider the availability and amount of spousal survivor benefits.

Three of these sites charge a fee; two are free, and all are uniquely helpful in their own ways:

1. MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com: Fee: $40.00

Appeals to those who seek maximum control over the inputs and assumptions that go into various payout scenarios. Permits users to rerun the numbers using a variety of scenarios at no extra charge.

2. SocialSecurityChoices.com: Fee: $39.95

Generates a 14-page report with advice under three different scenarios – “normal” life expectancy (men 82; women 86), “long” life expectancies (men 88, women 92), and life expectancies you specify. Report includes a grid telling how much you would forfeit by pursuing suboptimal strategies. Downside: users must pay for a second report to run different numbers and scenarios.

3. SocialSecuritySolutions.com: Fee: $20 to $250

Very user-friendly, with colorful screens that make it easy to get a handle on complex topics, including how much of your benefits is likely to be taxed, and how a specific strategy will perform over different life expectancies. For an additional fee, you can get a consultation with an advisor.

4. AARP.org/socialsecuritybenefits: Free

Identifies the way to claim the highest monthly – rather than lifetime – benefit. That usually means one spouse putting off receiving benefits until age 70. Also calculates how much of your monthly expenses your Social Security benefits will cover, assuming you pay average prices for food, housing, transportation and healthcare. Permits you to input actual prices for these things, too.

5. TRowePrice.com/socialsecurity: Free

Permits users to pick among seven common goals, including generating the maximum lifetime benefit, and maximizing survivor benefits. Does not permit users to adjust life expectancies.

Each of these five tools has advantages and drawbacks. All educate users about “claiming strategies” that many people do not know are available. All of these programs are easy to use, and each generates recommendations. When and how to optimally apply for your Social Security benefits is not an easy decision to make.

If you begin collecting Social Security benefits early, you may not have enough income to enjoy the years ahead of you. Likewise, if you begin collecting Social Security benefits late, you’ll have a larger income, but fewer years to enjoy it. Everyone needs to find the right balance, based on his or her circumstances. These tools help you do just that.

© 2013 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Strictly Prohibited.