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02 February 2016

Thought Leader: Robert Fishbein

Photo: Robert FishbeinWays to maximize Social Security benefits in wake of Bipartisan Budget Act

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 closes key options married couples have been using to maximize Social Security benefits. So the planning options that remain for the vast majority of future Social Security beneficiaries are more important than ever, says Robert Fishbein, a vice president and corporate counsel in Prudential’s Tax Department.  

"You may want to adjust your plans by looking at scenarios that compare your and your spouse’s Social Security benefits based on income," Fishbein notes. "For example, when do you turn on both spouses’ benefits in order to maximize the payments to each spouse?"  

The answer depends on the ages and health of the spouses, says Fishbein. A Social Security recipient can increase the benefit payment by delaying the starting date from age 62 to either the Full Retirement Age, which is between 66 and 67 depending on your year of birth, or age 70 (the maximum starting age).  

"The general view is that the delayed benefit pays more if the beneficiary lives to at least age 83," says Fishbein. "So the better choice might be to delay the higher-earning spouse’s benefit to age 70, to allow it to grow and possibly provide a richer surviving spouse benefit to the lower-earning spouse, should he or she live longer."

Another approach would be to start the lower earner’s benefit earlier because there is less than a 50 percent chance that both spouses will live past age 81. 

"The bottom line with these changes is there has been a reduction in Social Security benefits for most future beneficiaries," Fishbein notes. "However, Social Security will remain an important part of retirement planning and will be the single largest source of retirement income for many individuals. So maximizing benefit payments is crucial."  

Want more information? Read Robert’s bylined article on Want to speak with Robert? Contact Lisa Bennett. 

Neither Prudential Financial, its affiliates, nor its financial professionals, render tax or legal advice. Please consult with attorney, accountant, and/or tax advisor for advice concerning you particular circumstances.



Lisa M. Bennett
phone: 973-802-2894
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