On November 2, 2015, Congress passed new legislation governing social security benefits. We’ll be updating our recommendations as you near your social security start date, but here’s an overview of the changes:
- FILE AND SUSPEND GOES AWAY. This advanced technique—primarily utilized by professionals and their clients—allowed you to provide benefits to your spouse while you suspend and watch your own benefits continue to grow. This feature will be eliminated except for those individuals who have already filed and suspended or those who turn 66 before 5/1/16.
- RESTRICTED APPLICATIONS GO AWAY. Previously you could withdraw spousal benefits while delaying your own until age 70. Those under age 62 as of 12/31/15 will no longer be eligible for this benefit.
- NO CHANGE – At Full Retirement Age (66-67), the spouse with lower social security benefits will still be eligible for a minimum of 50% of their spouse’s benefits.
- NO CHANGE – If you delay collecting social security after your full retirement age, your benefits still increase by 8% per year until age 70.
Remember the movie Catch Me If You Can? We were lucky to hear the man who was inspiration for the story at this year’s BAM Alliance National Conference. After spending time in French, Swedish, and American prisons, Frank Abagnale was ultimately offered a job with the FBI where he still works today…over 40 years later. He’s turned down pardons from 3 Presidents because he knows no single piece of paper can possibly wash aways the sins of his past.
Frank offered his perspective on keeping your personal identity safe from fraud, including these items below:
- Shred all mail with a micro cut shredder (Even department store catalogs may contain enough information to be dangerous)
- Don’t use ATM/Debit cards; Only true credit cards from Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc.
- Never pay by check at any retail merchant
- Use credit monitoring services, and only those that do so in real time from all 3 credit bureaus
- Be careful with pictures on social media. Readily available facial recognition software can help fraudsters find your facebook (and other) accounts in just minutes. Make sure several faces appear in any one picture, or avoid sharing pictures of your face altogether.
No stone unturned. Although we most often get credit for our evidence-based investment approach, we are also helping clients with seemingly small things just below the surface that can make a big difference when the unexpected happens. One such example is helping clients properly name account beneficiaries for their retirement accounts. IRAs (and other retirement accounts) pass by operation of law according to your beneficiary designations on file, rather than per your estate planning documents. This is a very common misconception.
Experience tells us that it is essential to name a contingent beneficiary in addition to the primary. If a husband and wife were to die at the same time, the assets would pass to their estate, which may result in delays and higher federal income taxes for their beneficiaries. Click here to read an article on this topic.