Aaron Leatherwood, CPA, CFP®, CWS®, MS

Aaron Leatherwood is a Client Wealth Strategist for Destiny Capital. Aaron builds relationships with his clients by learning about them as well as their families, priorities, concerns, and the impact they want to have on the world. He then partners with his clients to help them achieve their desired outcomes.

Recent Posts

Social Security Considerations: Putting It All Together

Social Security is an extensive topic to cover. To digest it easier, we've broken it down into four parts: Break-Even Analysis, Portfolio Withdrawals, Spousal and Survivor Benefits, and Limitations. So, how do we put all of this together?  
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Social Security Considerations: Limitations

So far in our Social Security series, we've covered Break-Even Analysis, Portfolio Withdrawals, and Spousal and Survivor Benefits. Next, let's talk about the limitations to be aware of. Three primary instances where Social Security may be limited include Earnings Test, Windfall Elimination Provision, and Government Pension Offset.  
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Social Security Considerations: Spousal and Survivor Benefits

Now that we have discussed Social Security Break-Even Analysis and Portfolio Withdrawals, let's explore how spousal and survivor benefits impact the analysis.   A worker can be eligible for benefits based on their work history or their spouse’s and can receive the higher of the two benefits. The starting point for determining the spousal benefit is 50% of the primary insurance amount (or full retirement benefit) of the other spouse. For example, let's take a hypothetical couple, John and Jane. If Jane's benefit is $2,000 per month at full retirement age, then the starting point for determining John's spousal benefit is 50% of $2,000. John's spousal benefit would then be $1,000 per month if he waited to receive benefits until his full retirement age. John could potentially claim his spousal benefit sooner, as early as age 62, but the spousal benefit would be reduced. A couple of things to know about the spousal benefit is that it does not receive delayed retirement credits, and it is only available if the other spouse has filed for benefits. So, John's spousal benefit would not increase by him delaying benefits past full retirement age, and he would only be eligible to receive spousal benefits if Jane has already filed.  
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Social Security Considerations: Portfolio Withdrawals

In our first discussion about Social Security, we discussed Break-Even Analysis. It's a good place to start as it is fundamental to understanding when to claim Social Security. However, it's exactly that, a starting point. If that's where your research stops, then you are missing the bigger picture. Unfortunately, that is where many studies, commentary, and analysis done by individuals begin and end.  
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Social Security Considerations: Break-Even Analysis

“When should I claim Social Security benefits?” Our clients ask this question often. Of course, as dutiful advisors, this is a planning element we begin to evaluate proactively as soon as our clients are nearing the age that this decision needs to be made. Unfortunately, as with many things in life, things are more complicated than they appear. It also doesn't help that there are a myriad of articles and opinions that don't evaluate the question from the same perspective, much less draw the same conclusion.  
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