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Navigating Social Security Decisions With Poor Visibility

Posted by Tim Doyle | November 15, 2017

Several years ago while skiing, my wife and I found ourselves alone on the Timberline chairlift, ascending to the peak of Mary Jane in windy, whiteout conditions.  As many of you know, high country weather can change in a heartbeat, and our pleasant day had quickly turned into the perfect storm.

As we approached the summit, we began to grow nervous as visibility diminished to about twenty feet, and we could no longer see the chair ahead of us. We’d skied Mary Jane only once before, and we were about to enter treacherous, unfamiliar terrain without a clear strategy for how we were going to descend.

 

We finally reached the top, and, thankfully, spotted a small group of skiers who stood adjusting gloves and boots.  “Can we follow you down?” I asked, shouting to be heard over the wind.  They agreed, and we proceeded to follow the faint outline of a red ski jacket until we finally reached the tree line and the dense clouds began to part.

 

Still, during the descent, I couldn’t help but think, “what if these guys drop into a double black diamond?”  What if the path they chose wasn’t suitable for my wife and me?

 

Recently, Steve and I were completing a Social Security analysis for longtime clients.  They would be eligible for benefits in a few years, and had been hearing different thoughts from friends and family:

-          “Wait till you’re 70!  That gives you the maximum benefit.”

-          “Take it as soon as you can.  Who knows if the government will change the rules?”

-          “At least wait until full retirement age, otherwise your benefit is decreased.”

 

While there may be some truth to each of the perspectives above, it’s difficult to make blanket statements that apply to everyone’s situation.  After all, what if the friend giving you advice is a black diamond skier and you prefer the greens?

 

This is where a financial planner’s role becomes invaluable.  We can take a client’s specific situation, and run a comparative analysis based on their data and their lifestyle.  In the case of the clients referenced earlier, we were able to recommend a Social Security strategy that could potentially have a positive $600,000 impact on their portfolio over their lifetime.  Of course, this particular client’s situation was unique, but it helps to demonstrate the value of comprehensive financial planning.

 

If you are facing a big decision, whether it be related to Social Security, retirement, a home purchase, or college planning, please utilize your resources here at Destiny Capital.  We’re here to help you navigate through the cloudy conditions until a suitable path becomes clear.  If you have friends or family members who could benefit from planning and counsel, we’d love to hear from them as well.


 

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