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Social Security

There are risks involved when you take your Social Security benefits.

Social Security provides income and services for people who have paid into the system. Some people get benefits as a dependent or survivor on another person's Social Security record. Benefits are paid when a recipient reaches a certain age, becomes sick or disabled, or if a spouse or parent become disabled or dies. In such cases, their Social Security benefits are paid to their children or the living spouse.

Benefits are based on the concept of working and paying taxes into the system. The Social Security taxes you and other workers pay are used to pay for Social Security benefits.You must work and pay taxes into Social Security in order for you, or your family, to get benefits.

There are risks involved in how you, and/or your spouse, and your family, claim benefits. Most people don't understand the many facets of the Social Security program and how individuals and their families are affected when they decide to apply for benefits. In essence, the Social Security program is getting more complicated with each passing year.

At one time, you could apply for your Social Security benefits and feel confident that you were getting the best results simply based on the money you paid into the system and the age in which you decided to start collecting. But today, there are other variable that include claiming options, tax implications, and a host of other long and short term financial strategies.

What makes the way you approach taking your Social Security benefits so risky is that there are so many choices and you don't get the opportunity to change your mind at a later date. This is significant because the way you take your benefits today may not be good for you if your lifestyle changes in the future.

The question of how and when to take benefits has turned into a media/political side show. Everyone is talking but no one is saying anything that clarifies the issues evolving around Social Security.

Questions persist about whether or not the program is financially solvent, if it will be around for the next generation of workers, and if it is, will the benefits have to be cut. The main question is who to believe. Some say that Social Security is imploding under it's own weight and won't survive much longer while others say that it is financially sound and will be around for many years to come.

The risks are there for every individual who has a need to apply for Social Security. Every year millions of Americans apply for benefits. Most know a little about how Social Security benefits work but are not really one hundred percent sure of how to make the best decisions that will work best for them.

Every situation is different under Social Security guidelines and even if they are explained, the rules are not easily understood. There is some guidance from the Social Security Administration, but how you take your payments is basically up to you. In essence, you may be putting your Social Security retirement income, and that of your spouse, at risk.

Although the Social Security Administration employees are there to explain as best as they can, they are not financial advisors and they cannot tell you how to make the best decisions for your long term financial health. In reality, most employees are not going to know all their is to know and it's unreasonable to expect them to. But, on the other hand, they will try to answer your questions as honestly and professionally as they can.

You must remember that there are little known rules that may come back to haunt you one day. You have to ask questions, read the rules, talk to financial planners, and think for yourself. And you must remember, you can't learn everything there is to know by listening to sound bites on the evening news or reading bits and pieces from newspapers and magazines.

Spouses, children, taxes, past, present, and future income, and the money that has already been paid into the program are all a part of your Social Security package. Each item will either add to or subtract from the risks that are involved. It's important for you to know that the way a friend or relative decided to take their benefits may not be in your best interests.

Also, you must understand that the Social Security Administration can't know everything about you. It's up to you to provide Social Security with the information that is needed to process your benefits to your advantage. In other words, it's all up to you. The risks are great and the end results may have a lasting affect on you and your family's future.

Note:  Contact your local Social Security Administration Office for all the latest updates on benefits and filing requirements.

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