Don’t let your Social Security check go on vacation

If you are like most people on Social Security, you need that check every month to buy groceries and to keep a roof over your head. But believe it or not, for a fortunate few that check is essentially bonus money, totally unnecessary for day-to-day survival.

““That situation is not as unusual as many may think,” says Jeffrey Eglow, the chief investment officer for Guardian Wealth Advisory (www.guardianwealthadvisory.com). “Some people may have inherited an income, won a lottery or had investments that did really well.

“But just because they don’t need that Social Security money to live on, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make the most of it. There are some specific things they should do to make sure they are getting the maximum benefit.”

Eglow said that many baby boomers see their investments and retirement income differently than they did before the 2008 recession. They are looking for sources of guaranteed income instead of more risky investments. While Social Security is guaranteed income, if they are wise about how they leverage it, they can have even more guaranteed income, he says.

Eglow says strategies for people who are in this situation include:

Don’t take Social Security until you are 70. This is the best strategy since there are few investments that offer a similar low risk, guaranteed 8 percent annual growth. By waiting until age 70 to receive benefits, your monthly payments may increase by as much as 32 percent, not including any cost of living increases that may be added to this amount. For example, someone who could get $2,000 a month at the “full retirement age” of 66 would get $2,640 if they postponed taking Social Security until they were 70.

Spend the Social Security check instead of 401(k) or IRA funds. Most people are taxed on only 50 percent to 85 percent of their Social Security benefit. But they are taxed on 100 percent of any withdrawals from traditional IRAs or 401(k) accounts.

Give it to the kids. Use the Social Security checks to pay premiums on life insurance policies so your heirs will receive a larger inheritance. Your heirs will receive this death benefit tax free.

Don’t delay getting Social Security past 70. Since the benefit stops growing at 8 percent once the beneficiary reaches 70, it makes no sense to delay the start of getting the checks past that age.

Eglow says even if some people don’t need their Social Security check for day to day living, it is still foolish to not maximize its value so it can benefit them and their families.

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Jeffrey Eglow is the chief investment officer for Guardian Wealth Advisory (www.guardianwealthadvisory.com), and has more than 30 years of investment management experience.

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