savvy investors

Retirement and Longevity

Explore some of the ways that well-informed retirees make the most of their Social Security benefits.

In any financially independent retirement, Social Security benefits are bound to play a significant role. Not many reliable sources of income bring as much to the table regarding cash flow and cost-of-living increases just about every year. And, it’s a source of income that will hold relatively steady in just about any market environment. Its resilience is just one of many reasons you’ll want to be as savvy as possible about your Social Security benefits strategy.

Claiming your Social Security benefits can be inherently complicated because of the maze of rules and regulations. Schedule an appointment today with your Gratz Park Private Wealth advisor to discuss how to get the most from your benefits. 


We’re In This Together

Your Social Security decisions should be made in tandem with your spouse, not as two independent decisions. Strategizing with each other and your advisor is the key to maximizing your overall household benefits. Remember that Social Security offers spousal and survivor benefits as well as cost-of-living increases, so making the most of this vital mainstay of retirement income may serve you both well in the long run.


The Ex Factor

Many divorced people think erroneously that filing for Social Security on their ex’s record somehow takes benefits away from their former spouse or even alerts them to the claim. In fact, it doesn’t typically work that way.

If you were married for at least ten years and haven’t remarried, Social Security allows you to claim spousal benefits for yourself, and your ex would be none the wiser. For example, women who stayed out of the workforce to serve as family caregivers may find that their spousal benefits would be more significant than claiming on their own record. They could be entitled to an increased benefit without detracting in any way from their ex’s benefits – certainly something to consider.

Why leave money on the table? Your Gratz Park Private Wealth advisor can model possible benefit scenarios to see which strategies help you come out further ahead. There are even some scenarios where you can collect on your ex’s record first while deferring your own.


Remarriage Implications

Remember the rules above? Getting remarried will cut off those spousal benefits from your ex’s record. This may be fine if your new spouse made a higher lifetime income, but it’s worth thinking through either way.


The Fashionably Late  

For many of us, waiting until full retirement age can significantly increase lifetime benefits. People who claim Social Security at age 70 vs. age 62 receive 76% more in benefits – that’s quite a pay difference and only costs a little bit of patience.

Of course, if you have a family history of illness, shortened life expectancy, or an immediate need for extra cash flow, this may not make the most sense for you. But if you have a solid nest egg, it could pay to delay. 

People have been living longer than ever. So you’ll want to get the most out of your benefits. Claiming Social Security early could permanently reduce benefits and not only affect your finances over what could be a 30-year retirement, but your spouse’s, too.


The Bird’s Eye View

Smart investors, in general, look at their financial plan as a whole, not in isolation or compartments. That goes for decisions around Social Security, too. Benefits are best viewed in light of the role they play within your overall objectives. And in conjunction with other retirement income to make progress toward all your goals. 


How Working Works

Working while withdrawing Social Security benefits before full retirement age comes with some, shall we say, funky math. The Social Security Administration (SSA) temporarily withholds $1 in benefits for every $2 you earn above the current $18,960 limit. SSA will deduct $1 from your benefits for every $3 you earn above an established threshold in the year you reach full retirement age, currently $50,520 for 2021. Once you reach full retirement age, your earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you make, and the SSA recalculates your benefits to give you credit for the months it withheld payment due to those excess earnings.


Claiming your Social Security benefits can be inherently complicated because of the maze of rules and regulations. Schedule an appointment today with your Gratz Park Private Wealth advisor to discuss how to get the most from your benefits. 


The Value Of Keeping Tabs

Even if you’re decades away from retirement, create a secure login to access your personal Social Security account at Doing so can help ward off identity theft and catch any mistakes in your earnings history.   


We’re Here to Help

Your Gratz Park Private Wealth advisors understand that your situation may differ, and this simple guide doesn’t cover your specific situation. We’re available to help you work through any decisions that need to be addressed now and further down the road. Let us know when you’re ready.


Sources: ThinkAdvisor; Raymond James research; Financial Planning Association;;; Gallup data; U.S. Government Accountability Office;
Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.