Social Security: Tips from Advisors To Plan Your Retirement Given Program’s Uncertain Future

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You may not be able to count on as much Social Security income in retirement as you had previously planned, based on a new report from the Social Security Administration. The annual Trustees report, released on March 31 and reported on by GOBankingRates, shows that the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund will run dry by 2033. That’s one year earlier than prior estimates.

In light of this information, should you change your retirement planning tactics? Experts say, “maybe not.”

“The Social Security shortfalls have been projected for some time,” Brian Ellenbecker, a certified financial planner at Shakespeare Wealth Management, told Yahoo News.

With this in mind, most financial advisors have already accounted for a lack of Social Security funds for those in their 50s or younger. For instance, Jacob Sadler, a financial planner at Bay Point Wealth, told Yahoo News, that they model scenarios where Social Security benefits are lower than what’s reflected on a client’s estimated statement.

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“We will model a 25% reduction in benefits for clients mid-50s or younger, as this time frame to retirement corresponds to the 2034-35 estimate for depletion of the Social Security Trust Fund.”

If your financial advisor hasn’t previously made adjustments – or if you aren’t working with anyone to plan for retirement – there are some guidelines to keep in mind.

How Much Can You Expect from Social Security Based on Your Age?

Whatever your age, it’s prudent not to expect Social Security to provide all of your retirement income. However, 40% of baby boomers still expect Social Security to be their “primary source of retirement income,” according to a report from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

Only 25% of Gen Xers are counting on Social Security to fund their retirement, according to the report. Meanwhile, 17% of millennials and 16% of zoomers are counting on Social Security as their primary retirement income.

How much you can expect from Social Security depends on when you retire, how long you worked, and your salary while you were working. And the amount may change with certain proposals on the table that could change how Social Security is calculated.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prepare for “worst-case” contingencies of seeing Social Security dramatically cut as you near retirement age.

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Expert Tips To Stash Away More Retirement Savings

Since no one can predict how much income Social Security will provide in your retirement, especially if they are in your fifties or younger today, it can be wise to calculate retirement savings without Social Security as a factor. “We don’t even include Social Security in our clients’ retirement income plans until they are ‘actually’ taking it,” Cary Carbonaro, a certified financial planner, told Yahoo News. In fact, 78% of Gen Xers take this view and believes Social Security will not be an option for retirement income.

With this in mind, your goal should be to ramp up other retirement savings vehicles. Here are some expert tips.

Increase your Investment Portfolio

If you can afford it today, it might make sense to add more equities to your portfolio in the form of stocks or ETFs. Especially in a down market, if you have the risk tolerance to weather the storm, investments could be the way to financial freedom in your later years.

Adjust Spending

If you are willing to adjust your expectations for retirement, perhaps by traveling less or moving into a smaller home, you may be able to stretch your savings further.

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Delay Benefits

Experts are touting the advantages of delaying Social Security benefits as long as possible. This might involve working longer to increase your earnings, but it could also mean waiting to claim benefits until you reach age 70.

At that point, you’ll receive delayed retirement credits. You’ll earn roughly 8% more per year for every year from full retirement age (somewhere from age 66 to 67) up until age 70.

Of course, that’s assuming the Social Security fund still has money by that time and there are no dramatic changes to the program between now and your retirement. This tactic might work best for those who are already close to retirement — or have already reached full retirement age — and who can hold out for a few more years to maximize their Social Security income.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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