Are you planning to use Social Security as primary income in retirement?

Are you planning to use Social Security as primary income in retirement?

Not understanding the benefit-claiming process could cost you thousands of dollars.

A survey released by AARP and the Financial Planning Association says that about half of people aged 45 to 64, are expecting Social Security benefits to be a major player in their income after retirement, according to

However, 94 percent of certified financial planners are saying that Social Security benefits will account for half or less of income for most of their clients, with 53 percent of planners saying the benefits will supply less than 30 percent.

The study was undertaken to see what the differences in experience and knowledge were for consumers and the recommendations of financial planners, and involved 1,2oo future retirees and 1,300 certified financial planners (CFP’s).

Almost half of the consumers said they were “somewhat knowledgeable” concerning the way their benefits will be determined, but only 9 percent thought they were “very knowledgeable”.

The survey revealed many are not sure they understand the basic issues of claiming Social Security benefits, and what the impact will be on the decisions they make, including when to start claiming and the myriad of choices.  According to the report, more that 8,000 strategies are available for married couples alone.

AARP president Jeannine English said, “For families and individuals looking to claim their Social Security benefits soon, this survey shows that far too many face a claiming knowledge gap, potentially leaving thousands of dollars on the table.”

The average single retiree leaves more than $100,000 in lifetime benefits and the average couple more than $250,000, according to Financial Engines, a defined-contribution managed-account provider.

The survey also found that financial advisers do not believe their clients are well-versed in Social Security benefits, with just 1 percent saying they think their clients are very knowledgeable, and 31 percent saying their clients are somewhat knowledgeable.

Consumers can gain understanding of the benefit situations by contacting resources such as the AARP and the Social Security Administration, and financial planners are encouraging people to do so.

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