If you belong to the portion of the population aged 60 or older, you have probably given a good bit of thought to Social Security; if you are much younger than that, the concept is probably not high on your current list of priorities.
But as a financial planner and investment adviser, I routinely find that the various benefits available via the Social Security Administration are an important and often misunderstood part of folk's financial picture.
it's your money, coming back
One thing to understand upfront is that almost everyone earning income in the United States pays a tax into the Social Security fund throughout their earning years. Although Social Security benefits are sometimes described as "entitlements" in a way that suggests otherwise, the money that retirees get back comes primarily from their own contributions and those of their peers and the generations preceding / following them.
spouses and kids can benefit, too
Some of the benefits available via Social Security are available to spouses and children of the income earner who paid into the system. For instance, in a two parent household if one worked outside the home for a wage and the other spent their working years raising kids and caring for the home, the one without an income history may also qualify for a retirement benefit based on the contributions of the working spouse.
check your benefits early and often
The Social Security Administration offers a couple of tools that are really very valuable for gaining a basic understanding of where a given person stands in relation to their potential benefits.
David R Wattenbarger, president of DRW Financial
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