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Social Security benefits a last-minute thought for boomers

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A very small percentage of baby boomers are planning for how and when they will claim their Social Security, according to a survey by Securian Financial Group.

Only 18 percent have made decisions about how they will claim Social Security, but half of those have tweaked their plans within the last three years, said Michelle Hall, manager of Market Research.

Nearly half of this 18 percent, called The Planners, have created or started to create their plans between the ages of 60 and 65. The ages of 62, 50 and 55 stand out as benchmark years for planning, with 20 percent, 10 percent and 10 percent, respectively, starting at those ages.

Among the 50 percent of Planners who changed their Social Security strategies in the last three years, 59 percent changed the age at which they will retire and 48 percent changed the age at which they plan to begin collecting Social Security benefits.

Nearly 14 percent of this group also made changes in their spouse’s claiming strategies.

Forty-four percent of the Planners said they decided to make a change to their Social Security plan because they were concerned about whether their savings would provide enough income in retirement and 42 percent said they needed to decide on their retirement age.

The Non-Planners, or the 82 percent of survey respondents who have not made Social Security plans, are just beginning to explore their options. Nearly 17 percent of them say they expect to receive no retirement income from Social Security, compared to only 4 percent of the Planners.

More than half of non-planners say they expect Social Security will account for 40 percent or more of their retirement income.

When they do start making decisions about when they’ll claim Social Security, 66 percent of the Non-Planners will consult the Social Security website for information. Nearly 40 percent of them will physically go to their local Social Security offices with their questions, compared to 22 percent of Planners. Twenty-seven percent of Non-Planners say they will consult financial advisors, compared to 22 percent of Planners.

“The number of boomers who expect to receive no Social Security benefits or aren’t sure how much they’ll receive reflects the group’s insecurity about financial security in retirement,” said Hall.

Securian surveyed more than 800 baby boomers for the survey, which was conducted online from Jan. 18-22, 2013.


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