Here is a way to quickly benefit your prospects and clients: Become proficient with the Social Security website, the Social Security and Medicare Trustees annual report, and the 1040 instructions). These websites contain information that you are probably already familiar with, but they present that information to your prospects and clients in a way that is easy for them to understand.
These websites help me to start conversations. They help me target information specific to my prospects and clients. They also help to inspire action, because the information they provide is official. It isn’t just my opinion. Knowing how to use these websites will make you a magnificent retirement income planner.
1. The Social Security Website (www.ssa.gov)
You can show prospects and clients how to use the website to determine their current benefits. First, determine income at age 62, which is the earliest you can take Social Security retirement. Eighty percent of Americans take benefits at that age, and it is almost always to their detriment. But you can show them how to do better!
Next, determine what their full retirement age would be. Many of our clients mistakenly think it is age 65, but it is currently age 66. In a decade, full retirement will be age 67. Finally, you can illustrate their income if they wait until the maximum age of 70.
This exercise will show them that waiting provides dramatic results. Every year you wait between age 62 and full retirement age 66 increases your income by 6 percent. Every year you wait from full retirement to the maximum age 70 increases benefits by 8 percent annually.
There are two major reasons to consider waiting. First, 6 percent and 8 percent returns are better than you can make on long-term returns. Second, long-lived people receive greater incomes for the rest of their lives. By providing this information, we help our clients make more informed decisions about when to take benefits. 2. The Social Security and Medicare Trustees Annual Report (http://www.ssa.gov/oact/tr/)
You know I love these reports. The information in these reports shows that Social Security and Medicare face enormous demographic issues. Use the information to show that taxes will probably increase, benefits will probably not increase and inflation will become a serious challenge for retirees. As I write this, the 2014 report has not yet been released; however, it should be out soon. Read this report! It will be very interesting to see the current numbers for Social Security and Medicare.
3. 1040 Instruction Booklet (www.irs.gov)
It is impossible to serve our clients without a thorough understanding of income tax law. I read and study the 1040 instructions thoroughly and continuously.
Personal exemptions are $3,950 per person in 2014. Page 39 of the instruction booklet shows the standard deduction for a couple over the age of 65 is $14,800. Two exemptions and the standard deduction equals $22,700 for that couple. So they can receive their Social Security and $22,700 of fully taxable income and pay no income taxes!
Page 101 of the instructions shows the tax brackets. The first bracket after the standard deduction and personal exemption is 10 percent. That couple would pay 10 percent of the next $18,150 of taxable income, or $1,815. $1,815 divided by the $40,850 of taxable income this couple receives is 4.5 percent. The $40,850 comes from adding the $22,700 plus the $18,150.
Would our clients like to rid themselves and their families of this income tax liability if they could do it for the minimal amount of 4.5 percent? What a spectacular opportunity!