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8 Things Your Clients Might Not Know About Social Security

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Related: 10 Social Security Tax Facts to Know

There are 2,728 entries in the Social Security handbook, as economist Laurence Kotlikoff is fond of pointing out. It’s no surprise that most Americans have a lot of knowledge gaps.

The Harris Poll, in a survey on behalf of Nationwide Retirement Institute, found that 66% of respondents are more concerned now than they were before about their retirement income, a 10-percentage-point jump from 2021.

Seventy percent of consumers across generations worry that Social Security will run out of funding in their lifetime, and a third of adults who do not receive benefits believe they will not receive any of what they have earned when they retire. 

The Harris Poll conducted an online survey between April 19 and May 7 among 674 millennials, 576 Generation Xers and 603 baby boomers in the U.S.

The survey also found misperceptions and a lack of general knowledge about Social Security. These knowledge gaps indicate that financial professionals can help their clients better navigate the Social Security landscape.

“There is an immediate opportunity for financial professionals to clear up clients’ misconceptions about Social Security to alleviate their fears and help them stay on track toward their long-term retirement goals.” Tina Ambrozy, senior vice president of strategic customer solutions at Nationwide, said in a statement.

According to the survey, 36% of respondents currently work with a financial professional, including half of millennials, 38% of Gen Xers and 28% of boomers. Forty-one percent of men engage with a financial professional, but only 31% of women do.

A fifth of survey participants said they would turn to a financial professional to learn more about Social Security. Among those who do not currently receive Social Security but plan to do so, 75% of millennials and 66% of Gen Xers said they would seek to find out how to use different income streams in order to delay filing before they reach full retirement age, compared with 52% of boomers.

Similarly, 77% of millennials and 62% of Gen Xers, but only 37% of boomers, would like to learn more about spousal benefit strategies for Social Security.

“Individuals at all stages of their careers can benefit from educating themselves about the Social Security system and retirement planning and a trusted financial professional can help with that education,” Ambrozy said.

See the gallery for eight areas in which clients may need more education about Social Security.