By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager
Understanding how to navigate Social Security benefits is essential for those who want to make the most of their financial future.
“We have people that have served our country, raised children, bought homes and traveled the world – but somehow when it comes to Social Security, there's a hesitancy in understanding,” said Robert Fenn, the Public Affairs Specialist at the Social Security Administration in Akron.
Fenn and Brandon Smith, Public Affairs Specialist at the Social Security Administration in Cleveland, joined The State of Business podcast to discuss how to get a grasp on Social Security, the recent cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment to benefits and more.
“For people that are receiving Social Security, they should see that 5.9% cost of living adjustment to their benefits that are paid in the month of January,” Smith said.
The COLA increases are based on the consumer price index from the third quarter of the last year from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Smith said this recent adjustment is the largest increase in decades.
Talking to friends and family about social security benefits isn’t as helpful as it might seem, Smith said, as everyone’s situation is unique and what applies to one person might not to another. Fenn said CPAs should encourage their clients to understand their own social security benefits to enable them to make informed decisions about their future.
“There's a wealth of information on our website, in regard to retirement benefits, spousal benefits, widow benefits, Medicare, enrollment time periods, how to enroll and how to apply for retirement benefits,” Fenn said.
CPAs can ensure their clients are making the most of their social security by visiting socialsecurity.gov to set up their account and make use of everything offered online.
“It all starts with looking at their My Social Security account,” Fenn said. “We want people to have a comfort level that is based upon true education.”
(PHOTO: Right: Robert Fenn, Left: Brandon Smith)