By David G. Freitag, Financial Planning Consultant, MassMutual
The Social Security Administration, in the past, mailed a full annual report to workers about their Social Security benefits. The report was easy to recognize because the header on the top and bottom of the multiple pages contained bold green lines. The “Green Line” form is important because it identifies the Social Security payment amount workers should expect at full retirement age. It also identifies the payment amount workers should expect if benefits start at age 62 or how much workers should expect it the payments are delayed until age 70. In addition, this “Green Line” form also show how much FICA taxes and Medicare taxes are paid each year into the system.
Typically, workers casually read these monthly numbers and then continued on dealing with life’s daily challenges. Maybe, because the form is text intensive that folks do not appreciate the valuable information that is presented to them about one of their most valuable retirement assets. Maybe, because the monthly retirement income numbers are reported monthly, they do not actually jump off the page and collect that “wow” reaction. Maybe, because the FICA taxes that generate Social Security retirement income are automatic deductions from their income, workers tend to forget how much is paid into the system and how much real value Social Security contributes to a secure inflation protected income in retirement.
Mailing the “Green Line” form to each worker in the United States was an expensive process for the Social Security Administration. With the emergence of almost universal access to the internet and growing online access to www.SSA.GOV, the full Social Security statement is now only available through the creation of a myAccount on the www.SSA.GOV web site. For everyone under age 60, the Social Security Administration shifted the delivery of this form from print to electronic media. For people over the age of 60, the US Mail is still delivering the “Green Line” form each year.
In May, MassMutual released the results of their recent study that polled workers age 50 to 59 to see how much they knew about their Social Security benefits. One of the most shocking results from this study shows that 86% of the people did not take time to create a Social Security myAccount. As a result, workers, who should now be actively planning for retirement, do not have access to their “Green Line” form and as a result do not have accurate information about their benefits.
Using today’s interest rates, how much it would cost a married couple, age 70, to buy a lifetime income annuity that would guarantee that each of them would receive$2,500 a month for life. Remember that this income would also adjust for a 2% inflation rate. This clone of Social Security income in the commercial market place would cost the couple over $1,000,000 and would have to be paid in a lump sum!
The “Green Line” form provides the information workers need about this potential $1,000,000 + asset.
It is easy to sign up for a Social Security myAccount. Just visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and follow the prompts. After all, if you had a $1,000,000 asset it would be a good idea to see how it is doing!
David Freitag, an industry veteran in financial services and wealth management, brings a deep passion and unparalleled expertise in Social Security filing strategies and retirement income planning to his current role as a financial planning consultant. He has been featured in Market Watch, CNBC, USA Today Money, and The Street.Com. David is a Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, Chartered Retirement Planning Consultant, and holds his Series 7 and 24 securities licenses. He also holds a Master of Education and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Maryland.