Q: How important is Social Security to my overall retirement plan? 

A: Social Security and financial planning go hand in hand toward when it comes to a secure retirement. If you’re getting ready to retire, understanding Social Security basics can be crucial to your financial stability– and peace of mind.

Social Security Basics

Social Security provides retirement, disability, survivor benefits and Medicare coverage for qualifying individuals and their families. To qualify for benefits, you typically need to have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a minimum of 10 years. Depending on your birth year, the full retirement age for benefits ranges from 66 to 67. However, you can choose reduced benefits as early as 62 or delay benefits until 70 for increased payments. Social Security benefits are based on your highest 35 years of earnings, adjusted for inflation. Married individuals may be eligible for spousal benefits (up to 50% of their spouse’s benefit), depending on their own work history and age when claiming benefits.

Financial Planning Considerations

Start the financial planning process by assessing your current financial situation (your income, expenses, assets and liabilities). What kind of retirement lifestyle do you envision? Create a budget to ensure you can support your living costs in retirement. Estimate healthcare expenses, inflation– and (importantly) potential long-term care needs. Supplement Social Security benefits by contributing to retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, IRAs, or other plans. Definitely take advantage of employer matching contributions and tax benefits!

Investment & Estate Plans

Develop an investment strategy that works for your risk tolerance, time frame and financial goals. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket –diversifying mitigates your risk and optimize returns in the long run. Establish an estate plan (EVERYONE needs one) to ensure your wishes are carried out after your passing. This may include a will or trusts and designating beneficiaries for your assets. Strategies to maximize your Social Security benefits might include delaying claims to increase benefit amounts or coordinating with a spouse to optimize your household income. Don’t forget to review and adjust all your plans when circumstances change.

You’ve earned money and set some aside — yay! But what about the skills to manage it for your maximum benefit? Are you keeping up with changes to Social Security, tax laws and economic conditions? One Senior Place in Viera will present a free seminar June 13 on Social Security and financial planning. Learn from an expert and sleep easier. RSVP online or call 321-751-6771.



One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging. Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse, Certified Dementia Practitioner and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera. Ms. Conway hosts a monthly seminar, ‘Senior Health Friday with Nurse Lisa.’