The Ins and Outs of Social Security Stump Retirees

In its latest Social Security retirement benefits quiz, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company found that nearly 70% failed or just barely passed the quiz. Quiz sponsors said one of the most concerning findings is that 43% of near retirees could not say what percentage of their income in retirement would be coming from Social Security. One of the most misunderstood Social Security benefit details has to do with how benefits are paid to married or divorced couples, including the fact that a divorced spouse in many cases can receive benefits based on the ex-spouse’s earnings record if certain criteria are met. Another confusion was not realizing that when a spouse dies, the surviving spouse does not continue to receive both her/his own benefit as well as that of the deceased spouse. Other findings included that less than half of respondents believe their Social Security income can sustain them for 21 years or more, and yet almost 30% do not know how much money they will need in addition to Social Security. A certified financial planner with Massachusetts Mutual, in looking at the survey results, observed that when it comes to retirement, “knowledge is power and planning is powerful,” so people need both to ensure a financially secure retirement.

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