Knowledge maximizes retirement

FAIRMONT — Almost everyone is familiar with the term “Social Security” but few probably have a good understanding of what it all entails, and for good reason. There is lot to know about Social Security and it is not a one-size-fits-all service.

Seth Becker has been a financial adviser for 17 years. He works at Tiarks, Becker and Hackett Financial (TBH Financial) in Fairmont.

“Everyone thinks that Social Security starts at 62, because that’s when you can start taking it, but that’s not true,” said Becker, adding, “You can start taking it at 62, but you’ll also be taking haircuts too.”

At 67, which is full retirement age, you get 100 percent of your benefit, but that might not be the best course of action for everyone.

“Some people will say, ‘My parents took their Social Security at 62, why can’t I?’ I tell them, ‘You can do whatever you want, I’m just saying there are other ways to do it.'” Becker said.

“There are a lot of exceptions that a lot of people don’t know, and that’s why it’s important to go over it. It’s truly something that everyone should have a handle on,” he said.

In November 2015, President Obama made a change to Social Security that affects a lot of married couples. Under the new law, anyone born before Jan. 1, 1954, is not affected by the change. Anyone born after that date is affected.

Becker explained that there are a lot of things that affect Social Security, as well as many exceptions and loopholes of which people should be aware.

When asked when people should start looking into Social Security, Becker said, “Honestly, what we tell people is the first thing you should do is go to and get yourself signed up to look at you account.”

Becker explained that the more information people are given, the more they can do.

Becker also noted what kind of work he and his colleagues do.

“We advise people on their finances is what it comes down to,” he said. “We’ve added Social Security on to our repertoire because there are a lot of baby boomers retiring right now.”

Becker provided several scenarios of people taking Social Security, and in each scenario the best course of action was different. His point in providing examples is to show there is a lot of information out there to be aware of.

“One of the neatest things I’ve discovered in doing this is a widow’s benefit,” he said. “There are some ladies out there whose husbands passed away, and it might have been 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, and they never remarried. I’ve had four cases now where I’ve worked with the ladies and have brought up the concept, ‘Do you realize you’ve never remarried and you can claim your husband’s benefits at age 60?'”

Becker said that while there are some limitations and other factors to consider, it can work for any widow, as long as they have not remarried.

Becker and his colleagues offer seminars at which the topic is maximizing your Social Security income. The next one that will be held in Fairmont is on Feb. 5. A full list can be found on their website:

“Our whole goal with the Social Security seminar is to show people how to maximize their Social Security benefits,” Becker explained.

As he pointed out, no one will just come up to you and present you with all of your options. However, if you were to go to your local Social Security office and ask questions, they would be able to help. Financial advisers, such as the ones at TBH Financial, or any other financial adviser, also would be able to help.

“You should go into something like this fully informed, because this is the rest of your life. We want to give people the best options out there,” Becker said.