Retirement Rebootcast Episode Three: Optimizing Social Security

Retirement Rebootcast Episode Three: Optimizing Social Security

Welcome to the third edition of the Retirement Rebootcast! This is a special limited-edition podcast series focused on my new book - Retirement Reboot: Commonsense Financial Strategies for Getting Back on Track. The book is out this month, so I invited some of my favorite experts on retirement to join me on the program to talk about some of its key ideas. 

I wrote Retirement Reboot with a very particular group of readers in mind: people getting close to retirement who are not financially prepared. In other words, people who have not been able to save much -or anything - for retirement. They’re headed toward a retirement living only on Social Security, which typically replaces about 40% of their working income. Meanwhile, the rule of thumb is that most of us will need to replace at least 70% of our wage income when we retire.

The book offers a series of strategies for improving on that math. The key chapters discuss the importance of making a plan, timing your retirement and how to get the most from Social Security and Medicare. I also discuss strategies for building savings, even late in the game, and tapping home equity. From there, I go on to discuss managing your career late in the game, the value of professional advice, how to manage long-term care risk and how to approach the idea of aging in place. 

For this third episode of the series, let’s have a conversation about how to get the most from Social Security. For most of us, Social Security will be the most important retirement benefit - full stop. Decisions about when to claim can make a big difference in your lifetime income. Especially for couples, there can be some interesting choices. Making smart choices has never been more important, especially because Social Security benefits are less generous than in the past. The gradual increases in the full retirement age put in motion by the reforms of 1983 are close to being fully phased in - and that effectively raises the bar on what it takes to generate income from the program.

For this episode, I invited two of the most knowledgeable people I know on the topic of Social Security claiming.

Mary Beth Franklin is a contributing editor at Investment News magazine, specializing in Social Security, Medicare and Retirement income. She’s been a financial journalist for more than 40 years, covering everything from federal budget and tax policies as a Capitol Hill reporter to consumer finances at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. One unusual twist for Mary Beth as a journalist - in 2015, she became a Certified Financial Planner in 2015. She is the author of “Maximizing Your Social Security Retirement Benefits.” 

William Reichenstein is a professor of investment management at Baylor University, a co-founder of Social Security Solutions - a company that has developed a terrific set of online software tools that help individuals and financial professionals sort through claiming decisions. He is the co-author of a book titled Social Security Strategies: How to Optimize Retirement Benefits. 

Along with claiming strategies, I asked Mary Beth and Bill to talk about Social Security's financial challenges and public worries about the program's future. We also talked about how Social Security might change in the years ahead.

Click the player icon at the top of the newsletter to listen to the podcast - or find it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (search for “Retirement Revised”).

The Retirement Rebootcast will have six episodes. Next week we’ll take a deep dive into navigating Medicare. My guests will be Tricia Neuman of the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Fred Riccardi of the Medicare Rights Center.

Retirement Reboot in the news

In a new essay for Newsweek, I explain the possible cuts facing Social Security - and why we need to move in the opposite direction by expanding the program and shoring up its finances. This is adapted from the chapter of Retirement Reboot titled “Toward a New Social Insurance Era.” I also spoke with Kerry Hannon of Yahoo! Finance about the need to make Social Security bigger - not smaller - to improve retirement security.

Join me for an interactive workshop on retirement planning

I’ll be discussing Retirement during an interactive, online workshop on January 24th. I hope you’ll join me!

The 90-minute workshop, hosted by Bookends University, will offer practical strategies for improving your retirement prospects, even if your savings are meager and retirement is looming! It will draw from material in Retirement Reboot: Commonsense Financial Strategies for Getting Back on Track.

We’ll walk through core decisions to make now to improve retirement outcomes, including

  • Timing Your Retirement

  • Optimizing Social Security

  • Navigating Medicare

  • Tapping Home Equity

  • Building Savings

  • Financing long-term care needs

Tuition for the event is $45, which includes a copy of Retirement Reboot. Bookends University is sponsored by Bookends & Beginnings, my favorite independent bookstore. You can pick up your copy at the store if you’re local, or have it mailed to you. 

Register for the workshop!

Journalist and author Mark Miller on getting retirement right - featuring downloadable guides and podcast interviews with nationally-recognized experts.