Social Security Administration Aims for Informative, Time-Saving Website Redesign – PLANADVISER

Understanding when and how to take Social Security distributions should be a critical part of everyone’s retirement planning, according to a Hartford Funds managing director.

The Social Security Administration launched a redesigned website for the more than 180 million Americans a year who use the website to apply for their benefits, check their eligibility and order Social Security cards, the organization said on Tuesday.

The website, SSA.gov, was redesigned with the goal of people finding what they need more easily, understanding their benefits and reducing in-person visits.
“Whether providing service in person or online, our goal is to help people understand what they may qualify for and seamlessly transition them to an application process,” Kilolo Kijakazi, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, said in a press release. “Improved self-service capability allows people to skip calling or visiting an office, which helps Social Security staff focus on those visitors who need in-person assistance.”

Understanding Social Security benefits, including when to take them, is important for people to maximize their retirement planning, says Mike Lynch, managing director of applied insights at Hartford Funds. Issues such as when to take Social Security, tax implications and how the benefit may change in the future are all important to consider within an individual’s full retirement picture, as well as for retirement plan advisers to either be aware of, or get help, he says.
“If [a retirement adviser] doesn’t know these areas, then it’s important to bring in an expert who does,” Lynch says.
When a professional is brought in, they generally recommend participants run an up-to-date calculation on ssa.gov for all family members, Lynch says.
“Once the financial professional has that information, they would use whatever preferred financial planning software their firm uses (or that they subscribe to) and discuss options,” he says. “For example, together they can review the client’s plan to see what taking their Social Security would look like at age 62 (full retirement age), or if it would make more sense to wait until age 70.”
The Social Security Administration’s redesigned website, which was done with public feedback, seeks to help people check for eligibility benefits, save time on getting information on their Social Security Number (SSN) or ordering a new card and applying for benefits and other online services, such as starting direct deposit.
The administration also said that people not yet receiving benefits can use their online account to get a personalized Social Security statement that provides their earnings information as well as estimates of their future benefits.
People can sign up for an account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.
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