By: Jeremy Skoglund, Vice President Trust Officer 

Some of the taxes that automatically come out of my paycheck are going to Social Security, which I am supposed to get back when I retire, so do I really need to put more money away for retirement? Well, if you plan to work into your 70s and are able to live on less than 40% of your income, Social Security just might be enough for you. However, not everyone will be able to work into their 70s, and that 40% number is based on average earnings (if you’re a high earner, you’ll Social Security checks will be below 40% of your earnings) and that percentage could easily change as Social Security changes over the years. So, what should you do?

1. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to see your current benefits.

It is a good idea first to understand what your benefits look like now, so you can utilize the appropriate numbers when you put together a retirement plan. You can visit a local SSA office, call them, or go online and set up a “my Social Security” account to obtain information about your individual benefit estimate.

2. Have your Financial Advisor run separate Retirement Plan scenarios.
To understand if you need to rely on Social Security, look at your retirement plan with what the individual benefit estimate is, with a portion of the estimate, and finally without Social Security benefits at all. If you are only able to cover your costs in retirement with the full Social Security benefit, you should look at readjusting your plan.

3. Understand what you can do to increase your Social Security benefits.
You may not be able to rely on Social Security, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about it. Some of the ways that you can increase your benefits include working for 35 years (the SSA calculates your final benefit based on earnings covering your highest 35 years of work history), delay your benefits, or max out your earnings through your full retirement age. Talk to your Financial Advisor to get a complete picture of what you can do when it comes to Social Security benefits.