Recently, Dennis Twigg had the opportunity to participate in the Leveraging Social Security Benefits in Retirement seminar put on by the Carroll County Community College Foundation. This informative seminar featured a panel of Planned Giving Advisory Council Members, including Dennis Twigg, and covered various strategies for tax planning, long-term care planning, asset protection, crisis planning, and more.
Dennis Twigg Was a Featured Panelist
Dennis Twigg, Esq. is one of our attorneys and partners at Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott, & Halstad, LLP. He has worked as an attorney on a variety of cases, including those dealing with wills and elder law, for over a decade. He can practice in both Maryland and Pennsylvania, and he gives back to the community through serving on the Carroll Community College Foundation’s Planned Giving Advisory Committee. Dennis’ practice areas include:
- Estate administration
- Estate planning
- Elder law
He is here to serve you and your family as you prepare for whatever the future might hold, including the aging process.
Understanding Social Security Benefits
Social Security benefits were heavily addressed throughout the seminar, as they are one of the most misunderstood parts of the aging process. There are three primary types of Social Security benefits:
- Retirement benefits based on your work history and the highest 35 years of your earnings
- Spousal benefits that are based on 50% of your spouse’s benefit
- Survivor benefits that are offered to surviving spouses and sometimes divorced spouses
Because there are so many circumstances in which benefits are offered, it can be hard to understand your exact benefits. The government provides free annual Social Security statements that give you an idea of what you will be getting. You can also use their free online Estimate Your Retirement Benefits calculators. These calculators help you understand the cost of collecting Social Security benefits early.
Understanding Social Security for Divorced Spouses
Some of the most common questions about Social Security benefits include those surrounding divorced spouses. For divorced spouses to be eligible, they must be 62 or older, have been married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer, and must not be remarried or already entitled to more benefits from their own earnings. Divorced spouses who are eligible will be able to receive 50% of the primary insurance amount at their normal retirement age.
It’s also important to know that divorced spouses can get spousal benefits before their spouse applies for their own Social Security benefits. If you were married for 10 years or longer and are 62 or older, you can apply for benefits. This is different from current spouses, who are not able to apply for their own until the covered worker (their spouse) files for Social Security benefits.
Understanding Social Security for Survivors
Surviving spouses are also able to collect Social Security. They will get the higher of their spouse’s benefit or their own benefits and cannot collect both. As a rule, the survivor must be 60 years or older or disabled and 50 years or older. Before the other spouse passed, the marriage must have lasted for at least 9 months. Depending on your specific situation, there are some exceptions in the event of an accident.
Understanding Social Security Tax Liability
Another common point of concern for many people is the taxation rules regarding Social Security benefits. If you are making provisional income that is above the base amount, the amount exceeding it will be taxable. Working with an experienced attorney is critical in these situations, as they will be able to help you determine the best way to reposition your assets so that your tax liability is lower.
Many adults could benefit from estate planning focused on maximizing your assets during retirement and after your death. Contact us for help with your estate plan.
Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott & Halstad, LLP Can Help With Your Retirement and Estate Planning
Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott & Halstad LLP is an established law practice dedicated to assisting families and seniors throughout every step of the aging process so that they are prepared for anything that the future might hold. We focus on wills, estates, trusts, personal injury law, business law, elder law and real estate law. To get in touch or schedule your consultation, call us at your convenience at (410) 848-4444.