When it comes to getting ready for retirement, there are many questions surrounding Social Security. Some of the most important include deciding how Social Security payments will fit into your overall retirement income plan and figuring out when to start taking them. Luckily, there are many available resources that can provide help. One common option includes working with a financial advisor who specializes in Social Security and retirement planning. Before you meet with an advisor, though, be sure you have a game plan and a rough estimate of your needs.
What to Look for in a Financial Advisor for Social Security
When it comes to shopping around for a financial advisor who can answer your questions about Social Security and help you plan for the future, it’s important to know what to look for. First and foremost, there are certain certifications that show an advisor’s expertise and whether that professional is equipped to handle planning questions, particularly those surrounding Social Security.
For example, a certified financial planner (CFP), as the name suggests, will be better versed than most in helping you decide your financial plans and how income streams may fit into those plans. While the certification isn’t Social Security specific, figuring out how to work Social Security payments into your long-term financial plan is usually part of what a CFP can help with.
In addition, you can look for an advisor that’s a National Social Security Advisor (NSSA). This is a more niche certification, so advisors who hold it may be few and far between. If you can find one though, NSSAs are specially trained to help you figure out how to manage Social Security before and during retirement. Advisors with an NSSA designation may also be able to help you with a wider range of retirement topics.
Then there is the Registered Social Security Analyst (RSSA) certification. This designation is overseen by the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts, which is a private for-profit company. RSSA certificate holders are trained to use specialized Social Security optimization software that considers relevant factors and generates a report with recommendations for individual clients. One challenge RSSAs often help clients with is timing the submission of an initial claim to start receiving benefits.
How to Find a Financial Advisor for Social Security
Wanting a financial advisor to work with and actually finding one are two entirely different things. If you’re struggling to find an advisor that fits your needs, there are a few tried-and-true methods you can try. Here are three common ways to find a financial advisor who can help you with Social Security:
1. Financial Advisor Matching Tools
Technology has come a long way, and there are now ways you can be matched with a financial advisor in your area. SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool can help you find local financial advisor matches in just a few minutes. In fact, you’ll be paired with up to three financial advisors near you. You can then interview these potential fits and choose the one that you think best aligns with you and your needs.
2. Word of Mouth
Another popular way to find an advisor is to simply ask around. Asking family, friends and other people you trust who they have experience with could lead you to a good financial advisor fit. Most advisors offer free consultations before signing on, so be sure to go over your Social Security and other financial needs during that time.
3. Online Databases
This option can help you expand your research and connect with a wide variety of potential advisors. There are several networks in the country, including The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors and the Financial Planning Association. Each of these organizations has databases you can use to look up advisors with expertise in Social Security.
Questions to Ask Your Social Security Financial Advisor
Above all, when looking for an advisor who can help you navigate Social Security, ask the right questions. Even if you work with a CFP, RSSA or NSSA, you’ll still want to sit down with any potential advisor and make sure they can answer your questions and help you reach Social Security milestones on your retirement journey.
The specific questions you’ll want to ask an advisor will ultimately depend upon your financial situation. However, it’s a good idea to cover these basics:
- What certifications or specializations do you have?
- What kinds of clients do you tend to thrive in working with?
- How much experience do you have dealing with Social Security and other retirement-related issues?
- What kinds of services do you offer?
- How much face time can I expect with you if I become a client?
- What are your fees for financial planning and portfolio management?
- Are you a fee-only or fee-based financial advisor?
You can expand on this list of questions as you see fit, but it’s always a good idea to start with the basics. Additionally, make sure that your potential advisors know you’re looking for help managing Social Security payments as you plan for your financial future. Make your goals clear, especially in terms of what your ideal situations would look like.
As you get closer to retirement and collecting from Social Security, you’ll only have more and more questions. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you make good retirement choices. A financial advisor who’s well-versed in Social Security questions and topics, like a CFP or a NSSA, can be a fantastic resource in helping you get your long-term financial plans all set. However, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and what questions are the most pressing. That way, you can find an advisor who’s truly tailored for your Social Security needs and goals.
Tips for Retirement Planning
- Planning for retirement isn’t always easy. That’s where the insight and guidance of a financial advisor can be most valuable. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- If you decide to go about the financial planning process alone, make sure you prepare ahead of time. SmartAsset’s retirement calculator could help you get a head start in planning for your future.
- Want to start planning around Social Security right now? Check out SmartAsset’s Social Security calculator too.
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