Q&A: The Financial Side of Retirement

By Molly C. Herndon

Watch the recording of Retirement Ready? Effective Strategies for Military Families
Watch the recording of Retirement Ready? Effective Strategies for Military Families

Many of you had questions that we just didn’t a chance to respond to during the Nov. 1 webinar, Retirement Ready? Effective Strategies for Military Families. Here, Dr. Barbara O’Neill addresses those questions.

Q. Is it always better to wait for full Social Security benefits?

A. Famous financial planning answer…It depends. But some people don’t have that luxury. They need their Social Security benefit money right away to pay their bills or they are in poor health so there is no point in waiting. Absent these two issues, workers will receive a higher benefit if they wait until full retirement age and even more if they continue to wait to age 70 (delayed retirement credits). In addition to benefiting themselves, a decision to wait can also benefit workers’ spouses.

Q. Is it true that if you are divorced, your former spouse can receive 50% of your Social Security earnings without  your Social Security being reduced?

A. Divorced spouses will get the higher of a benefit based on their own work record or their ex-spouse’s work record. The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. Here are the rules. Your benefit as a divorced spouse is equal to one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount (or disability benefit) if you start receiving benefits at your full retirement age. The benefits do not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive.

Q. Other than going to Social Security website, is there a calculator to be able to enter numbers to see the breakeven for Social Security (when is it not worth waiting any longer) particularly for those individuals that will fall into Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

A. For some helpful break-even resources, see

It should be noted that the WEP will NOT take effect until someone collects a government pension. If they collect SS while still working after FRA, they’ll get a full SS benefit until they retire.

Many more of you had questions about the new Blended Retirement System, and we will address those too! Questions shared in the chat pod in today’s discussion were sent to the presenter of our scheduled Military Blended Retirement System webinar on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 11 a.m. ET so make plans to join us.

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