Incorporate Social Security to grow

Retiring clients fear outliving their savings. Having a strategy around Social Security can help. While many clients default to collecting at age 62, there are many other options to consider. The rules are complex, but even knowing the basics can help you maximize client benefits.

Why discuss


Boost client loyalty

Demonstrate the value you bring by helping clients determine the right collection strategy.


Increase client referrals

Clients tell their friends about Social Security tips and who shared them.


Grow COI network

Help your center of influence partners (e.g., CPAs, lawyers) answer their clients’ questions to boost referrals.

Tailor conversations to client situations

Never married
Focus on the tradeoff of smaller benefits earlier compared to larger benefits later.
Pay attention to spousal and survivor benefits. Collection decisions should be made jointly.
Divorced (unmarried)
Marriages lasting at least 10 years can entitle divorcees to spousal or survivor benefits.
Minor children
Disabled or minor children under 18 may be entitled to benefits.

Welcome to the walkthrough of BlackRock’s Social Security Benefits Estimator.

This tool will help you illustrate Social Security benefit amounts and breakeven points for your clients whether they are married, single, widowed or divorced to help them maximize their lifetime benefits.

Let’s walk through a scenario using a hypothetical married couple, Jordan and Alex, as an example.

The inputs on the first page are fairly straightforward.

Please note, the tool defaults to husband and wife but it allows you to select Spouse 1 and Spouse 2 for same-sex or gender-neutral couples. 

First, we put in the year in which they were born. In this case, Jordan and Alex were both born in 1962

Second, we need their full retirement age rounded to the nearest whole number. Your clients FRA will be listed on their Social Security Statement, and it is based on the year that they were born. This is age 67 for both Jordan and Alex.

Third, we enter their full retirement age benefit or, as it’s also called, their primary insurance amount. You can find this number on their Social Security statement, we would encourage your clients to obtain the most up-to-date copy of their statement by creating an account on the SSA website. For this example, Jordan’ primary insurance amount is $2,200 and Alex’s is $600.

Since Jordan and Alex are both under 62, we know they are not collecting yet. But, if either of them was older and had started collecting, you will need to know the age they filed and their gross benefit amount. With that information you could calculate an estimate of their FRA benefit. For our tool purposes, you must always enter their FRA benefit amount. This helps us show more accurate projections later on.

Lastly, if Jordan or Alex had worked for part of their employment in a job where they earned a pension but did not pay into Social Security, we would enter that pension amount here. If you need more information about whether to include a client’s pension, you can check the additional information by hovering over the “i” button. In this case, Jordan and Alex do not have any government pensions, so we’ll leave this section set to “No.”

On the next screen, you’ll see a summary table of the benefits Jordan and Alex may be entitled to based on the information on the previous slide. If you need further information on what any of the benefits are, you can check the additional information by hovering over the “i” button, as we previously illustrated.

Some key information to know are the rules around spouse benefits and survivor benefits. A spouse benefit is 50% of your partners FRA benefit and it is only payable if your OWN FRA benefit is less than the spouse benefit.

In this case, the spouse benefit for Alex is $1,100/mon (50% of Jordans FRA benefit). And it is payable to her because her own FRA benefit is $600/mon. Because Alex is eligible for a retirement benefit and a spouse benefit, the two are netted against one another. If she files at FRA, she technically receives $600/mon on her own record and an additional spouse benefit of $500/mon based on Jordans record which equals the full spouse benefit of $1,100/mon. However, keep in mind, the additional spouse benefit is only payable if Jordan is collecting. Therefore, there could be scenarios where Alex files for her own benefit first and the additional spouse benefit later (once Jordan files).

Lastly, its important to know that the survivor benefit is tied directly to Jordans collection decision. As a widow she could receive 100% of what he was collecting or 82.5% of his FRA benefit whichever is greater. For example, if he files at age 70 for $2,728/mon the full survivor benefit is $2,728/mon should he predecease Alex.

If we scroll down, we come to our first look at the output. This area defaults to age 90 for both people. We typically recommend running at least two scenarios, one with shorter longevity and one with longer longevity. Our tool allows you to add up to 4 different longevity assumptions. For today, we will just include one but let’s change the ages to reflect shorter longevity for Jordan. Let’s set Jordan to age 85 and Alex to 90.

If we scroll further to Estimated Lifetime Benefits, we always show 4 different potential collection strategies here. The first three strategies are part of our tools template and unfortunately cannot be removed if your clients are past those ages, so please just ignore them if they are no longer applicable.

The first column, shown in purple, assumes both Jordan and Alex will collect their benefits at age 62. The second column, shown in green, assumes they will collect at full retirement age or age 67 in this case. The third column, shown in light blue, assumes they will wait until age 70 to collect. The last column, shown in dark blue, shows a hybrid approach. The “Hybrid Approach” compares your client’s lifetime income benefits from multiple possible collection strategies. For all the selected life expectancy assumptions, the income benefits received for each strategy are summed and compared. The strategy with the greatest total benefits is then applied to each life expectancy assumption to give the highest average overall benefits. In other words, this column is designed to automatically provide the optimal strategy based on information provided.

In this case, the hybrid approach, described below, shows the wife collects her own benefits at age 67. Husband collects his own benefits at age 70. And the Wife re-files for spousal benefits at age 70 when the husband begins collecting. Now, although this is the optimal strategy this last column can also be customized to show a different strategy. We will cover how to customize this in just a minute.

The table shows the lifetime amounts collected for each strategy (on the last row there) and the chart illustrates the breakeven ages. In this case, if they believe Alex will live past age 84, they should follow the hybrid approach to maximize lifetime benefits. If they believe they both will not have longevity, then maybe they should file earlier.

Now let’s return to some of the customizations the tool offers.

First, we can add growth rates to the results below.

If you want to include Cost of Living Adjustments which are inflation adjustments for benefits, you can add them here. You can choose between .5 and 4%. Historically, they have been 2.5 - 3% on average.

If your clients plan to invest their benefits rather than spend them, you can illustrate what their benefits will grow to by including an investment return here. You can choose between 1 and 8%.

Second, we can customize the collection strategy. This will update that fourth strategy we saw below. You can use a strategy based on your client’s wishes or if one spouse is already collecting, you could select the age they filed to customize the report.

For our custom strategy, Alex will start collecting at age 64 and Jordan will wait until he retires at age 68. Based on your inputs here, you will get options for collecting spousal benefits for one or both spouses. Only options that follow Social Security’s rules will be available. Alex will start collecting her incremental spousal benefits at age 68 once Jordan files. Jordan will not collect spousal benefits because his own benefit is too high.

Once we’re happy with our customizations, we can choose to create a PDF report to share with clients.

If you have any questions about the tool or collecting Social Security benefits, please visit our website at or reach out to your BlackRock representative.

Social Security benefits estimator

Danielle Lore, a Client Education Specialist with BlackRock Business Consulting, walks you through how to use this tool to help your married, divorced, widowed and single clients select their strategy by comparing lifetime benefits across collection strategies and longevity assumptions.

Share client-approved resources

Client brochure
Help your clients understand the fundamentals to make the best decision for their circumstances
Frequently asked questions
Clients often ask similar questions about benefits and acronyms. Use our frequently asked questions to provide the guidance and answers your clients need.
Quick reference guide
Share this “cheat sheet” of the important rules and time frames to help your clients make more educated decisions around collecting benefits.

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