News Column

Tips on Maximizing Social Security Benefits

April 21, 2014

Staff Reports --

George Castineiras
George Castineiras (Prudential)

Many U.S. retirees are missing out on the full value of their Social Security benefits, according to Innovative Strategies to Help Maximize Social Security Benefits (PDF), an updated white paper from Prudential.

This can be particularly important for retired U.S. Hispanics.

Among U.S. Hispanic retirees who received Social Security benefits in 2011, 44 percent of married couples and 61 percent of singles relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income, according to a news release.

The average annual Social Security income received by Hispanic men 65 years or older in 2011 was $12,921, while for women it was just $10,438.

Meanwhile, Prudential's Hispanic American Financial Experience study, released in January 2014, indicates that Social Security remains as the top source of retirement income for U.S. Hispanics.

The study shows that Hispanics anticipate retiring three years later than the general population, at age 66, but tend to enjoy a higher financial confidence index.

"For many, a successful retirement plan should include accumulated personal savings as well as guaranteed lifetime income from 401(k) plans and Social Security," George Castineiras, vice president, Total Retirement Solutions, Prudential Retirement, said in the release.

The white paper helps "individuals, particularly women, improve their understanding of Social Security and optimize its role in their retirement planning," he added.

More than 70 percent of retirees decide to start collecting reduced Social Security benefits before reaching the full retirement age, preventing them from collecting higher benefits over their lifetimes, the paper points out.

The paper also "highlights the advantages for women of taking spousal benefits and delaying individual benefits to maximize lifetime Social Security income," M. Cindy Hounsell, president, Women's Institute for Secure Retirement, said in the release.

She added that "the practical strategies available for divorced spouses, widows and widowers as well as the important tax considerations regarding when to take IRA withdrawals and when to claim Social Security benefits" are particularly valuable.

Prudential has created a short video in Spanish that summarizes the benefits of strategies outlined in the paper.

For more information on the financial priorities of the Hispanic community, click here.

Prudential Financial Inc. had more than $1.1 trillion of assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2013. It operates in the U.S., Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Source: (c) 2014. All rights reserved.

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