Most Retirees Are Surprised by Social Security Options; Family Investment Center Highlights Lessons Learned at Three Year Milestone for Using Social Security Software

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Many approaching retirement think that Social Security is a “sign on the line and start drawing it” offering – rather than viewing it as a legitimate investment offered by the government and one they’ve already paid for. Family Investment Center reflects on the surprises and successes of Social Security maximization this January 2014, as they mark a three-year milestone of using a software program that helps clients see future scenarios and how their choices impact their families.

Money is freedom. Freedom is fun.

Family Investment Center is marking a three-year milestone using software to help clients understand their options for Social Security payments; most believe Social Security is an "as-is" benefit.

As we enter our fourth year with the software, we keep seeing couples who don't know how small the window for change is -- which is why couples need to know the facts before they retire. It's an investment with options, and these make a big impact.

By the time most couples approach retirement, they believe they have a basic understanding of the Social Security benefits to which they’re entitled. They’re wrong, says Family Investment Center and other investment management experts.

After three years of offering individual service through a specialized Social Security software tool, Family Investment Center says that many retirees fail to see that they have several options -- and these options can make a very significant impact on the surviving spouse when the first member of a couple passes away. Social Security is not a “sign and it’s done” situation. It’s a long-term payment stream from the government that’s already been purchased, and it deserves a second look.

Family Investment Center, an investment management firm located in the Midwest, has dedicated team members working on Social Security maximization. Since 2011, the team has been actively using specialized software to guide couples through the options. The strategies they’ve proposed have inspired couples to go to their local Social Security office and change their payment option in just one afternoon. Those who have already withdrawn may have to pay back collected benefits, but it’s often worth the hassle. As the team looks at 2014 as the three-year milestone for using the software, they note that some couples can see a difference between potentially drawing $500,000 and drawing $650,000 in monthly income over their lifetimes.

With this knowledge, Family Investment Center is now among investment firms working to share information that retirees need to make choices, recently emphasizing how using maximization software the right way can make a huge difference. Elaine Coder is a Social Security and investment advisor at Family Investment Center and has extensive experience and training on the software. Coder notes several success stories when individuals or couples take time to see what their options are and make some predictions. The software itself requires specialized training and experience, but it’s a service Family Investment Center includes as part of its mission. Recently, the team has also begun offering new literature pieces highlighting the facts of Social Security choices.

“Planning a Social Security benefits strategy is not an easy task,” says Coder. “The problem is that once the decision is made, there is only a 12-month window in which changes can be made, which is why couples need to know the facts before they retire. The rules can be very complex, and even though Social Security is fully insured by the government, professional advice is needed to maximize the return. It's an investment with options, and these make a big impact. We've seen this time and time again in the past three years.”

Danford, quoted for investment insights by sources including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, continually emphasizes how survivor benefits can be greatly influenced when the wrong choice is made. “The fact is that nobody knows how long they’ll live, but there are many scenarios to consider before making a choice in benefits. Family Investment Center’s special software creates life expectancy scenarios that assist clients in making the right decision. It’s their money, and we want to see people make the most successful choices for themselves as we carry this tool forward in 2014,” says Danford.

Danford also notes their team has noted a great deal of freedom and peace when people really consider their Social Security options, and take steps to help maximize their scenario before retiring. “When the right choices are made, families don’t have to worry about reliance on outside savings, which gives them more financial flexibility. This usually entails putting off drawing benefits for a few years, which requires a good deal of planning ahead of time, but can be the difference of a great deal of money later. The maximization software we've been using continues to show them this potential difference. We've accumulated a lot of great stories over the past three years."

Every case is unique, but the investment professionals at Family Investment Center are able to show their clients how they’ll benefit if they delay collecting benefits using the software functionality. Making the right decision can increase the monthly retirement income for the surviving spouse, reduce dependency on family savings, leave more money to heirs, and increase monthly retirement income. For more information, visit

About Dan Danford and Family Investment Center

Dan Danford serves as president/CEO of Family Investment Center, a full-service, commission-free investment advisory firm. Based in St. Joseph, Mo., Family Investment Center also serves clients in the Kansas City Northland area.

In 2012, Danford was featured in the book “America’s Top Financial Advisors.” His insights into the emotions and behaviors related to money were featured in the Wall Street Journal in 2011. A 2009 Wall Street Journal article outlined Danford’s unique birthday messages to clients, complete with a $2 bill inside the envelope. In 2009, Danford was also quoted on “ABC News” for his insight into how parents can protect funds for their children’s college education. He was listed as one of the 150 Best Financial Advisors for Doctors in 2008 and 2009 by Medical Economics magazine. A 2006 article in The New York Times quoted Danford’s insights on working with a financial advisor.

For more information, visit Family Investment Center at or

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Rachel McCoy
since: 01/2009
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