Have a question about Social Security? These 20,000 people might have an answer

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Devin Carroll knew that Social Security is the backbone for many Americans’ retirement security, and yet, because it’s wildly complicated to understand, and everyone’s situation is different, people may choose to do so when they claim these benefits. often lose.

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As a result, there was an “overwhelming appetite” for information about Social Security, so Carroll, the founder of the Carroll Advisory Group, created a blog called Social Security Intelligence and, in 2015, began a Youtube channel, although it didn’t get much traction at first. Two years after leaving the YouTube project, he noticed that one of his videos had 40,000 views, so he decided to try it again. His videos and blog eventually brought in so much traffic with thousands of hits that he was flooded with questions.

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“It got to the point that I wasn’t able to help people,” he said. “It would take a whole day and then some people to respond to these emails.” Instead, he made A group On Facebook in 2019, where people can ask and answer questions. This is one of several groups devoted to personal finance.

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The group, called the Social Security Intelligence Member Group, has 21,300 members, which discuss strategies and examine broad regulations under the Social Security Administration. Carol has administrators who run the page, and they provide answers to users’ questions. Other members also join in to give their opinion. “It gives them a community,” Carroll said. “The community is responding. And if someone gives a wrong response, someone gives them a call on it.”

While there’s always the possibility that something goes wrong, the crowd is large enough to step in when something doesn’t feel right, Carroll said. “As far as risk is concerned, it is assumed that any interaction in this group is not really qualified ‘advice’, but rather conversations with other people who may know a little more,” he said.

Carroll spoke with Businesshala about his group, the intricacies of Social Security, and what individuals can do to help themselves. This interview was edited for clarity and length.

Market Inspection: What are some of the most frequently asked questions in the group?

Devin Carroll: Two are the ones we see a lot. A — About spouse benefits and how they are calculated. Questions like, “I’m 66 and my wife is 62. If I wait to file for benefits but she files now, how will it affect spousal benefits later?” Or some variation of that. The general overall theme is How do you calculate a spousal benefit? Second we get a lot of, “If I file before full retirement age, what actually counts as earnings?” Because there is a earning limit which is applicable.

MW: Do users also share their experiences?

Carol: They will share the good and the bad. In many cases they will say things like “I went to file for X profit and I was told this but I knew it wasn’t right so I went back and was told it again, so I print Went back after getting out rules.” This is a common thing we’ll see, as well as “I was given bad information by a technician at the Social Security Administration, I showed them to prove I was right. In many cases, they will even say “I had a meeting today and they told me this but it doesn’t feel right. What do you think?” And the community will share their thoughts with the SSA rulebook or perhaps the code of federal rules that pertain to that specific part of the law.

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MW: Social Security is very complicated. What is the best strategy for introducing people to these rules?

Carol: Once they’ve got Facebook groups and free content like YouTube and blogs – if they haven’t answered their questions, it’s time to take it to the next level in consultation with one of my registered Social Security analysts . National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts, So They Can Go Here that website And find a mentor or they can use my link and talk to someone who is on my dedicated team. Not everyone needs these services. Sometimes it’s really simple and I see a lot of people have a tendency to overthink things. This isn’t too difficult to do when you’re in the Social Security rule book because it can lead to some complications and a lot of doubles. It’s like reading the Bible sometimes.

MW: Do you ever see questions about Social Security in the future? I know a lot of young generation is worried about this.

Carol: It is not only the younger generation that is asking. Many people, including those approaching the early age of eligibility who have just turned 62 or are within a few years, are basing their decisions on the idea that Social Security will not be available. This is a flawed assumption for several reasons. Trust funds are expiring, at which point 75-78% of benefits will still be paid out. That is, did nothing. But I really think that what is most likely to happen is that there will be some changes to the system but I don’t think it will affect anyone who is close to the Social Security age right now. The Social Security Administration has a long history of being phased out.

For those who aren’t nearing full retirement age, I think Social Security is about to go through some changes and I don’t know what those changes are really going to be like.

MW: I know it’s important to have an account with the Social Security Administration. Is there anything that you recommend people to do?

Carol: This should be part of your annual financial review. Every year you must log into your Social Security Administration account and check the earnings to make sure they are accurate.

There are many reasons why information goes missing but the truth is that it does happen. There are billions of dollars that go into earnings and the administration can’t always match that, so every year by September I tell people they should check the previous year because if you get 10-15 years down the road and then Try to fix the missing earnings, you can do it but you have to really chase it. One year’s missed earnings can make a difference in your benefit amount.

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MW: Why is it important to have community about something as complex as Social Security?

Carol: Being able to figure out how the rules apply to their individual and specific circumstances is probably the most valuable part of it. We hear a lot about rules of thumb. For example, one that I absolutely hate is that you can delay Social Security. This is a terrible rule. What if you have children at home, or a spouse with a different age, and by waiting until 70, you delay them from receiving benefits? There are many ways to challenge the rules of thumb and the group is really good at that.

We see comments all the time when people come back thanking groups and say that they only filed for benefits they would not have received or known for that group. It’s hard to say if the Social Security Administration would have told him the same thing.

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