Bogleheads® Live

Mike Piper on Social Security

July 04, 2022 Mike Piper, CPA Episode 9
Show Notes Transcript

[00:00:03] Jon Luskin: Bogleheads® Live is our ongoing Twitter Space series where the do-it-yourself investor community asks their questions to financial experts live on Twitter. You can ask your questions by joining us for the next Twitter Space. Get the dates and times for the next Bogleheads® Live by following the John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy on Twitter. That’s @Bogleheads.

 

[00:00:22] For those that can’t make the live events, episodes are recorded and turned into a podcast. This is that podcast.

 

[00:00:38] Thank you everyone for joining us today for the 9th episode of Bogleheads® Live. My name is Jon Luskin, and I’m the host for today. My co-host for today is Mike Piper. Mike is a CPA in the St. Louis area. He’s written several books, dealing with various tax and retirement planning concepts, and has been quoted about such topics in numerous publications from The Wall Street Journal to AARP to Morningstar. He publishes articles regularly about tax planning, retirement planning, Social Security, and other various financial planning topics on his blog at obliviousinvestor.com. He’s also the creator of the Open Social Security calculator.

 

[00:01:16] Today we’ll be discussing just that - Social Security.

 

[00:01:20] I’ll be rotating between asking my questions that I got beforehand from the Bogleheads® forum at Bogleheads.org and Bogleheads® Reddit and taking live audience questions from the folks here today.

 

[00:01:32] Let’s start by talking about the Bogleheads®, a community of investors who believe in keeping it simple by following a small number of tried-and-true investing principles. You can learn more at the John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy at boglecenter.net.

 

[00:01:48] We’ll be holding the annual Bogleheads® Conference on October 12th through 14th in the Chicago area. We’re pretty sure the agenda and speaker line-up will knock you out in a good way. Speakers include Eric Balchunas, author of “The Bogle Effect”; economist Burton Malkiel; Jason Zweig of Wall Street Journal; today’s co-host Mike Piper; Rick Ferri the host of the Bogleheads® On Investing podcast; Christine Benz of Morningstar; yours truly, and so much more. Registration is now open.

 

[00:02:16] Mark your calendars for future episodes of Bogleheads® Live. Next Thursday we will have Paul Merriman on picking asset classes. The next week we will have Cody Garrett and Sean Mullaney discussing tax planning for early retirees. On June 1st we will have Robin Wigglesworth discussing his book “Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever”. You can see the full list of future guests at https://www.bogleheads.org/blog/bogleheads-live/.

 

[00:02:48] Let’s get started on today’s show on Social Security with Mike Piper.

 

[00:02:54] I received a lot of great questions. So, thank you to everyone who submitted questions on the Bogleheads® forums ahead of time. We may not have enough time to answer all those questions. Let’s start with one that’s related to our topic today on Social Security. Mike, thank you for joining us today on Bogleheads® Live.

 

[00:03:07] Let me give you the first question. This one is from USAFperio, he is on the Bogleheads® forums, and he writes, “All else being equal, which is usually better from a tax perspective in the years between early retirement and Social Security and starting RMDs, should I do Roth conversions or should I do tax gain harvesting?”

 

[00:03:28] Mike Piper: What this person’s asking about is a period of time where you’ve retired already, which means that income has gone down, obviously, and Social Security hasn’t started yet and Required Minimum Distributions haven’t started yet, so those two sources of income are still in the future. So, you’ve got this temporary window of time where your income is lower than it usually is and lower than it’s going to be later on.

 

[00:03:53] So, the question is how do we take advantage of that temporarily low level of income? Do we want to do Roth conversions or do we want to do tax gain harvesting – which for those who aren’t familiar with it, basically if your taxable income is low enough – below about $83,000 if you’re married filing jointly and half that for a single person – if your income is below that level, long-term capital gains are taxed at a 0% tax rate. So, the idea is you intentionally sell some things that have gone up in value and then you have a capital gain but it’s at 0% tax rate so it’s tax free, and you can buy them again. Now your cost basis is the current market value. If you sell them later on, it’ll be a smaller capital gain.

 

[00:04:30] So, which of those two things do we want to do? And what I have found is that obviously tax planning is case-by-case, but in most cases, “Roth conversions” is the answer. And, the reason for that is that when we’re picking a spending rate in retirement, we generally pick a conservative spending rate because we have to plan for the possibility that you are going to get very bad returns and live a super-duper long time. So, we have to pick a spending rate that’s still going to support our lifestyle even if both those things happen. But of course, most of the time they don’t happen. You don’t generally get super bad returns as well as live forever. So, where I’m going with this is that most of the time, people end up with a pile of money when they die. If you have retired on your assets, you’re going to have a lot of money left over when you eventually pass away in most of the different outcomes that can happen.

 

[00:05:26] The reason that’s important here is that if you don’t sell these appreciated taxable assets - you don’t tax gain harvest them now - there’s a good chance these gains are going to be tax-free later anyway because they can just be left to your heirs. You could just prioritize leaving those as some of the last assets that you would spend. And, so in most cases they go tax free anyhow. Or, at some point, if you wanted to you can donate them to a nonprofit organization which, again, the gain, the appreciation, gets to go untaxed.

 

[00:05:58] So, in a whole lot of cases that I end up looking at, it’s very likely the gains aren’t going to be taxed anyway. So, using up that space right now to tax gain harvest doesn’t make as much sense as Roth conversions in most cases. The other reason is that it then keeps you to this $83,000 limit (or half that if you’re single) which just doesn’t leave a whole lot of space for taking advantage of this low income level. In many cases during this window, Roth conversions to a much higher level can make sense if we’re talking about people with very significant tax-deferred accounts. So, again, case-by-case, but in most of the cases I look at, Roth conversions end up making more sense than tax gain harvesting.

 

[00:06:38] Jon: That is super fascinating to see legacy planning being a huge part of that decision. Am I going to leave this taxable account to someone else? If so, I probably want to leave it alone.

 

[00:06:50] I’ve got a related question for you. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a chance to play with this. I’ve been using the partial Roth conversion and Social Security planning software “Income Solver” put together by William Reichenstein and company. And, the answer is always the same when you’re using that partial Roth conversion software, which is if you die tomorrow, don’t bother doing a Roth conversion. But, if you live super long, be really aggressive with that Roth conversion. I’m curious: what considerations do you have in life expectancy for doing Roth conversion planning?

 

[00:07:24] Mike: Well in this very, very simple case where if you imagine a person’s entire portfolio, there’s no taxable assets, it’s just tax-deferred assets and Roth assets: in that case, life expectancy doesn’t actually matter at all because we’re just dealing with the commutative property of multiplication – either you’re paying taxes now, or you’re paying taxes later, and all that matters is the tax rate; it doesn’t matter when you pay it.

 

[00:07:46] However, it’s where it’s person who’s going to be using taxable assets – so dollars that are not in a retirement account – they’re going to be using those dollars to pay the tax on the conversion, in that case, the longer the period of time in question, the more advantageous conversion becomes. And the reason for that is basically assets in a taxable account incur tax drag every year. The after-tax rate of return that you get is a little bit less than the before-tax rate of return that you get. So, the rate of return is impeded, and just like we know from every time we talk about index funds, even a little slice coming out of your returns makes a big difference over a very long period of time. And, so here, the slice that we’re talking about is taxes, and the period of time they’re talking about is your remaining life expectancy. So, the longer that period of time is, the more important the tax drag becomes. Therefore, the more valuable it becomes to use the taxable dollars as the money they’re going to use to pay the tax to convert some of your tax-deferred assets.

 

[00:08:51] Jon: Well said. Every good Boglehead® is obsessed with cost, tax drag being a cost. Absolutely. David, you can ask your question on Social Security to Mike Piper.

 

[00:09:01] David: Mike, thank you for your time today. I find it extremely intriguing and compelling that you chose one fund to invest in. I call them the Target Risk funds at Vanguard. I was just wondering if you could share the process you went through to get to that point. I find those funds quite fascinating and compelling as well. And then my other question is on Social Security, at the end of the day does it really matter whether you take Social Security immediately or you wait until you’re 70? I know that individuals have indifference curves and there are certain preferences, but from a strictly statistical perspective, thinking about actuarial equivalency.

 

[00:09:40] Mike: First question, the LifeStrategy funds. The process – so this was back when Vanguard made the changes in 2011, maybe 2012 - the LifeStrategy funds, for those who aren’t familiar, 12 years ago or so they used to have the Vanguard Asset Allocation Fund included in them, which was basically the Vanguard market-timing fund, which was not something that particularly appealed to me. But then at some point they made them completely passive and once they did that, I was looking at it, saying, “I think I like this concept” and thought about it for a while and eventually decided to go with it. So now that’s where our portfolio has been for a little over a decade.

 

[00:10:16] There isn’t a ton of analysis to be done because it’s just a few index funds underneath that wrapper, and if you are happy with those underlying index funds, there’s not a whole lot more to it with the big, big, big caveat that these funds are not good for taxable accounts. Funds-of-funds or all-in-one funds are just not a good choice for taxable accounts. But for retirement accounts, if you like the simplicity, it’s a slightly higher expense ratio than holding the individual index funds or ETFs would be. And you can do the arithmetic on your own and decide if that additional dollar cost is worth the time that you don’t have to spend rebalancing and just thinking about it in general. And I decided that for us, it is. Obviously other people are going to make a different decision and that’s fine.

 

[00:11:01] Jon: I’m certainly biased toward simplicity. I think a lot of other Bogleheads® are, too. So, using that single fund, I certainly understand your point. 

 

[00:11:11] Mike: As far as Social Security’s actuarial equivalence, I love this topic. The idea of actuarial equivalence, or actuarially neutral, the idea is that the program was designed so that no matter what age you file for Social Security you would be expected to receive about the same amount in total over the course of your lifetime. That’s the idea. There are three issues with that. The more important issues are that interest rates, they’ve come up a little bit lately, but they’re still lower than the ones that are baked into the system. Which means that delaying is slightly advantageous rather than being neutral. At least the push is in that direction.

 

[00:11:52] The other point is that life expectancies are somewhat longer than they were when the system was created. Because it’s not like they update the math every year. Even though life expectancies and interest rates do change over time, the Social Security benefit calculations stay the same. So that’s also another point. So, you’ve got these two points slightly pushing in favor of delaying, which is why it is slightly advantageous for a single person to delay benefits.

 

[00:12:17] But the big important point here is that the system was never set up to be actuarially neutral for a married couple. It just isn’t. That’s not how it works. It was set up to be actuarially neutral for a single person. But with a couple you’ve got survivor benefits involved. And, so, the math just completely changes, and basically the way it works is that when the higher earner in a couple delays taking his or her benefit, it increases the amount that the couple receives as long as either of the two people is still alive because it increases that person’s own retirement benefit. And if the lower earner ends up being the one that lives longer, then that lower earner’s survivor benefit will be increased as a result of that higher earner having waited. So, the cost of the higher earner waiting for claiming their own retirement benefit is the same as it would be if they were single except now instead of getting a lifetime annuity, they’re getting a joint lifetime annuity. So, if it was actuarially neutral for a single person, for this higher earner in a married couple it’s not remotely neutral – it’s way better than neutral to delay.

 

[00:13:21] And the opposite is actually true for the lower earner. So, when the lower earner delays taking benefits, it increases the amount the household receives as long as both people are still alive, which is a shorter length of time than a single life expectancy. So, it’s less advantageous for that person to delay. So, basically, you could think of it as, the system was set up to be neutral for a single person and advantageous for the higher earner in a married couple and disadvantageous for the lower earner in a married couple to delay. But all three of those things have been kind of shifted in favor of waiting because of the point about interest rates and life expectancies having gone up – or interest rates having gone down and life expectancies having gone up. So now we have this situation where it’s extremely advantageous for the higher earner to delay, slightly advantageous for an unmarried person to delay, and roughly neutral for the lower earner in a married couple.

 

[00:14:15] Jon: We have a related question that I’ll ask next on using a single fund from Kashmir79 from Bogleheads® Reddit. He asks if Mike Piper still holds the Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth Fund and how, in any context, he sees that Social Security as an annuity which could replace some of the bond allocation in a portfolio?

 

[00:14:45] Mike: So, I guess we’re talking about how I plan to use this fund as we actually move into retirement? Whether we’ll still be using it at that time I don’t know. The available products change over time, right? And it’s not as if my wife and I were planning on retiring in the next few years. That’s probably just not happening. So, this is really a hypothetical exercise for us. It’s entirely possible that we end up with some other allocation when the time actually comes. So, the general idea is that when you’re delaying Social Security, the assets that should be used to fund the higher level of spending from the portfolio in those pre-Social Security years, it should be fixed-income assets that are used. Both because that’s the way you can keep the risk level roughly the same, but also because when talking about delaying Social Security and what’s the expected rate of return involved, and what we’re usually using is the discount rate is the expected return from the fixed-income part of the portfolio.

 

[00:15:48] So, yeah, absolutely you could at some point take that 80/20 allocation and crack it out into its individual components. And then that 20% that’s in bonds you could manually spend that down while delaying Social Security. Absolutely you could do that. As far as whether that’s actually what my wife and I will be doing when the time comes, it’s hard to say. It’s not in the super near future.

 

[00:16:11] Jon: Certainly, with that fund being in a tax-advantaged account you could blow out of that any time to a different stock/bond mix and not have to worry about realizing taxes on that transaction.

 

[00:16:24] [Boglehead user] Prosper goals writes, “how can I estimate my payment at full retirement age or age 70 if I plan to retire at age 60? It is my understanding that what I see on my Social Security statement is an estimate based on the assumption that I will work until I claim.”

 

[00:16:45] Mike: That’s correct. The Social Security statements assume that you were going to work until whatever filing age and they use whatever most recent year of earnings they have for you, that’s the level of earnings they project forward. So, last year you earned $80,000, then they’re assuming you’re going and keep working and earning $80,000 until whatever year you file for benefits. So, if you’re actually planning on retiring in six months from now, and you’re currently age 60, then the benefit estimates on your statements are overestimates, basically.

 

[00:17:15] So, you can do this with arithmetic and it’s not so bad. Because the calculators on the SSA website, they do let you say when you’re planning on retiring, so you can say I’m going to stop working at 60 but then it’ll estimate what your benefit at age 62 will be. But that’s no big deal because your benefit at age 62, if you have a full retirement age of 67, your age 62 benefit is 70% of your primary insurance amount (PIA). So, you could take that age 62 benefit and divide by 0.7, that’ll tell you your benefit at full retirement age. And if you wanted to find out what it is at age 70 you could multiply that by 1.24, and that would tell you your benefit at 70.

 

[00:17:52] Or if you don’t want to do any of the math on your own, ssa.tools is a calculator that’s real easy to use, really, really neat. It’s also free. It’s made by another person who’s active on Bogleheads® (Greg). I can’t recommend it enough. As far as I know it’s the easiest-to-use calculator for just calculating your benefit at different ages. You copy and paste in your earnings history from the SSA website, hit the button, and then you can use a little slider to say “This is how much I plan on continuing to earn until whatever age, and this is the age I plan on filing” and it’ll just do all the math for you.

 

[00:18:24] Jon: Ross asks his question on Social Security to Mike.

 

[00:18:29] Ross: Mike, thanks so much for doing this. Jon thanks for doing this. But I want to just give you the opportunity to tell us about your Open Social Security tool, I love using it. Is there anything you think is useful for people to know about what it can and can’t do going in? And just tell us the magic of your tool. 

 

[00:18:49] Mike: Sure, Open Social Security - for anybody who hasn’t used it - you put in all of the relevant information, and it does the math for all of the different possible filing ages - or if you’re married all the combinations of filing - and it tells you which is the filing age or combination of filing ages that results in highest expected present value of benefits over your lifetime. More importantly, though, it also provides you with a color-coded chart at the bottom that lets you compare a whole bunch of different filing ages visually all at once. Because it’s going to recommend whatever one is best, but usually if this particular filing age is best, one month before that or one month after that is going to be just about the same thing. So, it gives you a color-coded chart so you can see a collection of filing ages is about the same.

 

[00:19:34] As far as things that people should know about it, limitations, the biggest one I would say is that it doesn’t account for taxes. So that’s the big limitation. Because, there could be, basically whenever you see that these two filing strategies are similar to each other in terms of expected present value, then you could say, “okay, well, from a tax point-of-view what should we do?” Then that can point you in one direction or another.

 

[00:19:55] Jon: I’m certainly going to echo Ross’ point about opensocialsecurity.com being a phenomenal resource. I use it quite often, and I like not only that it gives you the ideal claiming strategy for – Mike, you can let me know if I’m presenting this correctly or not – life expectancy based on the various actuarial tables. But then you can tweak it from there. You can see what the benefits would be if you changed when you claim. It’s really neat to have that tool and the ability to play with the outcomes a little bit and see what the different inputs would create in terms of the benefit you can expect over your life. Fantastic.

 

[00:20:40] er999 writes, “For a couple with very unequal incomes - one person earning the max Social Security wage, the other person earning only between 20% to 40% of it - is there any benefit to the lower earning spouse continuing to earn Social Security credits or does the spousal benefit from higher earner outweigh any additional benefits that the lower earner could earn on their own? This is my personal situation where my wife, when working, was making something in the $30,000-$40,000 range, and she will likely pick up a few more hours part-time this year to earn the final credit to get to forty credits. But I don’t know if there would be any benefits for doing so. I should have 35 years of much higher earning from my own record.”

 

[00:21:30] Mike: So, is there a benefit to her continuing to work? The answer is yes, probably, for a few reasons here. Number one is if she didn’t get that 40th credit to qualify for her own retirement, let’s say the person who wrote in with the question, if they waited until age 70, their spouse, she can’t get a spousal benefit until the person starts his or her own retirement at age 70. They’re both having to wait. Whereas if the lower earner qualifies for her own retirement, then she can get something in the meantime. And the larger that benefit is, so the more work she does, the larger the benefit she can collect in the meantime.

 

[00:22:11] So, there’s that point. There’s another point that if she ends up filing early, the way the math works the reduction for retirement benefits as a percentage is not as great as the reduction for spousal benefits as a percentage. That’s another slight point. And the third point is if the unhappy scenario happens, if the person who wrote in with the question leaves for work tomorrow and gets hit by a bus then the wife - the survivor - she can file for a survivor benefit, and that benefit maxes out after full retirement age. But in the meantime, she can file what’s called a restricted application for just her own retirement benefit, and collect that while she lets that survivor benefit continue to grow until it maxes out. And so, again, the larger her own benefit the more she would be collecting in the meantime.

 

[00:22:58] That scenario is not very likely, and the other two scenarios, while they’re more likely, we’re just not talking about huge dollar amounts. So, in terms of the big question - should this person’s wife go back to work - there’s a million considerations. Just quality of life considerations and so on that are going to end up being much bigger factors in that decision. Will the expected total amount of Social Security that the household receives go up? Yeah, by a little bit. But it’s not going to be a huge amount at all.

 

[00:23:25] Jon: Mike, you made the exact point that I was thinking. Yes, there might be a benefit, but perhaps we shouldn’t necessarily plan our life around our Social Security claiming strategy. Especially as you shared with us, since the difference is so small anyway.

 

[00:23:41] ‘should have’ writes: “I’m currently 63 with a primary insurance amount of $3,165, and my wife will turn 62 later this year. Her primary insurance amount is $1,853. I plugged our PIAs into Mike’s Open Social Security calculator, where it tells my wife to file at 63 and 9 months and for me to wait until 70. If I follow Mike’s strategy for Social Security claiming, and if I pass away early before my wife reaches full retirement age, I’m scared that someone at Social Security will tell my wife to switch to file for our survivor benefits. I’d like to see some documents where my wife can file to collect her own benefits until she reaches full retirement age before switching to survivor benefits. Is there any official Social Security publication similar to IRS documents?

 

[00:24:37] Mike: Sure, so, there might be an SSA employee who encourages her to file for her survivor benefit immediately, and she can say “no, thank you.” As far as documentation, the two things I would look up - they’re both from the POMS: Program Operations Manual System – which is the SSA’s internal manual, basically. So, if you google “ssa.gov POMS deemed filing”, you’ll get the applicable POMS reference for that. And then if you google “ssa.gov POMS scope of the application” you’ll get the applicable POMS reference for that. And both of those two documents, what they are going to show you is that deemed filing is the set of rules that basically say that in some cases, if you file for benefit ‘A’ you’re automatically deemed to have filed for benefit ‘B’ as well. At the same time. What those two documents will show you is they state very unequivocally that deemed filing does not apply for survivor benefits. And, even it’s in bold in one of them. It does not apply to survivor benefits. So, there’s no question about it. If this person’s wife were to run into an SSA employee who had a misconception, you could show them this. It’s very clear language. It should deal with any miscommunications or misconceptions pretty promptly.

 

[00:25:55] Jon: Two things I think about. Number one, this is where putting together an emergency letter or a signed letter of instruction for your friends and family is going to be a great estate planning move. Setting them up for success in your absence. Communicating the family Social Security claiming strategy on that emergency letter can be a great way to do that. And that’s going to be especially important if you’re the personal finance nerd in the family and the other family members less so. And then, Mike, I know you’ve mentioned this in some of your other works before is that, not every Social Security staff member is going to be up to speed on every claiming strategy. So, it’s best to research yourself, reading your book for example, knowing what your plan is for your own Social Security claiming strategy. Not necessarily depending upon the SSA staff.

 

[00:26:40] Mike: Yes, absolutely true. SSA staff, they’re tasked with implementing a very complicated system. A complicated system that deals with a bunch of different topics. They generally do a very good job, but mistakes can happen. So, it’s a good idea to do your research beforehand and ideally have some documents in hand.

 

[00:26:57] Jon: Wonderful. Here is one on survivor benefits. SchruteB&B from the Bogleheads® forums asks, “I do not currently have enough credits to qualify for Social Security, so as things stand now, I will only be entitled to a spousal benefit. My spouse is two years younger than I am. If my spouse dies before either of us reach full retirement age - which is age 67 for both of us – then, question number one, am I entitled to 100% of what my spouse would have received at full retirement age, sharing that I do not want to or intend to claim early. And question number two and if so when am I claiming? When my spouse would have reached 67 if they had lived, or when I reach 67?”

[00:27:46] Mike: Okay, so, first question is this person gets 100% of the deceased spouse’s primary insurance amount? We’ve been using this term a little bit - primary insurance amount is the amount you would get if you file for your benefit at full retirement age. So, we’ve got the working spouse and the non-working spouse. If the working spouse dies without having filed for benefits, if they are younger than full retirement age, then the surviving spouse’s maximum survivor benefit is going to be 100% of the deceased spouse’s primary insurance amount.

 

[00:28:21] Now if that spouse - the working spouse - lived to past full retirement age but hadn’t yet filed, so let’s say they hadn’t filed but then they die at age 69, then the surviving spouse’s maximum survivor benefit is basically the retirement benefit that the working spouse would have gotten if they had filed on their date of death. 

 

[00:28:38] So, to the person’s question about can I get 100% of the primary insurance amount, the answer is yes. And when to file or to get that depends on your age as the survivor. You have to wait until you have reached your full retirement age in order to not have your survivor benefit reduced. Quick note, survivor full retirement age is not necessarily the same thing as full retirement age for retirement or spousal benefits. It is the same thing for most people, but sometimes it’s going to be two months different. So, might as well take a minute to look that up if you actually find yourself in those circumstances.

 

[00:29:14] Jon: ‘Agent 99’ writes “Question about widow benefits: DH died at 69. He did not collect Social Security. My plan - so, surviving spouse - is to wait until 66 and two months so I can collect 100% of his benefit. Question number one, does DH’s benefit get COLA-adjusted from the date of his death until I claim it? And question number two, if I claim his benefit at 65 - in two months from now - it is reduced by 5.4%. Given the 5.9% COLA this year, take it now and reap the COLA benefits?”

 

[00:29:55] Mike: The way COLAs work with Social Security is that, starting with the age where you turn 62, your primary insurance amount gets adjusted upward based on consumer price index. Based on actual price inflation. And that adjustment happens regardless of whether or not you have filed. And because it’s adjusting your primary insurance amount, it’s also adjusting anybody else’s benefits that are based on your primary insurance amount. So, somebody’s benefit as your spouse or somebody’s benefit as your child or somebody’s benefit as your widow or widower. Does the COLA apply since their death? Yes, is the answer. And the question of, does that mean that you should file for it? Again, the COLA applies whether or not you have filed. So, sometimes people think “oh gosh I need to file because the COLA was really big this year. Do I need to tell file right now in January to make sure I get that COLA?” And the answer is no, you get that COLA regardless of whether or not you have filed.

 

[00:30:50] The person is doing some math comparing the reduction for filing early to the COLA. You really don’t need to be doing any math like that. You get the COLA regardless of whether you file now or later. It’s just a question of, do you want that reduced benefit from filing early, or do you want to go ahead and wait until full retirement age and let survivor benefit max out? That’s pretty much the question. That’s all there is to it. Doesn’t really have a lot to do with COLA because that COLA happens one way or another.

 

[00:31:17] Jon: You’re going to get that COLA whether you file this year or next year. If you’re going to file next year, you’ll get this year’s COLA and next year’s COLA, too. You don’t need to think about COLA with respect to, “what am I going to claim?” Those benefits go up for at least what the Social Security Administration thinks inflation is. That’s a whole other topic we can debate about whether the measure they use is appropriate or not. But with respect to “Hey, when do I claim? Should I consider COLA?” No, it doesn’t even come into the equation.

 

[00:31:48] Mike: Yep, exactly.

 

[00:31:50] Jon: Well folks, that is going to be it. That is all the time we have for today. Thank you to Mike Piper for joining us today. And thank you for everyone who joined us for today’s Bogleheads® Live. Our next Bogleheads® Live will be on May 19th. Paul Merriman will be our guest, and we’ll be discussing selecting asset classes. The week after that we’ll have Cody Garrett and Sean Mullaney discussing tax planning for early retirees. Until then, you can access a wealth of information on the Bogleheads® forum, Bogleheads® Wiki, Bogleheads® Reddit, Bogleheads® Facebook, Bogleheads® Twitter, Bogleheads® YouTube, Bogleheads® local chapters - shout out to my San Diego group - Bogleheads® virtual online chapters, the Bogleheads® on Investing Podcast, and Bogleheads® books.

 

[00:32:36] The John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. At boglecenter.net, your tax-deductible donations are greatly appreciated. Thank you again everyone. Have a great week.