Social Security is one of the most common topics that financial advisors get asked about. It’s no wonder why—the program can be confusing, and it’s constantly changing. Advice Chaser decided to dive more into Social Security education and interviewed Marc Kiner. Marc Kiner, CPA, has 35 years of experience in public accounting. Recently, he sold his CPA practice to concentrate on Social Security. His primary areas of service were privately held businesses and individuals. Here are his insights as a Social Security expert.
After 35 years in public accounting, you sold your CPA practice to focus on Social Security. Why did you decide to make that change?
I noticed with my clients that I was getting more and more questions about Social Security. I personally didn’t know where to go for answers for the questions I was getting. So many people had questions about what their payouts would be and what kinds of planning strategies they should use. This told me that there was a significant need for advisors around the country who really understood Social Security so they can give their clients the best advice possible.
There are around 76 million Baby Boomers who are facing retirement soon, so this was a big deal for a large portion of the population looking for financial advice. I was introduced to my business partner, Jim Blair, in 2009. We talked and had the same vision, and by 2010, we started Premier Social Security Consulting together.
What does your current practice do to help people with their Social Security?
We want to help people find the best way to take their benefits from Social Security. When a client comes to us, we want to make that process as simple as possible. We also offer education to other advisors. We teach advisors around the country so they can do consultations on their own. That way, more people get qualified, competent advice on their Social Security.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to other financial advisors who are advising clients on Social Security?
Learn and understand the program. Do all the reading you possibly can. If you don’t know all the details and keep up with the changes, you can’t give adequate advice. Education is the key. Every client will want to draw their benefits at some point in their future, and they will have questions.
What is the biggest misconception that your clients have about Social Security?
Most people aren’t aware that the good people at the Social Security office are not able to give you financial advice on your benefits. They understand their piece of the Social Security program well, but they are prohibited from giving you advice as directed by the Social Security commissioner. That’s not what they’re trained to do.
Some financial advisors will even tell you to call the Social Security office, but that’s not what I recommend. This is why it’s so important for financial advisors to step up and know all the ins and outs of Social Security. If your client doesn’t understand how the program works or they aren’t familiar with all the options that are available, you have to be able to know what to say.
Seriously, go to Amazon and search for “Social Security guide” or “Social Security primer.” There are so many good resources out there for $25 or less. Buy a book and read it. Read articles on Social Security. I’ve read many, many books on Social Security. Read everything you can. The more you read, the more knowledge you have.
What kinds of changes to the Social Security program would you expect to see in the next five years?
I would expect that, within the next five to ten years, the Social Security Administration will raise the retirement age from 67 to probably 70 years old. They may subject more earned income to Social Security tax as well. Then they can collect more taxes to make the system more solvent.
Currently, for the year 2021, the FICA wage base maximum for Social Security tax is $142,800. Maybe in the next five years they’ll tax all of your earned income, or maybe up to $200,000 of your earned income. That’s what I would expect to see down the road.
What’s your favorite part of advising clients?
My favorite part of working with clients is going over their options with them. I want them to understand what their benefits are. Helping clients sort through their options and guiding them through that process is amazing.
How did you choose to partner with Advice Chaser?
A friend of ours, an advisor, told Advice Chaser about us and then Advice Chaser reached out to us. The partnership just made so much sense—being able to put on Social Security workshops is so needed right now. That’s what people are searching for.
We plan on giving some really great workshops through Advice Chaser in the future. The vast majority of people—including a lot of financial advisors—don’t really understand Social Security that well, so that education is something we’re looking forward to helping people with through Advice Chaser.