How to Boost Your Social Security Benefits

How to Boost Your Social Security Benefits

social security cardSocial Security checks and benefits are paid out in monthly dividends to retired workers who have contributed to the Social Security system. Social Security checks are available to qualified individuals who are also permanently disabled or are determined by a criteria issued by the Social Security Administration.

Depending on the level of income, these benefits may be taxable. Social Security is actually a face lift to the old Survivors and Disability Insurance. Former President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935, with the law taking several amendments throughout its lifetime, with it now encompassing several social insurances and social welfare programs, including Social Security benefits entitled to retired citizens.

For those who are interested in the estimation of their Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration has an online tool that allows workers to estimate their total benefits. The tool is best suited for workers, the elderly, and not for those who are currently receiving Social Security checks or are the beneficiaries of Medicare. This approximation tool can help those who are reaching retirement age and are looking to strategize.

Boosting Social Security Checks

Obtaining and securing your Social Security checks is complex. It’s essential that you do not take this decision lightly, as it can impact your golden years, post-retirement. Certain strategies can help maximize savings, and there are also many common pitfalls that some may fall for.

Note that each year that you defer your Social Security benefits past the typical retirement age, the benefits will increase roughly 8%, until the age of 70. This process is called “delayed retirement credits.” In the case of a spousal death, the surviving member can take their own benefit, or that of the deceased partner. So if there is a scenario where the breadwinner passes and claims early, then they have effectively shortchanged the benefits that will be allocated to the surviving member.

It’s important to maximize the Social Security benefits over both spouses’ lives. The File and Suspend strategy can help boost your Social Security checks. With this strategy, the breadwinner plans to delay the benefits until the age of 70. Once they are eligible to secure Social Security benefits — which is roughly around 66 years of age — they will go and suspend it. This way the benefit amount keeps increasing thanks to delayed retirement credits. But since he made the initial claim to start the benefits, the spouse that is currently in the retirement age can register a “restricted” application to declare spousal benefits. Spousal benefits are up to 50% of the other spouse’s monthly benefit. When enacted correctly, the File and Suspend strategy can help a couple secure an additional $60,000.

When the breadwinner reaches the full retirement age, they can inform the Social Security that rather than registering for benefits, they would like to restrict his benefits to his wife’s record. If there’s a change of heart, the breadwinner can switch over to their own benefit anytime. That couple could receive an additional $42,000 from the breadwinner actually claiming spousal benefits. It’s important to note that if you are going to use this strategy to boost Social Security checks and associated benefits, that the partner who registers a restricted application must be in retirement age — they cannot do so earlier in their working years.

Strategic planning and avoiding to claim benefits early can help extend its service to you during your golden years. Social Security aspects are coming from a limited pool, and strategic planning has become something only savvy retirees have done, to something that has become a necessity.

Sleep Apnea Linked To Alzheimer’s Disease

Tired man in bedSleep Apnea

A number of studies have found a link between sleep apnea, and the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Sleep apnea is a common disorder characterized by breathing problems during the sleep cycle. Those who have sleep apnea experience an airway collapse during sleep that will often awake the sufferer. Persons with this condition are therefore likely to suffer from disturbed sleeping patterns, lack of sleep, and poor sleep quality.

Sleep apnea occurrs in around 34% of men and 17% of women in the country. However, medical specialists say that the number could be higher, since a majority of cases of sleep apnea remain undiagnosed.

The Link to Alzheimer’s

At least three studies conducted in Wheaton College in Illinois all found significant links between breathing disorders like sleep apnea and the presence of biomarkers linked to Alzheimer’s.

These studies have shown that adults, especially senior citizens with sleep apnea, exhibit higher levels of amyloid beta which is the primary component of the amyloid plaque that characterize Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study published in the American Journal revealed that older people with obstructive sleep apnea have higher levels of amyloid beta. Dr. Richard S. Ororio, senior author of the study, said that sleep disturbances encourage the buildup of amyloid deposits and hasten cognitive decline among older patients and people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. However, the determination of the specific cause is hard to prove, since both conditions arise out of similar risk factors and can also be found in the same patient.

Study Details

The study looked into the association between the severity of sleep apnea and changes in Alzheimer’s markers or whether the amyloid deposits increased over time in elderly patients with sleep apnea. It covered 208 participants from 55 to 90 year old. All participants had normal cognition according to the results of standardized tests and evaluations. None of them had related medical conditions such as depression or any cognitive disorder.

Amyloid beta measurements were taken through lumbar puncture samples subjected to positron emission tomography to measure the levels of amyloid beta in each participant.

Results of the Study

The results showed that those who experienced more incidence of sleep apnea through their normal sleeping periods have increased levels of amyloid beta. This finding was confirmed by PET scans. This could be supported by past research that show how the brain clears up deposits of amyloid plaque during deep sleep. Sleep disruption due to sleep apnea may impede this process, contributing to the buildup of plaque in the brain. According to Dr. Ronald Peterson of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, recent research has shown that people who were repeatedly jolted awake during the night showed rapid increases in amyloid levels. People who experienced sleep disruptions for several weeks also displayed increased levels of tau protein tangles, another market for Alzheimer’s disease.

Onset of Cognitive Impairment

While studies show a link between sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s, researchers have not yet found a direct relationships between the severity of sleep apnea and the onset of cognitive impairment in patients. One theory that could explain this is that changes in amyloid levels occur in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s.

How To Interview An Estate Planning Attorney

An attorney writes in a law bookWith the help of a qualified estate planning attorney, you can make wise decisions in passing on your assets to those you love. Finding the right attorney is key to getting the professional estate planning services you need. You may need to interview various prospects to find the right candidate for the job.

Here are a few questions you can ask a potential estate planning attorney to determine if he or she is right for you.

1. Is estate planning your primary focus?

If your estate is expansive or complicated, you’ll want an attorney whose primary focus is estate planning, as he or she will have more experience in this field. When talking to an attorney, ask for a brief synopsis of his or her background and expertise. If possible, ask your attorney to provide referrals of former clients to see how they rate the attorney’s professional standard, services and work ethic.

2. Will you send me documentation to study and review?

If you’re like most people, you probably have little experience with wills, trusts and other legal documents pertaining to estate planning. As such, you may need time to review documents after they’re prepared to make sure they accurately represent your interests. A good attorney will respect your wishes and do all he or she can to ensure you’re comfortable and happy with his or her work.

3. Will you provide assistance with funding a revocable living trust?

Living trusts make it easier to pass on assets to beneficiaries without going through probate. With a revocable living trust, you can continue to benefit from your assets while you’re alive and have them transferred to your beneficiary upon your demise.

In order for these assets to be transferred properly, they need to be funded. By hiring an attorney who provides assistance with funding, you can have greater confidence that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after your demise. Your attorney may charge more for this service, but it will eliminate problems in settling your estate once you are gone.

4. Do you have an official updating and maintenance program?

Some estate planning attorneys are more thorough in their job than others. In addition to drafting your legal documents, they will provide annual or semiannual reviews of your documents to see if modifications are needed to accommodate changes in estate planning laws or your personal situation. Updating and maintenance services may cost a little extra but they will ensure your estate is in order upon your demise.

5. What kind of costs are involved?

It’s important that you discuss the cost of legal services up front so you can plan accordingly. Some attorneys charge a flat fee while others charge by the hour. If your attorney charges a flat fee, be sure to get a written account of what services this fee covers to avoid being hit with hidden fees and costs for “additional services” later down the line.

Some attorneys convert their flat fees into hourly rates once basic services have been completed. This could substantially increase attorney costs. When contracting an estate planning attorney, ask your attorney to specify all services that will be provided in writing along with their respective fees and costs.

Last, but not least, ask yourself if you feel comfortable working with the individual you’re considering hiring. Keep in mind you’ll be sharing confidential details about your life, finances and personal assets with the attorney you choose. By selecting an attorney you can establish a rapport with and trust, you will have greater peace that your estate will be in good hands.

If you are looking for an estate planning attorney in Orange County, Corona, or Newport Beach call OC Elder Law today to set up a consultation. (714) 525-4600