Walter L. Woodrick

Optimizing your Social Security benefits

The number of interesting, talented, intelligent, and aging (notice I didn’t say “aged”) people who currently live in Gulf and Franklin counties is quite remarkable. And that number is increasing, literally, on a daily basis. I was asked by one of my pickleball friends to address, “When to start taking Social Security.” Within my word count and space restrictions, here goes:

In a nutshell, the best way to optimize Social Security benefits is to know how old you will be at your death. I say that mostly tongue-in-cheek, but with today’s statistical analysis that can evaluate your current age, health conditions, medications, past procedures, daily habits, activity levels, and family longevity, one can probably get pretty close to an estimated age at death. One website told me that I should live to be 92 and that if I drank a little alcohol every day that I could lengthen my life by two years. I am praying for a healthy 92 years!

I pay a pretty hefty monthly fee for a financial planning software package that helps me prepare up to 700 “Optimal Social Security Strategy” scenarios based upon life expectancy, earnings estimates from Social Security or current benefits, marital status, other income, income tax rates, and other details. I would be happy to prepare one for you at no charge.

If you are already receiving benefits, this same software package can help chart out your financial future. It is a valuable tool that I appreciate and utilize on a daily basis. Knowing that not much, if anything, is guaranteed, people appreciate the peace of mind that such a thorough evaluation of current assets, income, liabilities, income tax rates, life expectancies, investment risk level, and statistical probabilities provides them.

There is a great deal of talk about the long-term viability of the Social Security program. It was created at a time when people didn’t live very long after they retired – maybe five years at most. But, with people living 20-30 years after starting to receive benefits, the people currently paying into the system are basically funding the shortfall for the people who are depleting the system. It is estimated the system will be out of money sometime in the 2030s. We will see what our government does to help shore up the system. They are discussing, among other things, increasing payroll taxes, the taxation earnings limit, or pulling money from other sources to fund the program, raising the retirement age again, and reducing future benefits.

While they are trying to shore things up, I would be happy to help you shape things up. Feel free to text me if you would like me to run some scenarios for you – code word “optimization.”

Gulf County resident Walter L. Woodrick is a Certified Financial Planner practitioner, and the author of two books. His website is You can text Walter at 850.724.1369. Securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. 561246-1

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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