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2019 Social Security Survey Results

2019 Social Security Survey Results

The American College of Financial Services
August 20, 2019

The future of the Social Security system in the United States is a pressing concern for retirees and anyone who is planning for retirement. 

To provide you with a better understanding of the issue, The American College of Financial Services surveyed 245 financial advisors with the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation and asked how the financial future of Social Security affects their clients. 

2019 Social Security Survey Findings

Two thirds (67%) of RICP-holding financial advisors with older clients say their clients are moderately worried that the Social Security program will drastically cut benefits in the future.

Nearly half of financial advisors (46%) are worried about the Social Security program drastically cutting their older clients’ benefits.

Yet more than half (54%) of financial advisors say they are not worried about the Social Security program drastically cutting their older clients’ benefits in the future.

More than 8 in 10 (84%) of RICP-holding financial advisors with older clients say cutting Social Security benefits by 20% today would drastically alter their clients’ lifestyles.

From these findings, it's clear that the majority of financial advisors surveyed believe there will be a change in the Social Security program for their older clients. That being said, “This survey reveals an important opportunity for advisors to work with their clients" states Steve Parrish, co-director of The American College New York Life Center for Retirement Income. In response to the varying survey results, Parrish went on to say:

Opinions vary greatly among both consumers and their advisors, but the responses tell us two things.  First, Social Security is a very important benefit for older clients and second, there is concern about what will happen if the Social Security program experiences cuts. These concerns indicate that advisors need to monitor the political landscape to ascertain whether Social Security benefits may be reduced in the future, and they need to work with their clients now to have plans in case cuts indeed occur.

The American College's new assistant professor of retirement planning and assistant director of The American College New York Life Center for Retirement Income, Colin Slabach, wrote about Social Security still being a good investment for retirees: "This survey reveals that RICP® advisors believe that Social Security is still a good investment. On average 81% of advisors’ clients are taking Social Security after age 65 with only 9% of their clients taking it at the earliest age. This is drastically different from the national average with 35% of men and 40% of women claiming their benefits at the age of 62. Only some advisors and consumers are concerned as to whether Social Security would cut benefits, however, most advisors (84%) agree that even a cut of 20% in Social Security benefits would drastically alter their client’s lifestyle." 

Survey reveals an important opportunity for advisors to work with their clients

Whenever there is a need but little understanding, education is an important solution. The 2019 Social Security Survey underscores that both financial advisors and consumers can benefit from learning more about Social Security and how it can enhance a consumer’s retirement plan.

The American College New York Life Center for Retirement Income is a great starting point for this information, and the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation can be instrumental for advisors who seek to help consumers. With the RICP®, you will be better positioned to help your clients generate secure and sustainable income in retirement. To learn more about the three-course RICP® designation program, visit us here: www.TheAmericanCollege.edu/RICP.