Why Social Security Is So Complicated (And How You Can Make It Simpler)

Social Security plays a vital role in giving millions of retirees the money they need to pay their living expenses. But the program is so complicated that many fear they'll make a key mistake that will hurt their financial prospects for the rest of their lives.

In the following segment from their video guide to investment planning, Motley Fool director of investment planning Dan Caplinger talks with Fool markets/IP bureau chief Mike Klesta about the complexities of Social Security and how to get to the root of the problem with the program. Dan notes that even single retirees have to weigh complex decisions about when to take benefits and how much they'll receive, forcing them to guess at their life expectancies in order to make rational choices. For those with families, the interplay of spousal and survivors' benefits makes Social Security even more complicated. But the key to keeping Social Security simple is to have other assets at your disposal to help supplement your monthly benefits. That way, you'll have the flexibility to consider beneficial strategies that others can't afford to use.

Make Social Security easy to understand
We know Social Security's complicated. That's why we wrote our free report, "Make Social Security Work Harder for You," in which our retirement experts give their insight on making the key decisions that will help ensure a more comfortable retirement for you and your family. Click here to get your copy today.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (1)

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  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 2:00 PM, JohanStrauss wrote:

    Why make it harder than it has to be? I'm retiring at 62 and 2 months. I've been squirreling away cash each month, and when it's time, I'm heading east to live with my girl. She's got 30 years before she retires. I'd rather get 73% for ten years that 100% for three or four.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 5:15 PM, bsteaves wrote:

    Why is the Social Security and Medicare web site so complicated?

    You have to have a USA IP number to be allowed access. This shuts out tens of thousands of Americans living overseas.

    believe me, the IRS and Obama care web site are open internationally, but even my congressman's web site has IP restrictions.

    Bob in Korea

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 12:50 AM, JePonce wrote:

    The simplest thing would be not to steal it from us in the first place.

    Since 1964, the government has taken in over $5 trillion than they spent on retiree benefits, transferred it to the general fund and spent every dime.

    It is because of this graft and corruption that Social Security will have to be cut, retirement age increased, and an Obama death panel to cut medicare costs.

    Government spent $584 billion on 58 million SS retirees in 2012. It would be interesting to know how many government pensioners share the $1.1 trillion local, state and federal governments spent in 2012. I bet it is half of the number of ss retirees who contribute to their own retirement.

    Government views us as meal tickets, but when we turn 65 we are a cost burden to be eliminated.

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Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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