What has 80 years of Social Security taught us?

Presented by Leonard Berthelsen

Looking back on the eighty years since the creation of Social Security, the idea of retirement has changed for many of us, and in some respects, not changed anything at all for others. Understanding that in 1935 when Social Security was established, there weren’t many opportunities for workers to save for the future. Our nation was coming off the worst financial disaster in history just six years earlier and was still struggling to get people back to work and recreate faith and trust in the financial markets and the government. Now here is a president who wants people to save for the future (retirement) when folks were still struggling to put food on the table and pay for basic necessities, a bold move for any elected official. It may have been prudent back then to hold the position of waiting for the economy to improve and more folks were working. However, President Franklin D. Roosevelt saw this as an opportunity to provide some minimum protection and savings for the average American worker when they did want to retire because he knew America was on the verge of enormous growth and prosperity.

The average American worker lived to be about 65 in 1935, so when you look at how the program was built it seemed to make actuarial sense. Now we see the average individual living well into their 70’s, 80’s and beyond. It’s no wonder there’s endless pressure on the system. In addition, baby boomers are retiring en masse. We have a system that hasn’t kept pace with the realities of economic changes. And we have a political environment that for over 50 years hasn’t wanted to address the real need for change to the formula or make the tough decision to increase taxes. Seems to be really negative, right? Not so fast.

As I watched my grandparents retire and rely on Social Security as their full source of retirement income and then my parents, it became clear early on that it did make a difference for them and it made their quality of life better. It was a simpler time back then. They stayed in the home they bought early in their marriage through those retirement years. No mortgage payments after retirement. They did not live beyond their means and watched their expenses. They were able to take annual vacations and “splurge” every now and then on something special.

As pensions became popular with many companies in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s as a way of recruiting good, hard working loyal employees, Social Security quickly became viewed as a secondary source of income for these pensioners when they retired. This was a real game changer in the eyes of many Americans. For those who weren’t lucky enough to have a pension where they worked, they were left to fend for themselves and save for retirement. For the ones who didn’t save, at least Social Security was there.

We entered the era of pension elimination in many companies beginning in the 1970’s as a means of scaling back expenses for companies and eliminating the huge liability that kept many companies from expanding and growing due to their obligation on these pension plans. As the pensions slowly faded away, we were introduced to savings via the employer, with both the employer and employee contributing but the employee owning the savings plan, the 401(k) was born. The one thing through all of these changes that remained a staple was Social Security. It’s been there since 1935 providing retirement benefits to millions of American workers. For some it is their only means of financial independence; for others it simply supplements their income during retirement. Whatever group you fall into, Social Security does make a difference. This is a program that, 80 years later, is still delivering on its promises. I want to look at Social Security from the glass half-full perspective, because it is doing what it was designed to do.

As we age into the next two decades, certainly some things will need to change. It is being projected that in ten years from now, there will be only three to four workers supporting every one retiree. Technology replaces workers as it has done for decades. We have to be smart and sharp with our attitudes and our actions. I believe Social Security will be there for every working American that contributed the minimum requirement, and will continue to do it through their retirement years. Will the system change, probably? Will we agree or like all the changes, maybe, maybe not? I think the one constant will always be there and that constant is Social Security. President Roosevelt saw a future where American workers could live in retirement with dignity, without worry of where their next meal was coming from, but also recognizing that each individual needed to take personal ownership in how that retirement was going to be financed. Social Security can only do so much. We need to do the rest.

What Social Security Seminars can do for YOU – Part 2

Presented by Brian Leising

Let’s put our two problems (you need more clients, pre-retirees need professional help) together and come up with a plan to help both parties. How many of your clients nearing retirement know their optimal social security filing option? What if you could help them make sense of governmental red tape and demonstrate potential consequences? What if you could sell a lot more permanent life insurance and annuities by doing so? Your clients know they can file for social security when they get older but most people have no idea when it’s best to file, that different filing options exist, or realize the financial consequences of those options.

Producers all across the country are experiencing PHENOMENAL SUCCESS implementing Social Security Maximization Seminars. By hosting “no food” seminars at local libraries and community colleges, they are filling rooms with more prospects and at less cost than old-fashioned dinner seminars.

The numbers back this up. I interviewed several producers in the past year. Here’s the feedback. A seminar will put you in front of 60-80 people per week on average. One third will say thank you and you will never see them again. One third will request a free social security analysis and may give you another appointment down the road. One third will be interested in a full retirement planning analysis – from YOU! This opens up new multiple annuity, life insurance and long term care sales.

How do you get started? Familiarize yourself with the concept first. Financial Brokerage can provide materials to help you learn at your own pace, including written material, training videos, software and actual consumer workbooks. Armed with that knowledge, put it to the test. Call your clients that are approaching retirement but have not yet filed for social security. Target ages 55-62. Walk them through the process. Now you know more than 99% of the country. Pick a date and we’ll discuss how we can help you host your first Social Security Maximization Seminar.

What Social Security Seminars can do for YOU – Part 1

Presented by Brian Leising

Some things are better together, like peanut butter and jelly, nuts and bolts, I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials. I want to talk about two types of people that go better together: baby boomers nearing retirement age and insurance producers looking for new clients.

Do any of these problems apply to you? You have trouble seeing enough new people every year. You are tired of cold calling and the low response rate on your direct mail pieces. You are not internet-savvy enough to prospect via social media. You are not getting enough referrals. You are looking for new ways to get in front of qualified prospects to sell annuities, life insurance and long term care.

While there is no magic bullet to get in front of more people, this system may be close. Social Security seminars are driving new prospects in the door and here’s why: Every day 10,000 people turn 65 in the United States. Imagine the number of people closing in on that age, staring retirement in the face. There is a huge demand for knowledge regarding retirement income planning. People are wondering “how long will my money last?” Not all are getting the help they need. Big money managers don’t want to take the time to help the average Joe. The trouble is, America is mostly made up of average Joes.

Average Joe also has a deadline. He knows he has to make a decision on Social Security. Whether it’s the Federal government’s age-based deadline or his own desire to retire by a certain age, he has a deadline. People act when they have a deadline. Who’s going to help them? You are.

Check back next week to learn how.

High Deductible Survival Plan – Part Three

Presented by Brian Leising

In parts one and two, I explained how a basic term life policy with a critical illness provision could help your clients pay their health insurance deductibles in the event of a major illness. In this part, I will introduce methods and tools you can use to market this new term life policy to your existing clients.

Since we’re talking about your existing health insurance clients, you already know who your target audience will be and have their contact information. Why not stay in touch with your clients the old fashioned way, through the mail? Better yet, start using an e-mail campaign system.

The graphic design team at Financial Brokerage has developed a piece you can use with your clients to drive interest in this concept. We can work with you to have this same piece emailed to your clients on a regular basis.

If you are not taking advantage of social media to stay in touch with clients and find new ones, now is a great time to start. Posting helpful advice on your business Facebook page, Linked-in and Twitter accounts costs you absolutely nothing. If you are not familiar with these free online platforms, our Guide to using Social Media can help you get started.

All of these resources are available for agents contracted through Financial Brokerage. We can also provide access to the insurance carriers that currently offer critical illness benefits in your state. There is no reason to make your clients wait until they are dead to benefit from their term life insurance policy.