Financial advisors can help clients achieve their best strategies for claiming Social Security benefits through the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts, according to the creator of the organization and the Registered Social Security Advisor credential.

Michael Rosedale has designed the educational and software program to teach financial advisors and other financial professionals the ins and outs of the complicated Social Security system, Rosedale said in a recent interview.

Rosendale, a certified public accountant doing business as Rosedale & Associates based in Wantagh, N.Y., created the Registered Social Security Analyst certification to help advisors who want to build relationships with clients looking for ways to receive the most benefits possible from Social Security. The certification is recognized by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards

The five-course online program does not teach advisors all of the thousands of possible Social Security strategies; rather, it teaches them how to find the ideal strategy for each client’s situation and educates an advisor about how to approach the client, Rosedale said.

Once a candidate completes the course, he or she can take the exam to earn the Registered Social Security Analyst certification. Completing the course earns 8.5 continuing education credits for the CFP Board.

The goal of the organization is to provide advisors and other professionals with the education necessary to help their clients with Social Security issues and to have a certification process that shows their competence in the field, Rosedale said.

He added that the service can be billed by an advisor on a fee basis or presented as part of a package of services that can help create client loyalty. “This can help advisors build a specialty practice that can attract new clients and serve some of the millions of people reaching retirement age,” Rosedale said.

Some advisors are sending their clients to the Social Security Administration to get help when that is not the best way to find the optimum claiming strategy, he noted, adding that advisors need training in Social Security claiming strategies.

Maximizing The Maximum
“We married the software to the educational process,” Rosedale said about the creation of the RSSA designation. The National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts had been in beta mode for two years and has now officially launched. However, more than 2,000 financial professionals already have taken or are taking the course, he said. An outline of the course can be found here.

It's estimated only a small percentage of eligible Social Security recipients are maximizing their benefits. With 10,000 people a day reaching Social Security eligibility, and with more than 70 million baby boomers, the need for Social Security advice is unprecedented, Rosedale said.

Rosedale's organization provides the back office support for advisors, along with the reports for clients that explain their individual Social Security options. It also includes continuing education for those who hold the RSSA certificate. The association provides Social Security maximization software, branded RSSA marketing materials, invoicing and payment solutions, and tax and bookkeeping support services.

“The certification enables advisors to add value for their clients and the education can earn clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in Social Security benefits over a lifetime," Rosedale said. "This is a relationship enhancer. A lot of advisors do not know as much as they should about Social Security. We wanted to fill that gap.”