(Dow Jones) Even high-net-worth investors are turning more often to their financial advisors for help with a benefit generally associated with the less affluent: Social Security.

Some of the increased interest stems from fears that Social Security payments could be curbed for retirees with higher incomes, a prospect that raises questions about when someone should decide to apply for benefits. That concern aside, Social Security still represents an important asset even for the wealthy.

"This is money they've paid into the system, and they want to make sure that they're making the right decisions," says Connie Nichols, Vice President, Value Add in Retirement and Estate Planning at BlackRock Inc.

In line with a trend in wealth management toward focusing more on retirement income, BlackRock is providing professional training and a Web site on issues regarding Social Security benefits and when best to take them.

Cheryl R. Holland, a financial advisor at Abacus Planning Group, Inc. in Columbia, S.C., says the decision is important for all her clients, who typically have at least $2 million in investable assets. On occasion advisors from her firm have gone with clients to the Social Security office, she says.

"If a client will receive $2,500 per month, adjusted annually for inflation, of Social Security benefits that benefit equates to having $500,000 and $750,000 of liquid assets," she says. "Even a client with a net worth of $50 million wants to make wise decisions about a $500,000 investment."

Deciding when to start taking benefits involves unknowns. "You don't know when you will die and you don't know when your spouse will die," Holland notes. People in poor health often are advised to take the retirement benefit as soon as age 62 to maximize how much they receive in their lifetime. Those who hold off, however, receive a monthly payment that is 7% to 8% higher for each year they wait. If someone waits until 70 rather than 62, the benefit is at least 76% higher.

Waiting also can reduce the taxes paid on the benefit, says Mel Schwarz, a partner at Grant Thornton LLP. Up to 85% of the benefit could be taxed as income.

Richard Rosso, a financial advisor with Charles Schwab Corp. in Houston, says in the past his clients often wanted to take Social Security early because of an assumption they would not live long. Now, however, many want it early because they're afraid the benefit will disappear or decrease.

"They think something is better than nothing, as opposed to taking the risk of waiting three, four, five years," he says.

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