Editor's Note: This article is part of the Financial Advisor series "How I Solved It." Advisors describe a client with a problem and what they did to help.

Social Security is a mainstay of most retirement plans, but it is also complex and presents a near-retiree individual or couple with numerous options.

James Loftin, CFP, and CEO and co-owner of GerLoftin Wealth Advisors LLC based in North Atlanta, said he helped a client couple obtain more than $60,000 in lifetime income from Social Security and helped them realize their retirement dreams, while he also cemented his relationship with them.

Loftin, who has been in the financial industry for two decades and now heads GerLoftin Wealth Advisors, a hybrid RIA based on Christian principles with $148 million in assets under management and clients across the United States and in several other countries, said he has developed some expertise in dealing with Social Security issues with the help of LifeYield, a technology software company based in Boston that works with advisors to help maximize clients’ retirement income.

About a year ago, a couple he was advising came to him with Social Security questions. The husband wanted to retire before age 70, when his benefits would supposedly be at their highest, and he and his wife wanted to travel in the United States. They talked to different people at the Social Security Administration and, as sometimes happens, they got two different answers about their optimum strategy, Loftin said.

In this case, the husband had worked for a telecommunications company and the wife was employed by a local school system. Loftin had worked with them for about 15 years and also had worked with the husband’s father.

By reaching out to a third party, as well as researching the situation himself, he was able to determine the husband did not have to wait until 70 years of age to realize the couple’s retirement goals. Based on the husband’s and wife’s predicted longevity, it was determined the husband could retire at age 68. Combining that prediction with a tax efficient strategy for drawing down assets from other savings and investments, the couple would end up receiving $60,000 more over their lifetimes than what the Social Security had calculated, Loftin said.

Loftin said he and the clients went back to the Social Security Administration with the calculations he had generated and selected a scenario that allowed the husband to retire at 68 and the wife at 66.

When determining their plan, Loftin said, he also calculated their annual and monthly cash flow. “If an advisor misses the cash flow options, he or she is missing another opportunity to help the client,” he said.

“That was about a year ago and they are now traveling the United States as much as they can with some constraints imposed by Covid-19,” Loftin said. “I’ve talked with them twice recently. They experienced a dip of about 40% in their investments in February and March, but since the March 23rd lows they are now after the recovery up above their February highs.”

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