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Social Security

Employee Benefit Pros Should Add Medicare and Social Security To Their Knowledge Arsenal - Part 2 (Social Security)


In Part I of this two-part series I discussed the importance of understanding Medicare program basics. In Part II, I will discuss how equally important it is for benefit pros to have a good understanding of the Social Security (SS) benefits program.

Unlike with Medicare employees generally don't think they need assistance understanding how Social Security works and when to apply for benefits. The reality is many workers know very little about the SS program. For example, a significant number think that the SS taxes they pay fund their specific benefits. And many do not know their SS full retirement age and that they receive a smaller benefit amount when they elect to receive benefits before normal retirement.

Employers play a large role in financing SS benefits. It is in their best interest to help workers get the maximum SS benefit so they retire when they want, not when they can.

Social Security 101 For Benefit Pros

The federal Social Security program is complicated. There are SS experts with decades of experience that don’t know everything there is to know about SS. No one expects employee benefit pros to know as much as a SS expert dedicated to the field, but the top benefit pros will have a complete understanding of these five basic SS features.
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Employee Benefit Pros Should Add Medicare and Social Security To Their Knowledge Arsenal - Part 1 (Medicare)


Many employee benefit professionals working in the private sector know little about the federal Medicare and Social Security (SS) programs. This is probably true of public sector and not-for-profit pros too... And that's unfortunate because employees have a lot of questions about both programs. They see deductions from their pay for these programs and assume HR can provide answers to their Medicare and SS questions. They quickly learn that they are on their own in navigating these benefit programs that seem an extension of what their employer currently provides.

Of course it is not the employer's job to counsel employees on their Medicare and SS options but why not help provide a basic understanding of the programs. If the concern is legal liability, don't give advice. If the concern is fear of providing the wrong information, make sure you know what you are talking about before you open your mouth and always include a verbal or written disclaimer. And if the concern is that Medicare and SS benefits are not your area of expertise, don't claim that it is and study up.

Medicare 101 For Benefit Pros

Benefit pros don't need to know everything about Medicare, but they should have a very good understanding of these five basic Medicare features.
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