Advisers Need to Step Up Senior Benefits Game

Only 36% of advisers provide guidance on Social Security, Senior Market Sales says.

Many financial planners do not think investors need a strategy when it comes to Social Security and Medicare, according to “The New Foundation of Retirement Planning: Social Security and Medicare,” a new white paper from Senior Market Sales (SMS).

However, multiple surveys have shown that more than half of investors expect their advisers to give “specialized advice on how to maximize Social Security and incorporate health care costs, including long-term care, in their retirement plans,” the report says. Currently, only 36% of advisers offer advice on Social Security and a mere 13% of advisers provide health care advice. “This presents a major opportunity for advisers and firms that do offer this specialized advice to differentiate themselves and gain market share,” SMS says.

An average healthy couple retiring in 2015 will need $366,600 to cover their health care costs in retirement, SMS says. In 10 years, 98% of an average couple’s Social Security benefit will be needed to cover health care costs, and in 20 years, health care costs will exceed the average Social Security payment. It is no wonder that 63% of people over the age of 50 say their top retirement financial worry is health care costs.

Many people think Medicare will cover all their health care costs, but the reality is that it only covers 62%, with private insurance covering 15% and individuals responsible for 13%. With health care expenses continuing to grow and the number of retirees also rising, people are going to be responsible for a greater percentage of the costs, SMS says.

Social Security currently pays a couple an average of $556,000 in lifetime benefits, SMS says. “If half a million dollars is not enough to convince today’s financial adviser that Social Security deserves a seat at the table, then Social Security’s role in the context of Medicare should,” the insurance marketing firm says. Nearly three in four Americans say Social Security is their top source of expected retirement income for out-of-pocket health care costs, according to Nationwide Financial Retirement Institute.

Advisers should become conversant with the Social Security and Medicare health plan choices people have, SMS says. “Financial advisers must be able to provide highly specialized advice and a range of services—and if the requisite experts aren’t in their own officers, they’ll need to team up with allied professionals,” the white paper says.

Advisers can register with Senior Market Sales to download the white paper here.