How To Get Smarter About Social Security With Devin Carroll

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[132] – Did you know that Social Security benefits were initially intended to be a safety net for those who had not saved enough for retirement rather than a primary source of income? It wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s that Social Security became a major component of retirement planning for many Americans.

In this episode, Jeremy Keil speaks with financial advisor, Social Security educator, and Big Picture Retirement podcast host Devin Carroll about how you can get smarter about Social Security. Devin shares his thoughts about some needed Social Security updates and explains how to file for and get the best out of your Social Security by gathering all the factors and balancing them out instead of solving for one particular thing.

Devin discusses:

  • Why Social Security needs to be updated soon, and what changes he hopes to see
  • The pros and cons of Social Security calculators and how the addition of a longevity calculator can improve the accuracy of your results
  • The importance of calculating your joint longevity when couples make decisions around Social Security
  • How Social Security can help smooth the retirement ride and give a better experience
  • And more

How To Get Smarter About Social Security

Social Security benefits have been a crucial component of retirement planning for Americans for decades. However, many people don’t fully understand how Social Security works or how to get the most out of their benefits. In this post, we’ll explore some key insights from a financial advisor and Social Security educator about how to get smarter about Social Security.

Why We Need Social Security Updates

One of the main topics covered in this discussion is the need for updates to the Social Security system. As the population ages and people live longer, Social Security will face increasing financial strain.

We need updated policies to strengthen the Social Security system and ensure its longevity. Devin Carroll suggests we will eventually see changes including increasing the full retirement age, raising the cap on taxable earnings, and adjusting the cost-of-living adjustment formula.

Should I Use A Social Security Calculator?

Social Security calculators are a popular tool for individuals and couples to estimate their benefits. However, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of using these tools.

There are benefits of using Social Security calculators, such as being able to estimate your retirement benefits and explore different claiming strategies. However, these calculators can have limitations and may not be fully accurate. 

A common mistake people make when planning for retirement is relying too heavily on online calculators. It’s important to remember that these calculators don’t take into account tax consequences or unexpected issues like early withdrawals. Sometimes, they can even be misleading; a slight change in life expectancy could entirely flip a recommended strategy. Instead, consider the big picture and how different elements like Social Security, investments, and taxes will work together to maximize your chances of a successful retirement.

Since the biggest factor in your Social Security decision is how long you’ll be getting the payments, we recommend using a longevity calculator, such as in addition to a Social Security calculator to get a more accurate estimate of your retirement income needs.

The Importance of Joint Longevity in Social Security Decisions

For married couples, Social Security decisions can have a significant impact on their retirement income. It’s important for couples to consider their joint longevity when making Social Security decisions. It’s not just about you, but the both of you, and especially the widow.

We emphasize the importance of calculating joint life expectancy when deciding when to claim Social Security benefits. You can do this with a longevity calculator like the one we mentioned above.

The decision of when to claim benefits should be based on the couple’s overall retirement income plan rather than just the individual’s needs.

Why Should I Take Social Security Earlier Than Expected?

Social Security benefits can be an important source of retirement income and can help to smooth out the bumps in the road that retirees may face.

Social Security can help to provide a more stable retirement income, especially when financial challenges pop up down the road.

You will likely feel more comfortable spending your Social Security Income because you know it shows up every month, and taking that income doesn’t reduce your investment or bank account balances.

And remember, financial decisions such as taking Social Security are as much of an emotional decision as it is a financial one, so what looks perfect on paper might not be the right decision for you.

Why Should I Take Social Security Later Than Expected?  

What are two of the top worries retirees have with their money? Running out of it and not keeping up with inflation. 

Social Security is probably the only income source you have that is guaranteed not to run out AND grows with inflation every year. Wouldn’t you want more of that? If so, the best way to get more income that grows with inflation and lasts the rest of your life is to wait on filing for Social Security and letting it grow at roughly 8 %/year.  

This is especially important for the higher Social Security benefit in a couple as it’s the higher benefit that sticks around the longest and is the one paying the widow(er) for the rest of his or her life.

Our Final Thoughts

In conclusion, getting smarter about Social Security is an important part of retirement planning. 

By understanding the need for updates to the system, the pros and cons of Social Security calculators, the importance of joint longevity, and the benefits of Social Security as a retirement income source, individuals and couples can make more informed decisions about their retirement plans.

With the right knowledge and tools, you can maximize your Social Security benefits and enjoy a more secure retirement.


To learn more about Social Security, check out the resources below!

If you have any questions, please contact us or our guest, Devin Carroll, using the contact information provided below!


Connect With Devin Carroll:

Connect With Jeremy Keil:

About Our Guest:

Devin Carroll is a financial planner with over 18 years of experience, and founder of Carroll Advisory Group. While many know him as a Social Security expert, he believes he’s still just a student of the topic. Devin loves sharing his learnings through his Social Security Intelligence blog and YouTube channel. When he’s not busy, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his family and finding any excuse to hop on his tractor.



Results and figures presented within the above links are hypothetical, unaudited and are intended for illustrative purposes only.


Keil Financial Partners assumes no liability or responsibility for any errors, omissions, or other issues with the links and their respective contents. This includes both the website content and any potential bugs, viruses or other technical threats.

No Tax Advice

Keil Financial Partners does not provide any tax advice. No information or results from the links should be interpreted as tax advice. Please seek guidance from a qualified tax professional for any and all tax-related matters.

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The content and information provided through the links should not be interpreted as being investment advice or a recommendation of suitability for any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy, or related decision. Please seek assistance from a qualified investment professional for any and all investment matters.

Investment Risk

Investments may increase or decrease significantly. All investments are subject to risk of loss.

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Advisory Persons of Thrivent provide advisory services under a “doing business as” name or may have their own legal business entities. However, advisory services are engaged exclusively through Thrivent Advisor Network, LLC, a registered investment adviser. Keil Financial Partners and Thrivent Advisor Network, LLC are not affiliated companies. Please visit our website for important disclosures.


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