It affects your ability to maintain a certain lifestyle. It affects your surviving spouses ability to maintain a certain lifestyle. It affects your children’s ability to maintain a certain lifestyle.
It affects the taxes you pay…today and for decades to come.
It affects the taxes your surviving spouse will pay.
It affects the taxes your CHILDREN will pay if you plan on leaving any kind of inheritance.
It affects the premiums you pay on your Medicare Part B and Part D.
The more taxable income you have, the higher the Medicare Premiums you pay. And unfortunately, we’re not just talking a couple bucks here. We’re talking potential increases in Medicare premiums of 400%!
Lastly, when you take Social Security affects your mental health too. Being squeezed financially in retirement does wonders for your nerves. The thing with Social Security, and retirement planning in general, is there is NO DO OVER!
You can’t say in a few years, “Oh man, I made a huge mistake. Let’s go back and start again.” Doesn’t work like that.
Imperative to Get This Right!
Thus, it’s critically important to get this right. You must take the time to research your options, understand those options, identify the likelihood of where you’ll be financially in 5, 10, 20 years and beyond and then, and ONLY THEN, take action.
But taking action is not simply going on a website, entering some basic data and then VOILA!, out comes your benefit amount. Taking action means going into the office and actually talking to a professional and allowing them to run your numbers.
Things to Consider
Were you married for more than ten years and now are divorced?
Are you a widow?
How long were you married before your spouse died?
Do you have children under the age of 18?
Do you intend to work while receiving benefits?
What happens to your benefit when you die?
What happens to your benefit when your spouse dies?
What if you need to go into an Assisted Living Facility?
These are just some of the questions you need to ask, and have answered, when it comes to your Social Security decision.
Can you get these questions answered online, with some calculator? Maybe. Should you? NO! Seek professional assistance with the folks at your local office who do this daily. They know the ins and outs of the program more than you ever will by reading some information on a website.
Are ALL the pros at the Social Security office smart, knowledgeable and friendly? Of course not. In all environments there will be people who underwhelm you. Guess what? If you happen to deal with a representative who didn’t satisfy you, then find someone else. Go on a different day. Shoot, go to a different office
You OWN the Social Security Administration
This is YOUR benefit, paid for by YOUR taxes. This is YOUR Social Security Administration, paid for by YOUR taxes You employ these people. Absolutely nothing wrong with wanting the correct answers to an issue that will affect you for the rest of your life.
Oh, just as a reminder Social Security is an issue that has lived with you the entirety of your working career. Remember that line item on your paycheck called FICA? Yeah, that’s you and the Social Security Administration being friends. And you’ve been their friend since you started working, probably many, many years ago.
Put the SSA to Good Use
So, to close this up. I’ve been in financial planning for 20 years. The number one piece of advice I can give to anyone and everyone who is thinking of taking their Social Security benefits is to set an appointment with their local office.
I have yet to have any client of mine come back to me and say that appointment was a waste of time. In fact, just the opposite happens. I’ve had MULTIPLE clients get more benefits than they anticipated because of strategies the SSA rep explained to them that the client was unfamiliar with.
As a professional financial planner don’t I know of these strategies too? Yes…and no. I know general information, as do most, qualified financial planners. But no one, other than the folks at the SSA, and yourself, will know the specifics that affect you. Even the statement you get may not give the accurate information you need.
Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who understands the Government Pension Offset (GPO). What did their statement say in relation to the actual check they received???
Remember, This is YOUR Money at Stake
As a taxpaying American, this is YOUR money after all. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to leaving money on the table. Will you get more than you expect? I have no clue. But it’s certainly worth your time to go down there and talk with a representative to crunch your numbers. That’s what you’ve paid them to do for all these years you’ve worked and paying taxes.
Social Security Offices in Georgia
I’ve compiled a list of all the offices in Georgia based on the SSA website. I’ve listed these in alphabetic order, with the address, phone number for you to call directly to make an appointment as well as what seems to be the least busy times for that specific office. Clicking on the name of the office will take you to the Google Maps page where you can get specific directions to that office from your location.
Most Offices Closed Wednesday Afternoon
Please be advised, most, if not ALL, SSA offices are closed Wednesday afternoon. In fact, some, like one in Blue Ridge, are closed ALL DAY Wednesday.
So, I highly recommend you contact your specific office about their hours of operation instead of just driving up there and dropping in. In short, MAKE AN APPOINTMENT!
Most Offices Close at 4pm
Secondly, most, if not all, SSA offices open at 9am and close at 4pm. What I have found is the least busy time for almost all the offices here in Georgia is before 10am and after 3pm. Not all of the offices, mind you, but most.
So, just keep that in mind if you are scheduling an appointment or do need to just “drop in” for whatever reason.
Remember folks, the professionals working in these offices deal with ALL types of people with ALL types of needs. It’s like the DMV. Some ‘customers’ in there are just going to be as rude as can be.
Don’t let that be you. As easy as it can be to fall into disparaging government employees, please remember these are professionals and they are there to do a job for you. You DO need them to do it right by the way.
So, word of wisdom, be courteous, even if you have to wait. You have to wait at your doctor’s office even if you have an appointment don’t you? Would you yell and scream at your doctor or say snide remarks? I certainly hope not. After all, your doctor is examining your health which does affect your lifestyle.
Think your Social Security benefit is any different? As I said in the very first paragraph, Social Security will, not may but WILL, affect your lifestyle. So, logically, one would want to treat the person who is helping me with this lifestyle decision with the utmost respect and courtesy.
My Story at the Post Office
I will never forget one time standing in line at the Post Office in Alpharetta. It was a very busy day. Only two agents taking customers. And things were moving slowly.
Was it frustrating? Sure. But what can you do? It wasn’t like the agents were moving deliberately slowly. It’s just various issues that had to be dealt with.
Well, a crusty old man behind me began to mumble under his breath about why does he pay taxes for this and blah, blah, blah. Soon, his mumbling was no longer under his breath and was directed to the staff.
It became rather embarrassing. I mean, yeah, we did have to wait a bit, but not more than 15 minutes or so. Certainly, this guy wasn’t going to miss his early dinner.
I felt bad for those agents though. They are just doing their job. Can they be quicker? Probably. Is it that big a deal where you need to embarrass them though in front of people? No. Actually, the person who looked like the biggest idiot was that guy. I remember just looking at him and shaking my head. A wonderful person to live with he must be.
However, at the end of the day, I did wonder if his package mistakenly found itself in the wrong pile. Instead of being delivered to say Paris, Texas, it was sent to Paris, Maine. Who knows? Would the good folks at the Post Office deliberately do such a thing??? NO WAY! But mistakes DO happen.
The moral of this story. You NEED the people at the SSA. Just work with them and don’t give them a hard time. You always attract more bees with honey than vinegar.
List of Social Security Offices in Georgia:
Please inform me of updates, changes I should make, etc. I’m happy to gather that info.
Address: 1522 W 3rd Ave, Albany, GA 31707
Phone: (877) 319-0733
Best times to go: Monday, Tuesday and Friday after 3pm
Address: 1650 Prince Ave, Athens, GA 30606
Best Times To Go: Monday and Tuesday after 3pm
Address: 401 W Peachtree St NW Suite 2860, Atlanta, GA 30308
Best Times To Go: Any day after 3pm
Address: 2400, 3800 Camp Creek Pkwy #122, Atlanta, GA 30331
Best Times To Go: Monday and Tuesday after 3pm
Address: 115 Robert C Daniel Jr Pkwy, Augusta, GA 30909
Best Times To Go: Friday afternoons
Address: 171 Church St, Blue Ridge, GA 30513
Best Times To Go: Unavailable on line.
NOTES*** Closed ALL day Wednesday
one commentator said “hard to find parking…”
Address: 134 Juniper Ct, Brunswick, GA 31520
Best Times To Go:
Address: 7263 N Lake Dr, Columbus, GA 31909
Address: 510 15th Ave E, Cordele, GA 31015
Best Times To Go: Friday afternoons
Address: 9180 Covington by Pass Rd, Covington, GA 30014
Best Times To Go: Monday after 3pm
Address: 301 Point N Pl, Dalton, GA 30720
Best Times To Go: Afternoons after 3pm
Address: 3554 Covington Hwy, Decatur, GA 30032
Best Time To Go: Monday after 3pm
Address: 919 Hillcrest Pkwy, Dublin, GA 31021
Best Time To Go: Mon, Tues and Fri after 3pm
Address: 2565 Thompson Bridge Rd #210, Gainesville, GA 30501
Best Times To Go: Anytime after 3pm
Address: 1548 Flynt St, Griffin, GA 30223
Best Times To Go: Tuesday morning and Friday afternoon
Address: 1300 Lafayette Pkwy, LaGrange, GA 30241
Best Times To Go: Monday morning, Tuesday afternoon
Address: 3530 Riverside Dr, Macon, GA 31210
Best Times To Go:
Address: 109 Cypress Corners Dr, Milledgeville, GA 31061
Address: 6670 Merchants Way, Morrow, GA 30260
Best Times To Go: Mondays and Fridays after 3pm
Address: 246 Bullsboro Dr B, Newnan, GA 30263
Best Times To Go: Monday afternoon
Address: 4365 Shackleford Rd, Norcross, GA 30093
Phone: (800) 772-1213
Best Time To Go: Friday afternoons
Address: 480 Riverside Pkwy NE, Rome, GA 30161
Best Time To Go: Mondays after 2pm
Address: 430 Mall Blvd #1, Savannah, GA 31406
Best Times to Go: Monday and Friday afternoons
Address: 1050 Brannen St, Statesboro, GA 30461
Best Time To Go: Monday and Friday afternoon
Address: 1916 Smith Ave, Thomasville, GA 31792
Best Times To Go: Monday and Friday afternoon
Address: 732 2nd St W, Tifton, GA 31794
Best Times To Go: Any day after 2pm
Address: 155 Big A Rd, Toccoa, GA 30577
Best Time To Go: Mondays and Fridays after 3pm
Address: 3149 Perimeter Park Ln, Valdosta, GA 31602
Best Time To Go: Mondays after 2pm and Friday afternoon
Address: 104 W 3rd St, Vidalia, GA 30474
Best Times To Go: Tuesday’s and Friday’s after 2
Address: 220 Carl Vinson Pkwy, Warner Robins, GA 31088
Best Times To Go: Tuesdays Noon-2pm
Address: 303 Isabella St, Waycross, GA 31501
Best Time To Go: Thursday and Friday afternoons
Address: 389 E Broad St, Winder, GA 30680
Best times to go: Thursday morning and Friday after 3