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Social Security: Tell clients to take a deep breath

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Shomari Hearn often tells his clients the maxim that most advisers know by heart: “Never rely exclusively on Social Security income.”

During the same conversations, he also frequently discusses clients’ concerns about the stability of the Social Security system.
These worries aren’t surprising. In almost every Congress during the past decade lawmakers have introduced numerous proposals to resolve the system’s potential future solvency issues by raising the age for retirement eligibility, even though more than 50% of Americans surveyed reject such changes.

“There is no question that there are questions about the long-term viability of the Social Security program,” says Hearn, a CFP and vice president, chief compliance officer and portfolio manager at Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “So, we work with clients.”

For Hearn and other veteran advisers, that “work” means helping clients talk through what might change with Social Security.

In preparation for such discussions, Sheryl Rowling, principal of Rowling & Associates in San Diego, keeps a list handy of perhaps unwelcome but nonetheless possible reforms to the Social Security system.

“I believe, like most people, that there will be changes,” she says.

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