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The Social Security Dilemma – When to Start Looking For Ways to Increase Lifetime Benefits?



Social Security offers one of the best forms of retirement income – a tax-favored income source that lasts for the entire lifetime of a beneficiary with inflation protection and survivor benefits.

For most individuals, benefits provide about 30% to 35% of pre-retirement income. In an uncertain world with fewer covered by pensions, 401(k) balances that have dwindled and possibly less earned income because of forced early retirement and layoffs, the option to collect on Social Security as early as possible is an attractive one.

Often individuals will ask when is the optimal time to begin taking benefits. Many apply for benefits as soon as they are eligible at age 62. The average age when people start collecting is just over 63 1/2.

Social Security benefits are based on lifetime earnings. Actual wages are adjusted to account for inflation. And then average monthly earnings during the highest earning quarters over the previous 35 years are used to determine a basic benefit or “primary insurance amount” referred to as the PIA.

The PIA determines how much you receive at full retirement age – 65 or older depending on an individual’s date of birth. If one chooses to collect benefits before the full retirement age, the monthly benefit is reduced by about 6.7% per year. For someone with a full retirement age of 66 who retires at 62, he or she can expect to receive only 75% of the total benefit. On the other hand, someone who delays receiving benefits accrues credit. So waiting to age 70 can result in monthly payments that are 32% higher or 8% per year for the four year delay in this example.

A number of factors will influence this personal decision. In general, the longer one can hold off on collecting, then the higher the monthly benefit one will be eligible to receive. Since women tend to outlive men, women may benefit most from the higher payments later. So if a single woman can afford to meet lifestyle needs from other sources, then delaying is a reasonable option. For single men or women, family longevity and personal medical history may be the deciding factors.

For those who are married, benefits are based on each spouse’s income record. For spouses who do not have their own income record, the benefit is based on 50% of the working spouse’s. Spousal survivor benefits are equal to the monthly benefit of the higher earning deceased spouse. By delaying, one’s spouse will be eligible for a potentially higher benefit.

Two little-known strategies can actually increase benefits to recipients.

Claim and Suspend:

This option resulted from the Senior Citizens’ Freedom to Work Act of 2000 and provides a recipient an option to change one’s mind. This is ideal for those who are eligible to start collecting but have determined that the full benefit is not needed now.

This strategy offers three ways to add to the personal bottom-line for a worker who has attained Full Retirement Age (FRA): o Sign up for Social Security and allow a spouse to claim a spousal benefit now. o Suspend receipt of benefits by the worker who can now continue to work and accrue delayed retirement credits. By delaying receipt by the worker, the amount this worker will be eligible to collect each month continues to grow 8% per year until age 70. o If a recipient using this strategy dies, the higher accrued benefit passes on to the surviving spouse.

Claim now, Claim more later:

This option works best for married couples who each have their own work record and have reached the respective Full Retirement Age of each recipient.

In this option, a worker can claim a benefit based on 50% of a spouse’s PIA while continuing to work and accrue delayed retirement benefits at 8% per year on the worker’s own record – ideally until age 70. Later the spouse can switch from a spousal benefit to claiming a benefit on their own work record presumably if it is larger.


Deciding to delay benefits really pays when a beneficiary lives long enough to maximize the benefit – either equal to or longer than the actuarial age. For those who are age 65, life expectancy is about 19 years more on average or to age 84 – a little more for women and a little less for men.

For women who survive to an advanced age, a higher earning spouse who holds off on receiving benefits can mean the difference between poverty or not for the surviving spouse.

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What Is Clean Fiction?




When you visit a library, the books are all arranged according to categories. It makes the job of finding what you want so much easier than having all the books just loaded on the shelves randomly.

Similarly with online bookstores, books and eBooks are organized according to classification. All the mystery stories are in one section, all the suspense thrillers are together, all the sweet romances are together. That’s how Amazon does it. Barnes and Noble too. In fact, all the digital book sellers use a classification system that groups similar books all together.

The classification categories are based on what readers want, and what readers look for. Businesses exist to meet the needs of the market place, so if the buying public want something, it will be made available by some enterprising business.

Take murder mysteries for example. Knowing that the reading public loves to read murder stories, many writers have specialized in that genre. Often the reader is treated to descriptions of brutal murders with or without rape. The more shocking these acts are, the stronger the audience reaction will often be.

There are other writers who choose not to write such gory stories. They may deal with a murder or a sexual attack but without highlighting the violence, suffering or horror. It’s a tragic fact that human beings around the world violate each other every day, but there are writers who may or may not include such terrible things in their stories, but if they do the evils are treated briefly.

They choose to write stories without violence. Or if a violent act is included in their story, it is not dwelt on in any blow-by-blow way. It is not glorified. The reader will know that somebody was murdered but they won’t be struggling with mental pictures of the evil.

This is what clean fiction is about. Or more accurately, this is part of the ethos adopted by authors of clean fiction. As H.L. Wegley says of his stories, “descriptions and events will never be gross, graphic, or gratuitous.” He writes inspirational thrillers and high-action romantic suspense novels.

Wegley is one of the authors featured at where books are chosen which are clean by virtue of: no bedroom scenes, no swearing or foul language, and where violence (if there is any) is not glorified. Some of my favorite authors also avoid profanity.

Clean fiction is not so much a book category but a description of the author’s writing. So clean fiction includes romance, suspense, mysteries, thrillers… even time travel. Pretty much any genre can be written in a clean way.

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What is America’s Number One New Year’s Resolution?




Yes, you guessed it. Americans resolve to lose weight. So it is not at all out of the question to assume this resolution may be on your list as well.
If so, then keep in mind that achieving your health and fitness goals is not just a day-to-day, week-to-week or month-to-month affair. The key to keeping this New Year’s resolution is changing your entire lifestyle.
Although the phrase “weight loss” is really the hot button, fat loss is the actual issue. In order to lose excess body fat, you must take care of your body and nurture your emotional state too. So it is very important to remember as fat is lost, you should also help yourself crucial gain self-esteem.

Do not put your self-esteem on a weight loss plan as well.
Here are a few practical tips to effective fat loss and esteem improvement:
First, Take some time to learn. Do not be a “dense dieter.” It is recommended that you one of the original lifestyle diets, the Zone Diet Plan. As creator of this particular way of living and eating, Dr. Barry Sears has written eleven Zone Diet-related books and many include easy recipes to keep you in the Zone.

You may want to purchase a Zone Diet book and then try the recipes with your family. Get yourself into the nutritional state of mind. Becoming knowledgeable

will help you to internalize a healthy lifestyle you can follow with sincere understanding and confidence.
Second of all, realize Although weighing yourself is indeed important, it is in fact much more important to let your clothes speak for themselves. Monitor how your clothes are fitting you. That is much more gratifying and less defeating.
Thirdly, If you were thinner in the earlier years of your life, keep your thin photographs taped to your mirrors and carry one in your wallet. Take photos of yourself each month and put them in a scrapbook. It is very important to have a realistic view of your soon-to-be self.
Do not throw away that old pair of jeans that fit just a little bit too tight. Keep them around since some day, you will slide into them. No more tugging and squeezing. Set a realistic date for trying on the old jeans so you are not disappointed.
Fifth of all, Beware of the dreaded binge. Do not set yourself up for failure, which can play havoc with self-image. Have a healthy snack between mealtimes that will keep you satisfied so you’re less likely to overeat at the next full meal. Perhaps 1/2 of

a Meal Replacement Bar. You will then be less likely to stop at your favorite fast food “restaurant” for a double cheese burger and large order of fries.
Also Select an exercise program that you actually enjoy doing. This could mean taking a belly dancing class, running with your puppy, or participating in some group sporting events.
And last but not least, Add “superfoods” to your diet like nuts and seeds, beans and sprouts and other green foods. Get into the habit of buying them and jazz up your diet and the nutritional profile of the your recipes as well.
This will help keep you in the zone for good.

For more information on the Zone visit Zone Diet Nutrition and learn more.

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What Do You Expect From Your Customers?




Customers are the backbone of every business. And no business can survive if it doesn’t take care of its customers. In fact, managing your customers is as crucial as managing your employees. Having said that, some customers can cause unneeded stress and take up too much your valuable time.

So what should you expect from your customers and how can this make your life easier?

Get Rid of Bad Ones

Your time is valuable and there’s no reason to use up all your time dealing with people who are hostile, rude, or who don’t want to spend any money with you.

Sometimes, business owners may think that offering exceptional service involves enduring the worst customers. But while it pays to offer excellent customer service, this doesn’t mean you’re obligated to tolerate people who make you and your team miserable.

Be respectful and polite and send them on their way. However, there may be some exceptions, especially with high-profile clients whom you deem necessary to put up with. It’s up to you to decide how much you’re willing to endure to secure a customer or a sale.

And remember that you’re giving them permission to treat you badly and they’ll continue to do so if you don’t set and stick to your boundaries.

Don’t Give Free Products or Services

Some customers just like to talk. These are the people who only want free information from you and they have no plans to buy anything from you. Yes, it’s a good idea to offer comprehensive information to potential customers, but there are plenty of other people who are waiting and are ready to buy what you’re offering. Be self-respecting and cut off people who are always calling and never buying.

Typically, you don’t want to create a reputation of being a tyrant, but it’s worth it to be pragmatic and sensible of your boundaries. And the goal isn’t to alienate your customers but to let them know your business operates within a reasonable structure.

So don’t be afraid to have consistent standards. Because when you respect your customers and take care of them, they’ll respect that you run your business on your own terms. This is the type of customer you want.

Customers Return and They Pay More

To provide excellent customer service and build a successful business, you have to set and stick to your boundaries. Customers reward the companies they enjoy doing business with: they keep coming back and they pay more.

Customers Talk about You More

Providing excellent service goes beyond current customers, because 80% of people will recommend a business to friends and family after great service. And 40% of happy customers will share their story on social media. This will grow your business and generate more profits.

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