The Elder and Disability Law Firm, APC Aug. 12, 2013

If you were going on a trip to a place that you had never been to before, perhaps a foreign country, you would have a lot of research to do. Nobody wants to enter into the unknown without making the proper preparations, and if you have never been somewhere before you have to take the time to gain an understanding of what to expect.

This is the type of mentality that you should take into planning for your retirement years. There are a lot of details to consider, and knowing what your Social Security benefit is going to be is part of the equation.

The Social Security Administration sends out statements periodically that should give you some idea of your projected benefit amount and this is a big help. You should take the statement seriously and be realistic about where you stand.

People who are married may have some questions about their benefits after their spouse passes away. The way that it works is that the surviving spouse receives the benefit of the partner who was receiving the larger monthly payout, but the survivor no longer receives his or her benefit.

And, it is important to note that you can't get less than half of what your partner was receiving while he or she is still alive. So if your earned benefit is less than half of your spouse's it will be bumped up to half of his or her benefit amount.

No one expects the ordinary layperson to understand all of the ins and outs of Social Security. The best way to proceed when you are making preparations for the future is to sit down and devise an intelligently conceived plan with a licensed and experienced San Bernardino estate planning lawyer.

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