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National Social Security Month

April 20, 2024 Alyson Dorosky By Alyson Dorosky

At LifeYield, we’re passionate about Social Security and finding ways to help maximize benefits. With three certified Social Security claiming strategists on our team, you’re always guaranteed to connect with someone who’s excited to talk about Social Security. That is why we wanted to celebrate National Social Security Month in a special way this year.

We sat down with Jeff Quigley, Emily Hoffman, and myself, Alyson Dorosky, for our first Social Security Expert group interview to dive into some fun Social Security questions. You can watch the full interview below.

How long have you been certified in Social Security claiming strategies?

Emily: I believe it was 2020 when we studied and took the certification, so it’s been four years for me and Alyson.

Alyson: Yes, 4 years.

Jeff: I got certified last October.

What is the toughest question you’ve ever been asked about Social Security?

Emily: The toughest question I’ve been asked has less to do with rules-based stuff and more with the calculations behind Social Security, such as how to determine someone’s PIA or FRA benefit from scratch. That’s tough because the Social Security site is in a different language. They need to make it easier to digest and understand.

Alyson: For me, the toughest question came in recently. I was asked to analyze a case for a client that was an enterprise partner, and they were looking for a specific scenario for a couple. It is a higher-earning spouse and a wife with no earnings history. She has no estimated Social Security benefit based on her own earnings record and then a disabled dependent son. The case looked at two different dependents, a child and a spouse, who were going to be claiming against the worker’s record, and so, putting that into play with what the wife could expect to receive and what the son will get when he changes his type of Social Security benefits, and then looking at the Family Maximum. It was a lot. It was something that our tool doesn’t cover, but it’s cases like that one where we get to help by researching – not by giving specific advice – but instead by looking at more generalizations and the rules. It’s being able to talk about those types of issues and scenarios that makes what we do at LifeYield so valuable. It’s something that I find challenging but exciting to do at LifeYield.

Jeff: Both Emily and Alyson made good points here. The Social Security Administration can be vague about how they do things there. They are not there to help you maximize your benefits. They’re not there to help your clients maximize their benefits. You can leverage us as a resource, even if there are items that the tool doesn’t handle. We’ve got this great team to help you work through that. I always have trouble with the rules around divorced spouses because there are so many. There are so many “if this/then that” scenarios that I need help with. I always go back to my book to try and figure that out if one of you guys isn’t readily available.

What is the best claiming strategy advice that you would share with friends and family?

Emily: It depends on who you talk to and what they need. You should consider whether you can afford to delay claiming Social Security for the highest benefit possible or if you need the income now, allowing you to collect benefits over a longer period.

Alyson: To build off that, people always ask me, “Well, what do you think I should do?” My suggestion aligns with what Emily said – that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and Social Security will be different for everyone. Everybody’s birthdates are different, their earnings histories will be different, and their life expectancies will be different. Various factors will make your Social Security case unique, so I always recommend doing your research first. You should go to, pull up your statement, find your most accurate estimated benefit amount at your full retirement age, check your earnings history, and then run a case yourself. As an individual, you should be looking at a Social Security tool to run your numbers to get a base knowledge of what to expect, and then work with an advisor because they will have the best full-picture knowledge. You’re going to have that individual opinion about when you want to file or when you think is the best time to claim your benefits, and working with an advisor gives you a full-picture analysis and prepares you for a more beneficial or impactful retirement.

Jeff: I don’t have much to add there. It truly depends, but make sure you’re making an educated decision where you get good advice that is customized and tailored specifically to you and what you need.

What is your favorite Social Security fact?

Emily: I like that it provides retirement income for people of all earning levels. As long as you’re paying Social Security taxes, then you’re likely to get a Social Security benefit later in life. Today, it’s tough to – at least at my age – want to store cash away and save it for your retirement. It is nice that Social Security provides this kind of insurance and safety net so that you will get some of your earned money back later.

Alyson: I’m sure that my favorite fact will not be a surprise to most people. I love the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. I find it extremely interesting because with the passing of the Bipartisan Budget Act as of January 1, 2016, if you didn’t reach age 62 before that date, you could not file a restricted application for benefits any longer. This eliminated a lot of filing strategies that most people who were aware of it took advantage of because it was an advantageous filing/claiming strategy. And now, that strategy is not available. So, the Bipartisan Budget Act eliminated something that most people were aware of which made filing a little more complicated and a little less straightforward than it was in the past.

Jeff: My fact is a super simple one, and maybe it’s not the funniest one, but I think it’s amazing. Now, as a society, we need more education around Social Security. Most married couples believe that when their spouse passes away, they continue to receive both Social Security benefits, when in fact, they will only get the higher of the two benefits. It’s a significant part of Social Security, and people need to be able to see it to understand its impact fully. It isn’t easy to highlight if you’re not using technology. It’s difficult to talk about, but you if use technology you’re able to get that “aha” moment where people can plan for what happens and the next steps. It’s one of those things that I enjoy because people need to have more knowledge around it and be able to help plan for when the first spouse passes away, and that’s all that’s laden throughout Social Security conversations regarding retirement income.

What is your favorite part of the tool’s user interface?

Emily: I love the timeline feature! You can click the various ages on the timeline to run several different age combinations and analyses. You can get the results right there in real-time. It’s very easy to see the results you need right away while being able to transition in your client conversation without ever having to download a report.

Alyson: My favorite feature is the Alternatives menu. It’s hidden. If you look at the custom timeline – the timeline outlined in blue – and navigate to the right-hand side, where there are outlined overlapping white boxes. If you hover over the boxes, the tool will show you every filing strategy that’s available to those two individuals at those two selected ages. If there are no alternative filing strategies, the tool will show you a message that says, “There are no alternative filing strategies available.” From the menu, you can quickly switch between the different alternative strategies, and the tool will show you the difference between the cumulative benefits for the lifetime of those two people.

Jeff: My favorite part of the UI – or the user interface – is that we quantify the difference in how someone came to the office wanting to file versus what’s the optimal filing strategy. Suppose I can show somebody in just a matter of minutes that by choosing an optimal filing strategy for Social Security, I can add $200,000 in income over their lifetime. In that case, that’s an extremely valuable discussion. We did that quickly, efficiently, and in a way that clients will understand easily on the screen. You can easily see the breakeven point. Many times, folks will think, “How long do I have to live for this to work out?” That’s why we make that visually easy to understand and see by using the graph and then the callout on the graph. There are several ways to quantify your value in the value of your advice. The other thing that we do is take the guesswork out of these conversations. Within the user interface, we’re accounting for all 2,700+ rules that feed into Social Security and what makes up an individual or a couple’s benefits.

To get support for LifeYield Social Security+ or to talk Social Security with our team of experts, reach out to

Alyson is a key member of both the Marketing and Advisor Success Teams at LifeYield. She's been supporting advisors using Social Security Advantage for 3+ years, which makes her an important Social Security author to watch. She writes monthly about Social Security secrets, niche cases and lessons learned supporting clients in the digital era.