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Social Security Optimization with Jeff Quigley

In this episode, Jack talks with Jeff Quigley, Vice President of Enterprise Relationships at LifeYield about navigating the world of social security. They’re also joined by Alyson Dorosky, Marketing and Social Security Specialist at LifeYield.

Jeff helps thousands of advisors understand and implement LifeYields’ Social Security+ solution through group training and seminars. Alyson is a technical lead at LifeYield and covers the gamut of client services, including helping advisors keep track of the myriad rules around social security.

Jeff and Alyson talk with Jack about maximizing retirement income outcomes by leveraging social security tools, and the concept of delayed filing credits (for the client and the surviving spouse), and layers of income.

What Jeff has to say

“If you don’t have these tools, it is difficult to make good informed decisions that you can benefit from. Firms that are adopting these kinds of technology and tools, for instance, when the pandemic hit, their usage went through the roof. They were ready in a digital world right there.”

– Jeff Quigley, VP, Enterprise Sales & Relationships, LifeYield

Read the full transcript

Jack Sharry: Hello, and welcome. Thanks for joining us today for our next session of WealthTech on Deck. Each week we talk with people around the wealth and asset management business, the insurance and annuity business and wealthtech pros who are working on helping advisors and their clients achieve improved financial outcomes. Our guests today are Jeff Quigley and Alyson Dorosky. Jeff is the lead client facing person in the work LifeYield does with over 90,000 advisors who are using LifeYield Social Security tool. And Alyson is our lead technical person in helping our clients with the 2700 Social Security Rules advisors need to help keep track of to help their clients. So Jeff and Alyson, welcome. Great to have you on. And WealthTech on Deck.

Alyson Dorosky: Thanks, Jack.

Jeff Quigley: Great to be here.

Jack Sharry: So Jeff, and then Alyson, let’s start by talking about what you do day to day and helping firms advisors and their clients improve retirement income outcomes. So Jeff, if you’d start and then Alyson, talki about what the role you play,

Jeff Quigley: Yeah, thanks, Jack. So I’m really lucky in that I work in a couple of capacities at LifeYield, I spent part of my time working with our colleague Harry Bartle working with new prospective clients talking about leveraging our technology to start moving toward the UMH, which is, which is stuff that you’ve discussed before Jack, obviously. And then I spent a great bulk of my time working with our, our current clients, some of the largest institutions in the country, on adoption for our security plus tool. So my day to day includes talking with back office folks, includes large group trainings, it includes client meetings, anything that we can do to help improve the experience that our firms and our advisors, you know, have with our tool, and help them maximize that to get the most out of it for their firms, their advisors and their clients. That’s, that’s a big focus of mine day to day.

Jack Sharry: So I’m gonna come back and ask a little bit more detail around some of the stuff that you do and helping, folks. But before we do that, Alyson, we talked a bit about your role, because you’re kind of our geek, our technical wizard, you’re the one that knows, every rule seems you’re our more recent version of Mary Beth Franklin. So talk a little bit, if you will, about what you do, and how you and Jeff work together.

Alyson Dorosky: Absolutely. So I am fortunate enough to kind of work on all spectrums with the clients. So working with just day to day support issues, kind of taking deep dives into so security questions and looking at niche cases that aren’t really as straightforward as they may seem, and answering any questions all the way down from enterprise clients to consumers and answering anything that they need to know to really maximize their Social Security.

Jack Sharry: Terrific. So Jeff, if you would get a little more detail around some of the things, some examples, perhaps, we work with some of the biggest firms like Allianz, Franklin Templeton, Merrill, who worked a lot of firms around the social security tools are using their use of our social security tools, I should say. But when you talk a little bit about some of the things that you find that some of the ways that you help folks in terms of incorporating and into their practice, the importance of, you know, all these folks retiring, that’s kind of maybe a place to start, there’s a lot of folks retiring, more than ever, more than in any time in our history. So talk a little bit about your role in that and that sort of stuff you do to help people understand how to address the key issues that clients and advisors are facing?

Jeff Quigley: Yeah, I think it’s obviously a unique time, Jack. And that, you know, to your point, more people are retiring. And the knowledge or the lack of knowledge around social security is a real issue in that in 2019, about 60% of Americans filed for Social Security before their full retirement age. And I’m sure many of the listeners know that if you file before your full retirement age or giving up money,

Jack Sharry: want to explain that if you would, because we know the numbers, but yeah, and you know them in detail, but when he when he explained why, why it’s so important to wait as long as you can?

Jeff Quigley: Well, I know the numbers and details because Alyson’s taught me over the years. But you know, a full retire achieving full retirement age, depending on your date of birth is, you know, at some point after your 67th birthday, and if you claim your Social Security before you turn 67, you’re going to give up benefit, regardless of when you do it, there’s going to be some decrease in your potential benefit. And then any time after you attain your full retirement age, if you defer, have you benefit from what’s called deferred retirement credits, which is going to increase your benefit. And the important thing to know is that it’s not always about deferring to the maximum age. It’s about making sure that you have the conversation, right that an advisor is gauging engaging a prospect or a client to say, hey, here’s what your unique situation is. And here’s what this offer wire has told us is best for you, here’s how you can maximize your income from the Social Security Administration. And that’s why the discussion is so important because for most people, so security makes up about 60% of their retirement income. So we definitely want to make sure that that’s maximized. And to your initial question, you know, Allison, and I work with our clients in a lot of different ways. Right, Alyson mentioned that she does one on one meetings with advisors, coaching them on, on how to, you know how to use the tool, how to maximize the tool. We’ve even done with Franklin Templeton, we’ve done client meetings, where we would sit with an advisor, a Franklin Templeton wholesaler, and a client and spend 30 to 40 minutes walking through different unique scenarios with that client, so that they had some comfort and understanding to know that their advisor was doing great work for them. So there’s, you know, client meetings, client seminars, different trainings, you we do it all it all in the in the aim of making sure that the folks who are using our tool, they get great adoption, right? Because we know that if they adopt the tool, they’re going to add value at the end of the day.

Jack Sharry: So Alyson, correct me if I’m wrong. But the first of all, I think we all would agree that the what we hear consistently from advisors, the first question as people go to retirement, or think about retirement, I should say, first question is what should you do about Social Security. And then if you’d comment on that, in terms of your experience, and working with clients and advisors, because you do a lot of joint work with the advisor where you really support them in that conversation. And then the other maybe don’t want to go too deep, deep enough, so people can appreciate the detail. But what I’ve always heard is that between the ages of 62 and 70, there’s an 8% increase in benefit if you wait, so it behooves you to wait. So maybe if you’d comment on both your experience talking to advisors and trying to help their clients who are asking, I assume more than ever is asking about the retirement assuming about Social Security. And then also just a little more technical detail around that, that 8% per year.

Alyson Dorosky: Yeah, absolutely. So that delayed retirement increase is going to come after someone has reached their full retirement age. And they delay, what’s really important to note is that it’s going to get an increase every single month that dates they delay pastor first date when they reach that age. So if they wait, say 10 months, 11 months, there’s going to be an increase, it’s not going to be the full that full 8% That’s within those 12 months that they accrue those delayed retirement credits per year. So it starts after fra which for most people around this time is age 67. So once you hit 67, the longer you wait until you reach 70, there is no benefit path 70, but you’re gonna get that 8% Every single year. So you’ll get three years at least of delayed retirement credits, if you haven’t already filed so as people that filed or had the full retirement age of 66, they had four years of delayed retirement credits, which is huge, that’s a big increase. Now you have the option to look at, if I want to wait six months, if I want to take 4% increase rather than taking just your full retirement age amount, which would be your primary insurance amount. So that’s what you’re eligible for when you file. And a lot of times advisors think that every client case is the same, they’re gonna get the most if they wait as long as possible, there’s no benefit past 70. It’s pretty, they think it’s straightforward. And that’s not necessarily the case, especially when you’re looking at a couple, two people that are married, they’re going to have different birth dates, they’re going to have different primary insurance amounts, they’re going to have different full retirement ages based off their year of birth. So it really is so important to use tools like LifeYield, to look at the specifics behind every strategy that’s available to a client and no two are going to be the same. And the tools is really dynamic because it supports other filings like so if it’s not just a married couple if they were divorced. So a divorce spouse can take a look at what their options are. And oftentimes, they really don’t know how they can file and the rules that go into that. And that would be like an independently eligible divorce spouse, that person can file on their own. They don’t have to wait for their spouse to file if they meet all the criteria that’s laid out by the Social Security Administration. They’re able to file without needing anything from their ex-spouse. We look at widowed cases and all those rules that go into it are supported by tools like LifeYield. So we’re able to really help advisor guide a client through a really complicated situation. And a really tough decision to make.

Jack Sharry: Yes. So So Jeff. Our friend Alyson just demonstrated how wicked smart she is, we like to say in Boston. I’m going to come back to MIT about some of the work you do Alyson with the Social Security Administration on behalf of with clients. We’ll come back to that in just a moment but Jeff, you, you and I are more alike than we are like Alyson and that Alyson knows all that stuff. And we just pay attention to when she speaks. But talk a little bit about how you then work with folks. Because after that first question around, when should I take my Social Security? The next question is, what do I do with my rollover, so talking about the role of, of what you do in terms of working with folks not only to identify when’s the appropriate time, and Allison certainly makes us all look good by getting the especially more thorny, or difficult, challenging situations. But you will then show the advisor, once that’s been determined, not only when they should file, but then what they should do about in terms of setting up an income plan and dealing with the rollover, or at least creating the opportunity, get the rollover. So talk a little bit about the work that you do in terms of helping advisors, frankly, help their clients succeed, and in so doing, really succeed themselves.

Jeff Quigley: Yeah, there’s so many components that go into it. And when Alyson and I do these client meetings, the clients have static right to know that they could get more from the Social Security Administration. And then the next question was always well, what happens now, like what’s next, right? So what we say is that we don’t want to plan in a vacuum for security. And what we did about 18 months ago with, with input from some of our largest clients, is we built something called the income layers, which helps a very, facilitates a very natural transition to, you know, from security, to a high level retirement income discussion, which helps the advisor and the client move to that next step. So what we do is, we give the advisor in a very visual, very engaging way, the ability to identify gaps, and then very clearly be able to illustrate how to, to fill those gaps, right. So just a super high-level example, survivor benefits are great survivor benefits. And when you plan correctly, you maximize those security. They’re excellent. But in most cases, when the first spouse passes away, the surviving spouse is going to have a reduction in income, Social Security 30 to 40%. Most people don’t know that. So it’s an aha moment to say, oh, geez, now what are we going to do? And then the adviser has the ability to say, Okay, well, here’s the need. And based on what we know about you, here’s an opportunity to leverage this solution to meet that specific need. And you’re doing this in a matter of minutes. It’s not, you know, it’s not a, it’s not this, you know, half hour comprehensive financial plan discussion, or even longer it is we maximize security, here’s a need. And here’s how we feel that.

Jack Sharry: You know, just a little backstory for our audience. Like all of our best ideas, frankly, they came about through client conversation. And when I say client I’m talking about with our institutions and our prices that we work with, and I, I was party to the conversation with New York Life where they address one aspect of the income layers, which is that when that world spouse passes away, the other gets a drop in income. So what do you do about it, and one of the solutions they came up with others have different ones, but what they came up with was a life insurance solution, which made sense as a way to just protect the income down the road, it’s unlikely that both spouses will pass at the same moment. So what do you do about it? And then, of course, the other aspect of income layers is on the front end. If you’re waiting, suggesting people wait to 67 or 70, or whatever it might be, what do you do about it in the intro, if you want to retire, and so again, begets the conversation around annuities begets the conversation around using assets, and so on. So I also want to come back to you and talk a little bit about all of your friends at the Social Security Administration, I sometimes I hear sometimes that all they really can do is help with the administration of Social Security and not so much in providing advice. And I I understand you have educated a few along the way, as you’ve met with them, and advisors and their clients and true sorting out. So security, if you talk a little bit about that for us.

Alyson Dorosky: Yeah, absolutely. So the Social Security Administration representatives really don’t have the ability to give any advice, they’re only able to tell you, if you file at this age, this is how much you would get. If you wait until 70, this is how much you will get. They can’t give you an opinion, they can’t give you suggestions, they’re not able to help you look at all of the strategies that are available to you. So that’s why it’s so important to use software and to use an advisor and really bring all of that together, and then go prepare to meetings with the Social Security Administration, you want to make the most that you possibly can for your clients absolute security, and to do that they have to make an informed decision. And the representatives really aren’t as well versed in the rules and all of those little filing tips and tricks that we know so well. LifeYield They don’t know those and they’re not able to share that information even if they did. So it’s so important to use reports to print it out details for the client so they know exactly how they want to file when they want to file. So therefore really prepared going in. And I’ve had the privilege to really go with some advisors and their clients and beyond phone calls with the Social Security Administration, to take them through that full filing process from start to finish, to make sure that they are filing with the strategy that they’ve prepared with the advisor.

Jack Sharry: Terrific, awesome. Another question in the work that you do with the advisors and their clients, and banking off of what Jeff was just sharing about income layers, maybe a couple of examples, maybe on the front end, where people need to fill in income on the front end some of the particulars of what you suggest, and I know, it’s different for every single client as it should be. And then on the back end, in terms of when one of the spouses pass up, maybe just to give our audience a sense for the idea around how to basically smooth out the income and because in deferring, you’re gonna have more income over time, they’re actually able to elevate the income stream, throughout.

Alyson Dorosky: So the case that Jeff was talking about is really more common now than I’ve seen before my time at LifeYield. So in the past five years, I’ve seen an increase in planning for when that first spouse passes away. So the husband wants to know what it’ll look like for his wife for her income when he passes. And what’s really important for survivor benefits is that the higher earning spouse, if that is the husband, if he passes first, and he had delayed filing for Social Security until he was 70, the amount that he was receiving, including those delayed retirement credits, are going to go to his wife. So that full amount that he was getting, by waiting until 70, to take Social Security, his wife will get upon his death. So she’s gonna only get one benefit, and she’s gonna get the higher of the two. So you find that most clients want to prepare for that other spouse, they want to know that they’re taking care of that they’re getting as much as they possibly can. And by delaying you’re really setting up the other spouse for financial success in the future. In the long game, and divorced spouses, that’s also something that the tool really looks at. So we look at what it’s going to be if the ex-spouse passes away, when the surviving ex-spouse gets that delayed, retirement credits that were earned, they’re gonna get a survivor benefit. All that really comes into play and planning for cases like this. And they are not as nice as they used to be, they are more frequent, looking at what it’s going to be to bridge that gap. So losing the other benefit when you only have that one. That’s the higher of the two.

Jack Sharry: Gotcha. So Jeff, you and I have been fighting the rules our whole lives. So it’s, I guess we have to finally admit that the rules matter. Would you agree?

Jeff Quigley: I agree that rules matter.

Jack Sharry: I’m joking, of course. But Alyson has been doing a fabulous job on our behalf as a company and as is folks here at LifeYield. But I’m always reminded like, oh, wow, those rules really do matter. You have to know the nits and grits, maybe Jeff. you just comment on that, because I know a lot of your role is to kind of translate Alyson’s super smart understanding of it all. And you translate it into training sessions, seminars, translated into making it available, I know you’ve developed a seminar series. So talk a little bit, not as serious as much as a seminar that that you’re doing with some folks and making available to some other folks. So maybe talk a little bit about how this translates and gets in the, in the hands of advisors and their clients.

Jeff Quigley: Yeah, so I’m lucky enough to hear Alyson. You spew her knowledge, if you will. And then one day, I was listening to a previous Well, tech on deck podcast and Mary Beth Franklin. And Mary Beth said that by far the best tool and advisor has today is this whole security seminar. So I’m thinking to myself, Okay, we have great knowledge on our team. We have great clients who want to leverage what we’re what we provide. So let’s, let’s wrap this up and put it in a seminar. And I started looking around some of their seminars, I said, Jesus, this is like, you know, it’s boring, right? These seminars are just too detailed, you know, lots of nitty gritty, you know, all of that. So I tried, you know, between Allison and myself and, and some other colleagues. We tried to build something that was engaging, that was short enough to hold, you know, people’s attention. But the most important thing, Jack, and because the facts are the facts, right, those 2700 rules, they’re there and they’re not fluctuating. The big differentiator. And the big advantage that firms have is that you can build this, you can build great marketing stuff, right? But if there’s no call to action, then it’s just kind of fallen flat. So what we built was, you know, 20 slides that were they’re supposed to be informative, and fun, but create that, you know, that compelling reason For that seminar attendee, that prospect of that client to say, Hey, Mr. Advisor, I love what you said, Now, can we run my analysis, right? Because that’s what everything leads to, is getting that engagement going. Because otherwise, it’s just a fancy, you know, just a fancy shiny seminar as opposed to, here’s a great seminar. And here’s what we do once that seminar is completed.

Jack Sharry: And one of the things that the three of us know and share with our audience at firms like Merrill 90% of the advisors use the social security tool that we’ve made available, and with our friends at Franklin Templeton 10,000 advisors each month are using the tool and at Personal Capital, it’s an integral part of the social, excuse me, the financial planning process. And what we I think we all find, and maybe Alyson, you can comment on this, is that when we help people figure out that there’s an answer, it inevitably leads to the next question. So what do we do about it? And that’s where you come in. So maybe talk a little bit about this very popular tool, we’re just basically giving them an answer, which leads to a, what do I do next? Discussion. So talk a little bit about that, and your experience working with, with advisors.

Alyson Dorosky: Yeah, so once the clients run their case, like Jeff said, they’re gonna use the next part of the tool. So transitioning the conversation into planning with the income layers, and then once they have that full plan, really in place, what the advisor can use is a checklist that we established. So it gives the client a step by step plan that the advisor helps line out, and it goes through the timeline of filing process. So what they want to do is they want to make sure they have the report printed out, make sure they have the timeline for the checklist, and then going step by step through that process. So starting off with making an appointment at the Social Security Administration, really starting that application process, it is tedious. My own parents are going through filing for Social Security. And I see firsthand that it is as complicated as we experience with advisors and clients, it is super overwhelming. And being able to have advisors that use tools like LifeYield, and have all that preparation going into it makes it so much easier, it’s not going to be such a cumbersome process. And using the timeline and the checklists really makes it more achievable and less stressful for the client. So going in filling out that application, making sure that they’re getting a knowledgeable representative from the Social Security Administration, making sure that they are able to follow the plan that the tool and the advisor helps to really put into play for them.

Jack Sharry: Gotcha. So this has been a fascinating discussion, I’m gonna, we’re gonna, start to move toward towards bringing this home. And Jeff, so if you would, if you could identify what are three key takeaways that would be important for our clients to understand is there from our discussion today that they might apply in their in their day to day lives? And Elson us? I’ll ask you that question just a moment.

Jeff Quigley: So you know, not I don’t think this can be overstated. You know, you know, since I was a wholesaler at Planko, you know, 15 years ago, we’ve been talking about the baby boomers, right, so that the wave has crashed to the shores, they’re here, they need guidance, and they need advice. And when you when you couple that with the fact that the education level around social security and the tools that you know, that a regular investor has to make informed decisions are just not there. And if you don’t have those tools, you can miss out on a lot, right. So we’re, you know, we’re in the business of improving outcomes. If you don’t have these tools, it is difficult to make good informed decisions that you can benefit from. So this is not going away, we need to face it head on, either. My second takeaway would be firms, firms that are that are adopting this kind of technology are using tools like this, for instance, Personal Capital, when the pandemic hit, their usage went through the roof, because they are they are ready in a digital world right there. They’re combining digital and human advice. So firms they get on the leading edge of this are going to be way ahead of the game. And to take that one step further, is that firms who help their advisors have leverage these tools, and I mean, not just say, Hey, this is available, but teach them how to use it, and how others are benefiting from it. That’s going to give them another leg up. And then finally, I would say that there’s a huge opportunity in this space for retirement plan providers, retirement plan, advisors, plan sponsors, record keepers, there’s a huge opportunity for them to provide tools like this direct to their plant participants, because so many today are getting their guidance and advice at work, because that’s where their 401k is. So I think there’s a huge opportunity in that market to make a big splash providing this kind of value, add advice to clients not only benefit clients, but also helping those firms retain those clients because they’re adding that value.

Jack Sharry: Great now Were there three key things or you should take away from our discussion today.

Alyson Dorosky: The first would be that there are no two cases that are going to look the exact same dates of birth really are huge and planning for Social Security. And there’s more than just waiting until 70 To make the most out of your benefits. And so looking at different claiming strategies and utilizing software, like LifeYield is so, so huge for clients and advisors. Next would be it’s so important and vital to arm your clients with the knowledge and the information before going into that filing meeting with the Social Security Administration. So printing out the Social Security filing checklist, printing out the LifeYield report, arming them with that information is going to be huge. So they’re going to feel comfortable, they’re not going to feel overwhelmed, and they’re gonna go in with a plan. And I think the third would be that the Social Security Administration isn’t able to give advice. So your client is really going to be looking to you to maximize their Social Security, you’re their biggest asset, aside from the software, you’re able to really help them take it further to maximize their benefits and make a decision that they’re not going to regret in the future. They’re going to make all that money that they possibly can out of their Social Security, Social Security benefits that they’ve earned.

Jack Sharry: Terrific. Well, this has been a wonderful session. And as we do each week, we ask our guests what they do outside of work, when they’re not doing their day job that they’re particularly passionate about or interested in or having fun doing. So, Jeff, when he kick it off, what do you do away from talking about Social Security and improving financial outcomes for advisors and their clients.

Jeff Quigley: So I am, I spend most of my time chasing my kids around and it’s probably not a unique, it’s not a unique thing. But I’ve got two kids. My daughter is 17. And she’s an avid runner. So I’ll tell you there’s nothing like watching a great cross country race. In those cross country races you can you’ve got to yourself, you have to run you run from spot to spot to see to see the different aspects of the race, but you’re getting here ready to go off to school. So I’m just trying to enjoy every moment there and my my son’s 15 And He’s an avid baseball player and I take great joy and great agony watching him toe the rubber at least once a week.

Jack Sharry: That’s great. That’s great. Thank you, Alyson, what do you do for fun outside of work? I think I know the answer.

Alyson Dorosky: I am a first time new mom, I have a six month old daughter so I spend a lot of my time getting ready to chase her around she’s an expert roller so getting her to stay in one spot is not as easy as it used to be but it’s a lot of fun and it’s definitely something that I never expected at this point and I’m so excited to be able to be doing.

Jack Sharry: Great and thanks for sharing that it’s been a wonderful journey watching you Mom at least via zoom so you’re doing a great job and of course: Thank you.

Alyson Dorosky: Thanks, Jack.