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Uncovering Social Security Secrets

Marcia Mantell, RMA, describes how Social Security calculates benefits, how to claim Social Security, and how to plan for surprises.

In this Retirement Daily Learning Center on-demand webinar, Marcia Mantell, RMA, discusses four topics that will help you lay the groundwork for the decisions you ultimately have to make about your Social Security.

Marcia Mantell, RMA®, is the founder and president of Mantell Retirement Consulting, Inc., a retirement business development, marketing & communications, and education company supporting the financial services industry, advisors, and their clients. She is author of “What’s the Deal with Retirement Planning for Women,” “What’s the Deal with Social Security for Women,” and blogs at

Marcia Mantell, RMA

Those topics include: how Social Security calculates benefits, how to claim Social Security, and how to plan for surprises.

In the lecture, Mantell discusses how Social Security is designed to be insurance, or a safety net, for your retirement. It's not meant to replace your entire paycheck.

Mantell also discusses whether it makes a difference when you claim Social Security. It does.

In the lecture, Mantell describes the importance of knowing your full retirement age or FRA, how your Social Security uses something called "average indexed monthly earnings" to calculate your benefit, and primary insurance amount (PIA).

Mantell noted that those who wait to claim Social Security at age 70 will receive something called delayed retirement credits or DRC. A DRC is an increase in the monthly benefit amount due a retirement beneficiary or his or her widow(er) for each month beginning with FRA that a benefit is due but not paid. 

Generally, a person can claim Social Security as an individual, a spouse, an ex-spouse, or a surviving spouse, according to Mantell.

Mantell also recommended in her lecture that individuals visit Social Security's website to learn as much as possible before claiming benefits. And she advised individuals to sign up for a "my Social Security" account. With that account, you can receive personalized estimates of future benefits based on your real earnings, see your latest Statement, and review your earnings history.

my Social Security

my Social Security

She also noted that individuals can apply for Social Security benefits online.

Apply online for Social Security retirement benefits

Apply online for Social Security benefits

And Mantell discussed the importance of reviewing your Social Security statement, and especially your estimated benefits and your earnings record.

Social Security Earnings Statements

Estimated benefits

Social Security earnings record

Earnings record