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Advisor Education

Social Security guidance helps clients and can boost referrals

Robert Kron
Advisor Education Specialist
Social security card and hundred dollar bill

When the Social Security Administration announced an 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2023 – the largest increase in 40 years – it was big news that spread quickly. Still, chances are that most of your clients and prospects don’t know everything they need to about Social Security.

That knowledge gap is an opportunity for you to strengthen your client relationships. No matter what your client’s age or stage of life, you can provide actionable insight about Social Security - a key component in a retiree’s income strategy - and a sound framework for making informed decisions they can feel good about. What’s more, because satisfied clients are a fruitful source for referrals, by clearly demonstrating your ability to provide measurable value around Social Security planning, you can also fuel your prospect pipeline.

So how do you initiate those Social Security conversations? The answer depends on your client’s proximity to retirement. Here are the key considerations to address with clients at different career stages.


Those close to retirement may have the most to gain from a conversation about Social Security because they face a complex – and often irreversible – decision about when to start collecting benefits. You can turn stress and uncertainty into a clear course of action that aligns with their needs and goals, and provide a sound framework for decision-making:

This cohort may also offer the greatest potential for referrals. That’s because they likely know other people at the same stage of life – approaching retirement with a lifetime of accumulated assets and needing guidance with a similar decision. Once you’ve helped them gain clarity, they are likely to want to share you with others.

Your chances of success will be greatest if you wait to ask for the referral at just the right time: that “aha” moment when your clients grasp why they are making the choice they are making. At that point, your next question can be: “Do you know anyone else struggling with this decision?”


When talking to clients who are more than a decade away from collecting benefits, focus on what's relevant to them right now. Generally speaking, that means taking steps to ensure they are getting full credit for the money they have been paying into the system:

That can lead to other conversations about how those assets are invested and accounted for in the client’s financial plan.

As their financial picture starts to come into focus, you could suggest these clients tell friends and neighbors to check their Social Security statements online and reach out to you if they have questions. However, if your team doesn’t currently have team members focused on investing in cultivating relationships with the next generation of clients, be judicious about soliciting referrals from this age group, focusing on prospects who will likely align with your target market in terms of income and net worth.


It’s always a good idea to talk to your retired clients about their cash flow, since overspending is one of the biggest risks to their financial plans. That’s especially true when either side of the equation changes. This year, that annual budgeting conversation can start with the increase in Social Security payouts and the opportunities it presents. Then you can offer smart ways to deploy the extra cash to advance their financial goals. For example, now might be a good time to:

Your goal is to help these clients see that they can leverage the increase to realize a retirement goal, potentially alleviating a nagging fear or doubt. In so doing, you demonstrate your value and build trust. That moment of relief or greater clarity is a great time to ask: Do you know others who may also need guidance with their financial goals?

Talking to clients – of all ages and stages -- about Social Security can be mutually beneficial. Your clients gain information, education and clarity while you can potentially increase your value to them as their trusted financial professional – and that may allow you to capture more of their assets. In fact, the share of wallet for advisor firms that are the main source of retirement advice is 72% vs. 28% for those that aren’t.*

If you have questions or would like additional help engaging clients in conversations about retirement and other financial planning, reach out to your advisor consultant or call 800.221.9271.

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*Source: NAPA, Oct. 13, 2021.

This material is provided for informational and educational purposes only as of the date of production/writing and may change without notice at any time based on numerous factors, such as market or other conditions, legal and regulatory developments, additional risks and uncertainties and may not come to pass.

Tax rates, IRS and Social Security Administration regulations are subject to change at any time, which could materially affect the information provided on this page.

The TIAA group of companies does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult with your personal legal or tax advisor regarding your personal circumstances.

All investments carry a certain degree of risk, including the loss of principal. Investment objectives may not be met.

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