I frequently speak at Social Security educational workshops for clients, prospects, churches and civic groups. My firm also hosts at least one annual educational event specifically for CPAs and attorneys at which they receive continuing education credits.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to help many people maximize their Social Security benefits, introducing them to methods of receiving benefits that they didn’t even know were available. Often times I do this by writing blogs I post to our website and email to clients and prospects that have opted to receive them.

Patricia Burris, a planner and vice president at Meld Financial, found that a blog about Billy Joel was the inspiration for a surprise $14,000 Social Security distribution.

My most successful blogs are ones that include a story. By successful, I mean someone actually benefited from it, or better yet, we obtained a new relationship because if it. One of my favorites is what I call the “Piano Man blog” that I wrote back in 2015 which still has legs today. The story went like this:

Most baby boomers know who the Piano Man is, Mr. Billy Joel. What you may not know is that he and his 33-year old bride just had a baby girl and the Piano Man’s baby was born with a special spoon in her mouth, a Social Security spoon, that is.

Since Billy Joel is age 66 (in 2015), which is his Social Security full retirement age and is therefore eligible for benefits, his child, Della Rose, is too. Little Miss Della Rose may receive up to one-half of Billy’s primary insurance amount.

Since it’s a fair assumption that Papa Joel’s PIA is at the maximum, estimated at $2,685 per month (in 2015), baby Della Rose is eligible for approximately $1,342 per month until her age 18. This amount is subject to the Social Security COLA increases as well.

If you know a family member or associate that has minor children with a parent or step-parent that is entitled to Social Security benefits, it is worth checking with the SSA (1-800-772-1213) to see if the minor child could receive benefits. For more information on this, see here.

A partner in a local law firm who attended one of our continuing legal education workshops passed on the blog to her sister. It just so happens that the sister and her husband have twin 3-year old girls. The husband was over age 66 at the time and hadn’t filed for Social Security, but was considering doing so. As soon as his wife read the blog, she and her lawyer sister called me to see if the girls could receive Social Security benefits based on his work record.

Quote
About five weeks later they received a lump sum of approximately $14,000.

After our conversation, the husband filed for Social Security immediately. About five weeks later they received a lump sum of approximately $14,000, since he had elected to receive benefits back to the date he turned age 66, his Social Security full retirement age.

They will also receive $2,000 per month in benefits, plus any future cost of living increases, for the girls until their age 18 (or 19 if still in secondary school full time).

Now the local law firm, at which Mary’s sister is a partner, regularly refers to me their clients that need assistance with Social Security and Medicare filing strategies. And I conduct at least one CLE educational workshop at the firm’s office each year, pro-bono, of course. This is a win-win situation for both our firms, thanks in part to the Piano Man.

Patricia L. Burris

Patricia L. Burris

Patricia L. Burris, CFP, is the vice president of corporate & retirement plan services for Meld Financial in Birmingham, Alabama.