When to begin drawing Social Security?

New farragutpress business columnist Yvonne Marsh is a certified financial planner and certified public accountant specializing in personal financial planning focusing on life transitions – including retirement, widowhood and

divorce — at Marsh Wealth Management in West Knox County. She is a member of Financial Planning Association for CFP® professionals. Her columns will appear monthly.

Question: I am 65 years old, married and want to retire next year. I’m trying to decide if I should take my Social Security next year or wait until I’m 70 and live on my investments until then. How do I decide?

Answer: The time between retirement and age 70 is the sweet spot for retirement tax planning. One strategy is to delay SS until age 70 (thus growing 8 percent/year) and live on your 401k dollars. This assumes you’ll be in a lower tax bracket before age 70. Because there are several factors to weigh, this is a part of retirement planning that needs professional guidance.

Question: My husband has always been the financial person in our house. He has recently been diagnosed with a form of dementia, and I don’t know what to do next.

Answer: The next step is to get your finances organized using an online tool like Everplans or a hard copy binder. You’ll know what assets and insurance you have, and can make a plan to pay for his care. You’ll also need a financial power of attorney that allows you to manage his financial affairs. And just as importantly, make sure you have a plan for yourself in case your assets are drained paying for his care.

Question: My parents paid for a long-term care policy and never used it. I know I should be thinking about one for myself, but it’s hard to pay that premium never knowing if I’ll even use it.

Answer: I hear you. But yet health costs not covered by Medicare are the biggest unknown expense we face in retirement.

Consider an asset-based LTC policy, where you fund it as an investment and get a multiplied amount of your investment as tax-free LTC benefits if you do need care, and a tax-free death benefit for your heirs if you don’t.

It solves the “use it or lose it” problem of traditional LTC insurance.

Have financial questions? Send them to Yvonne Marsh at questions@marshpros.com, and she will review your question for possible inclusion in a future column.