Take Control and Maximize Your Social Security Benefits at Redefine Retirement

By Peter Landesman, Senior Business Development Manager

Social Security is supposed to be simple. You retire and, all-of-a-sudden, you start receiving those checks in the mail, right?

Not exactly. Decisions you make about how or when you begin to draw your Social Security benefits can impact how much can you earn while receiving your benefits.

While it’s true that those eligible for Social Security may begin to receive benefits as early as age 62, is it the best strategy? Is it better to wait until age 70 to receive the maximum benefit? Everyone’s Social Security situation is unique. The more you know about Social Security, the more likely you will be able to maximize your benefits.

Let’s start with some basic facts about Social Security.

  • Social Security payments began in 1937 with just over 52,000 recipients.
  • By 2018, the number of recipients grew to around 63 million with just under $1 Trillion in benefits paid.
  • The benefits received by today’s retirees are funded by the taxes paid by today’s workers. When those workers retire, their benefits will be paid for by the next generation of workers’ taxes.
  • The Federal Old Age & Survivors Trust Fund balance stood at almost $3 Trillion by the end of 2018.
  • Beginning in 2035, the Trust Fund is expected to be depleted to the point that Social Security will only be able to pay out 80% of benefits, according to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In order to keep benefits at their current levels after 2035, Congress will need to pass legislation to address long-term funding issues. According to AARP, here are some of the reforms being considered:

  • Moving the Full Retirement Age (FRA) from 67 to 70
  • Increasing the rate of Social Security payroll tax
  • Making all earnings subject to Social Security taxes. Currently, earnings over $132,900 are not taxed.

* Full Retirement Age is the rate at which a retired worker can collect 100% of their Social Security benefit. It depends on one’s birth year. The FRA for someone born in 1954 is 66. The FRA for someone born after 1960 is 67.

Six out of every ten non-retirees believe that the Social Security system will not be able to pay them benefits when they stop working. How is it possible to maximize benefits?

The best strategy is to be informed and make a plan. Seek the advice and counsel of experts before you make any decisions that will impact your retirement years.

A good first step is to thoroughly review your annual Social Security statement. This will provide you with your estimated benefits, earnings record, and taxes paid. This information is always available online. Just go to www.ssa.gov to set up an account or log in to your existing account.

Your statement will describe the amount of your Social Security benefit at age 62 (the first year at which you’re eligible), at your Full Retirement Age, and at age 70. Typically, recipients that begin drawing on Social Security at age 62 may expect to receive 70%-75% of the amount of their Full Retirement Age benefits. Those that delay receiving benefits until they are 70 can earn delayed retirement credits of 8% per year after Full Retirement Age.

In other words, the earlier the benefits start, the greater the reduction. The later benefits begin, the greater the increase. But, delaying your Social Security benefits is not always going to be the best choice. Factors to consider when deciding might include: expected life span, healthcare needs, the cost of waiting, the difference in your spouse’s age, and much more.

Deciding when to receive Social Security benefits is just one of many strategies to maximize Social Security. Want to learn more? Attend the Redefine Retirement seminar at the Mayerson JCC on June 11 and learn best practice advice from an expert. The program is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and refreshments will be served.

Don’t be one of the 90% of recipients that do NOT maximize their Social Security benefits.

The Redefine Retirement series is a partnership between Jewish Family Service, JVS Career Services, and Mayerson JCC and is sponsored by AgeWell Cincinnati. The event, Redefine Retirement: Maximize Social Security! is sponsored by Cedar Village.

Peter Landesman, Senior Business Development Manager, comes to JVS Career Services after 40 years as a marketing and marketing communications professional. Peter has worked in a wide variety of industries that include consumer packaged goods, retail, publishing, healthcare, information technology, private aviation, professional services, and employee benefits. He has worked for well-known companies such as World Book Encyclopedia, JCPenney, American Heart Association, NCR, and NetJets.

Peter has passionately pursued and welcomed opportunities to assist individuals with their careers and share connections that lead to the next step in their journey.  In addition to fulfilling a volunteer role with many JVS Career Services clients, Peter co-facilitates the American Marketing Association’s Career Transition Group. Among his other non-profit activities, Peter served on the Governing Board of the WE Lead Athena Program and continues to serve on the Steering Committee of the Greater Cincinnati HR Collaborative.

He and his wife, Linda are members of Rockdale Temple and Peter is proud to volunteer with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.

To contact Peter Landesman, please call (513) 745-2905, or email plandesman@jvscareers.org.

Interning Abroad Could Broaden Your Horizons

By Joni Burton, CPCC and CEO, JVS Career Services

Internships are an invaluable way to gain real-life workplace experience, and increasingly, that’s what employers are looking for in the new college grads they hire. That means you should complete at least one internship, but preferably more. You may want also consider interning abroad, as there are many benefits from an international internship.

  • With the world becoming more globalized, and companies and organizations having offices worldwide, it is becoming necessary that you know first-hand what your career field is like on a global scale. When a company has the opportunity to hire someone with immense international exposure and greater global awareness, they will not hesitate to take advantage of it.
  • International internships show potential employers your honest ambition. After all, not everyone takes risks, like moving out of their comfort zone and working with people from different cultures on the other side of the world. This is exactly what many employers are after, candidates who are willing to take risks to succeed and grow. International internships prove that you have the ability to make it on your own in a new environment, as well as the desire to do so. You can illustrate your ability and willingness to take risks by simply adding an international internship to your resume.
  • An international internship allows you to culturally immerse yourself abroad and will give you insight into how locals live and where they work. By networking with your co-workers you learn what life is like, first-hand.
  • If you are trying to learn or improve foreign language skills, an international internship will give you more exposure than what you are used to in the classroom. You can experience a new language in the context of the workplace. In your future career, being able to communicate in another language in the workplace will be extremely valuable and will increase your employability.

For these reasons and more, an internship abroad can be both personally rewarding and beneficial to your career.  Having international internship experience is one of the best ways to distinguish yourself from the rest, and help you secure that highly coveted position.

To learn more about how JVS Career Services can help you get an internship, contact us or check out our internships listing.


Joni Burton, CPCC and CEO of JVS Career Services, is a seasoned Senior Management Executive with decades of experience in recruiting, staffing and management. In her role as CEO, Burton is focused on growing the agency and significantly expanding both types of services offered to job seekers and employers, and the number of clients served.

Burton has a Bachelor of Science Degree from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.

To contact Joni Burton, please call (513) 745-2902, or email jburton@jvscareers.org.