How to Become a Social Security Planning Advisor

Darcy Bergen

February 8, 2023


A social security planning advisor can help you navigate the complexities of social security and maximize your benefits. They can also assist you with strategies to reduce taxes, ensure financial stability and improve your quality of life in retirement. Advisors who specialize in Social Security planning may use software to crunch the numbers and show clients different scenarios. It’s essential to appeal to clients’ preferred learning styles when understanding social security.


As baby boomers retire, they need more specialized guidance from their financial advisors than ever before. This is particularly true of Social Security planning. A growing number of advisors are obtaining certifications that prove their expertise in these areas. The retirement income certified professional (RICP), and the CRC designations are among these.

The RICP is specifically designed to help advisors understand the retirement income needs of their clients. Its three courses deeply dive into complex topics like taxation, Social Security, and Medicare and their impacts on retirement income.

Also, RICP candidates study other aspects of retirement and income planning. They may also demonstrate knowledge of estate planning, health insurance, and other risks retirees face that can impact their retirement income streams.

The CRC is designed for seasoned advisors who serve investors approaching retirement age. It focuses on the same key education areas as the RICP but has the less stringent experience and continuing education requirements.


Social security planning advisors must be well-versed in the complexities of the program. They help clients determine when to claim benefits and how to make the most of their payments. For example, they can explain that it’s possible to delay claiming until 70 and still receive increased Social Security benefits each year. They also can show clients a financial planning software tool that illustrates different scenarios for their future.

To earn a national social security advisory (NSSA) certification, candidates must complete training and pass an exam. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recognizes this certification. The NSSA designation is an excellent way to differentiate yourself from other advisors in your market and enhance your clientele.

The NSSA is the first professional credential to address social security issues specifically and to be recognized by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). With over 78 million baby boomers nearing retirement, the growing need for this guidance has created an essential niche for these specialists.


Advisors charge fees for their services, which typically fall into two categories: fixed and hourly. The fixed fee is the most common and may be based on a percentage of your account value, while the hourly rate is more of a premium for highly qualified planners.

An excellent way to compare and contrast advisors is by reviewing their credentials and qualifications for helping your clients with Social Security planning. Generally, certified financial planners (CFPs) are better versed than their noncertified peers in how to work Social Security payments into long-term financial plans.

A well-designed Social Security strategy can significantly impact your retirement plan. Coordinating Social Security benefits with your pension, personal assets, cash flow, and earned income can maximize the value of these aging programs.


Clients of social security planning advisors are generally older individuals with an extensive portfolio of assets. Typically, they have concerns about outliving their savings and want guidance on maximizing the benefits they receive through Social Security. Many clients also are concerned about spousal benefits. They often are unaware that they may qualify for additional spousal benefits based on their spouse’s earnings history.

Fortunately, most clients don’t need to worry about outliving their savings, but they should be aware of the Social Security system’s rules. For example, they should understand that claiming Social Security before the full retirement age (FRA) reduces the benefit amount.

To simplify financial complexities, advisors must appeal to clients’ preferred learning styles. They may need to share stories or explain technical subjects more visually. In addition, advisors should ensure that their clients are familiar with the Social Security earnings test, which requires them to earn a certain amount of income before claiming benefits. That is especially important for married couples with two working spouses and single and widowed couples.