How Much Do You Really Know?
Maximize Your Clients' Social Security
Become An Expert

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The Opportunity –
Social Security Advisory Services
80 Million Baby Boomers Need Advice
That's Over 10,000 A Day

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Take The Course Online
Pass The Exam
Receive Your RSSA® Certificate

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A Business Opportunity for Financial Professionals

There is a tremendous demand for professionals that understand Social Security. Most advisors know very little about Social Security and Medicare. Over 80 million baby boomers will be collecting Social Security. Your clients and prospects need you to provide them answers that are specific to their particular situation. As a Registered Social Security Analyst®, you will be able to provide the proper knowledge to your clients and educate them to make the right choices that will impact their future. Don't allow your clients to take chances when it comes to Social Security. Take advantage of this opportunity and get started with your training today.

Certified Public
Accountants

The course will provide you with everything you need to know about Social Security rules, strategies, and how to monetize this service in your practice. Provide billable advisory services helping your clients and prospects maximize their Social Security benefits.

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Enrolled Agents &
Tax Professionals

Adding Social Security advisory services transforms a seasonal tax practice with a year round client opportunity. As a Registered Social Security Analyst®, similar to a tax return, the final billable "product" you provide your client is a written custom analytical report.

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Financial & Investment
Advisors

Retiring seniors represent the wealthiest segment of the population. As a Registered Social Security Analyst®, you'll differentiate yourself from other advisors. Provide seniors with the answers and strategies they need to maximize their retirement income.

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The RSSA® Program – 5 QAS Self-Study CPE Courses

Includes everything you need to know about Social Security to pass the RSSA® Competency Final Exam
Completion of these 5 courses is required for you to be eligible to sit for the RSSA® Competency Final Exam

The 5 self-study courses are accepted as interactive self-study for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in all states and meet the NASBA's QAS requirements. Certified Public Accountants receive 15.5 CPE credits. Tax topics qualify for Enrolled Agents (EAs) and Other Tax Return Preparers (OTRPs). Enrolled Agents receive 10 CE credits. All five self-study courses are accepted by the CFP Board. Certified Financial Planners receive 8.5 CE credits. See the CPE Credit Requirements page for sponsor information.

Module Overview of Topics Covered

Most retirees are confused and misinformed about the topic of Social Security and many are seeking expert advice. As professionals working in accounting and finance, many of you may be getting questions from your clients about their Social Security benefits.

This first module will provide you with detailed basic Social Security information that pertains to all retirees, including a history of the Social Security program, how funding works and how benefits are calculated, descriptions of benefits available for married, single, divorced and widowed retirees, and critical information to consider when evaluating the election claiming decision. Case examples will be used to illustrate the most commonly used rules and strategies needed to optimize Social Security benefits through the comparison of best versus worst claiming decisions.

Financial and tax professionals who are confident in their understanding and knowledge about Social Security will quickly become the "go to" resource, not only in their own organization, but community-wide. Social Security expertise builds trust and adds value for existing clients and is a topic that easily attracts prospects.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of Module I, participants will be able to:
Choose the most commonly used terms and acronyms using the Social Security definitions learned in the course.
Identify the effect of life expectancy on lifetime Social Security income amounts and survivor benefits using a given couples' case example.
Recognize important Social Security program historical facts and changes to the program.
Recall the funding mechanisms of Social Security, including the maximum taxable earnings amounts.
Specify the steps used to calculate a retiree's PIA.
Calculate a client's PIA given their AIME.
Choose the full retirement age (FRA) for a retiree given their birth year.
Select the correct amount of annual decrease or increase in Social Security benefits for retirees who claim prior to their FRA or after that date.
Identify the current year earnings test income limits and the amount of Social Security benefits to be withheld given a retiree's age and earnings.
Recognize the rules and requirements for retirees to collect spousal and survivor benefits.
Specify the factors that determine eligibility for domestic partners to collect Social Security under the spousal rules.
Recall how quarters of coverage are calculated and the number required to qualify for Social Security benefits.

Delivery Method
QAS Self-Study

Level
Basic

Fields of Study
Specialized Knowledge (3 CPE Credits)

Program Prerequisites
None

Advance Preparation
None

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Module Overview of Topics Covered

This module begins with a detailed description of the most recent Social Security rule changes included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The legislation included changes to Section 831 of the Social Security program by phasing out two couples' claiming strategies.

The “restricted application” claiming strategy is still available for couples to use through 2019. The strategy will be explained, including which age group is affected, the phase-out timing for the rule and a case example.

The Social Security income claiming decision is often more complex for retirees who have special situations such as minor children, a dependent parent, a disabled adult child, or a pension from non-covered employment. Module II covers family maximum benefits, factors that make the benefit claiming decision so important for women, and, in Chapter 2, the two pension related rules, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

Chapter 3 of this module focuses on Social Security income taxation - the history of benefit taxation, the method of determining if and how much of a retiree's Social Security income will be taxed, and case studies illustrating the need for education and retirement planning to include and manage this taxation.

Chapter 4 addresses Social Security disability, including the general rules, eligibility criteria, application and determination details, and family disability benefits. Module II concludes with a discussion of the future of the Social Security program.

Some of the topics covered in this module may not so frequently be encountered, but must be understood to provide accurate, in-depth advice when offering Social Security and retirement income planning services to a broad base of clients and prospects.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of Module II, participants will be able to:
Recall the two major Social Security claiming strategies that are being phased out due to changes made in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
Recognize possible future adjustments to the Social Security program that will help the trust fund to remain solvent.
Determine the monetary impact of the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset provisions on retirees Social Security benefits given specific case information.
Specify which family members are eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on a worker's earnings when given the family's information.
Calculate how much individual family members may collect in Social Security benefits based on the Family Maximum Benefit rules.
Estimate the Family Maximum Benefit for a given case example.
Identify the factors that support the need for women especially to fully understand their Social Security benefits and claiming choices.
Choose the correct definition of combined (provisional) income.
Recall the two different combined income thresholds for single and married taxpayers and the portion of their Social Security income than may be subject to taxation.
Define the two eligibility requirements for Social Security disability insurance.
Name the five steps in the process used to determine a worker's eligibility to receive disability benefits.
Specify which family members are eligible to collect Social Security disability auxiliary benefits based on a disabled worker's earnings when given the family's information.
Select the two amounts of Social Security benefits subject to taxation and the years those laws were enacted.

Delivery Method
QAS Self-Study

Level
Basic

Fields of Study
Specialized Knowledge (2.5 CPE Credits)
Taxes (1 CPE Credit)

Program Prerequisites
Module I

Advance Preparation
None

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Module Overview of Topics Covered

Planning to retire requires a major shift, from years of working and accumulating wealth to suddenly relying on that nest egg and other sources of income for the retirement years. Recognizing the value of making a smart Social Security income election decision in the context of all other retirement finances is just the start of analyzing cash flow throughout retirement years.

Chapter 1 of this module starts with a review of some important Social Security terms and abbreviations and then moves on to retirement planning 101, a discussion of the retirement planning team, retirement income streams, and how Social Security is the foundation of retirement plans.

The elements of retirement planning are described, include gathering, reviewing and assessing all retirement financial information, income, assets and expenses. A discussion of lifestyle, goals, expectations, needs versus wants and other retirement topics is critical to understanding retirees' complete retirement financial picture.

Clients should also be encouraged to evaluate their tax liability, medical, insurance, legal and legacy planning prior to reaching retirement age. This module provides a system and process to guide clients on setting goals that will allow them to achieve the retirement they desire.

Often retirees are surprised to discover their Social Security income may be taxed. The impact of this taxation can play a role in the longevity and stability of their portfolios. Chapter 2 addresses the taxation of retirement income and the importance of Social Security income taxation management in the context of overall retirement planning.

Chapter 3 will provide case studies that illustrate the tax implications from making the interrelated decisions of maximizing, or optimizing Social Security income and the sequence of withdrawals from retirement accounts and other funds. Social Security maximization may not be the best strategy when accounting for taxation and the types of retirement funds providing income. Initial software results are often just the starting point for discussions with clients about income gaps, referrals to other professionals, legacy planning and more.

Social Security and Medicare are very interconnected and no discussion about retirement is complete without a general understanding of Medicare. Chapter 4 includes an introduction to Medicare, the eligibility requirements, a description of Medicare benefits, what Medigap, or supplemental insurance plans, are available, and the Medicare application process.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of Module III, participants will be able to:
Choose the common retirement planning terms and acronyms used in the course.
Select the reason(s) why Social Security income planning is the "foundation" of a retirement financial plan.
Differentiate between the funds in a retirement planning "stool" versus a retirement planning "pyramid".
Recognize how consideration and inclusion of Social Security taxation and income planning in a comprehensive retirement plan can increase the longevity of portfolios.
Determine features to consider when choosing a software to help with Social Security claiming decisions.
Recognize the difference between optimization and maximization of Social Security benefits.
Identify client information needed to evaluate Social Security and retirement financial information to optimize net after-tax income for retirees.
Recall how the timing of claiming Social Security benefits and the sequence of retirement account and other asset withdrawals can impact retirement finances.
Determine for given retirement planning case studies, the impact that claiming Social Security at certain ages can have on total taxable income and taxation of benefits.
State the four Medicare parts and the different types of care and services each part covers.
Choose the eligibility criteria for Medicare Part A.
Identify the work requirement to qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A.
Select the correct way that Medicare Part B premiums are calculated.
Recall the benefits provided by Medicare Part and Part D.
Differentiate between the various Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap) plans.

Delivery Method
QAS Self-Study

Level
Basic

Fields of Study
Specialized Knowledge (2 CPE Credits)
Taxes (1 CPE Credit)

Program Prerequisites
Module I
Module II

Advance Preparation
None

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Module Overview of Topics Covered

Chapter 1 of Module IV will focus on the current Social Security advisory environment and retirees' need for Social Security income planning services. We will address questions you may have about offering this service, and how changes to the Social security program can provide an enhanced marketing opportunity for providers of this service.

A detailed Social Security analysis will include a report and recommendations generated from software calculations. However, your "product" is really your expertise on the Social Security program. This requires an in-depth understanding of the rules and the ability to interpret case-specific recommendations and answer clients' questions.

Chapter 2 discusses the value of this expertise, education needed to become confidently knowledgeable and conversant on the subject and some further resources, websites, and columnists that will help keep you current with that understanding. Suggested steps to practice your skill are also explained in this chapter.

Chapter 3 begins with a general discussion of marketing service-based businesses versus those selling products. As with all service businesses, you are selling the intangible product of your expertise, and developing trust with your clients is vital to success. Especially in today's online world, the power of social networking, including referrals from satisfied clients, will play a significant role as you grow your business.

Chapter 4 includes suggestions on offering your services, the team of other professionals that can help you succeed, recommendations of both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) marketing niches if you want to specialize, and further advertising tips that can accelerate your new business growth.

Anyone who sincerely wants to help retirees with their Social Security income claiming decision can become an expert on Social Security if they are truly "all in" with their knowledge and interest in offering this service.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of Module IV, participants will be able to:
Identify factors contributing to the need for Social Security income planning advice.
Choose the correct answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about providing Social Security income planning services.
Select the impacts on the need for expert Social Security advice that result from changes to the Social Security program.
Specify useful steps to take to become an expert on Social Security.
Recall the educational resources available to Social Security income planning experts.
Recognize the options available to practice and highlight your knowledge about Social Security and your skills working with retirees to analyze their optimal claiming age(s).
Differentiate between the marketing of a service business and the marketing of a product business.
Identify the characteristics of a "trusted advisor" who offers expert advice on a topic.
Select the attributes of social networking that make it such a powerful marketing tool.
Choose other professionals who would be valuable team members to work with a Social Security expert.
Name some of the specific Social Security claiming niches available for working with groups of retirees.
Recall some cost-effective advertising tips for service businesses.

Delivery Method
QAS Self-Study

Level
Basic

Fields of Study
Specialized Knowledge (1 CPE Credit)
Communications and Marketing (2 CPE Credits)

Program Prerequisites
Module I
Module II
Module III

Advance Preparation
None

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Module Overview of Topics Covered

In this final module you will learn to use the sophisticated, cloud-based analytical software program, Maximize My Social Security. The knowledge you learned in the first four modules will now be applied to real-world case studies using this software.
As you transition from advisor to analyst, this software program will enable you to help your clients collect tens of thousands of dollars, or more, over their lifetime by making the right choices. You will be able to easily enter your clients' data. including uploading your clients' Social Security earnings history, with their permission, directly from the Social Security Administration website.
Side-by-side comparisons between any number of Social Security claiming ages and strategies allows you to show clients the difference in amounts of annual and lifetime income benefits. The software program will generate a custom, client-personalized PDF report with your company's logo and contact information. Your clients will then easily understand and appreciate your advice, the program's analyses and the personalized detailed report you provide them.

In Chapter 1 you will meet Mark, who is single and will be receiving a non-covered pension in addition to his Social Security benefits. This case highlights the changes to Mark's Social Security benefit due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

Chapter 2 presents the case of a married couple, Robert and Sarah, who have a disabled adult son. Determining the best Social Security claiming dates and strategies for couples involves analyzing thousands of possible claiming ages. In this case, it is even more complex since their son is also eligible for benefits when they start collecting.

Your client in Chapter 3 is a single woman, Julie. She was married for over 20 years and has been divorced now for about ten years. She is nearing her Full Retirement Age (FRA) and understands that by waiting to collect Social Security up until age 70, she will receive a higher monthly benefit. She is surprised to learn that she is also eligible for an ex-spousal benefit.

The example in Chapter 4 illustrates the case of a self-employed attorney, Thomas, and his wife Anne. As the owner and sole shareholder of his own company, Thomas is trying to decide if he should continue to work part-time, vs using other funds to bridge the income gap, until he turns age 70 when he and his wife plan to collect their Social Security benefits.

In all four cases, you will be provided with the pertinent client information and the client Social Security earnings histories. Videos illustrating the first three cases are included to introduce you to the software and guide you through the cases. Case 4 does not include a video, however detailed instructions will be given to assist you with the analysis.

For all four Social Security case examples, a PDF report will be produced by the software that you will download and save to your computer. Some of the chapter review questions will be based on the results in these reports.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of Module V, participants will be able to:
Differentiate between the WEP and GPO rules.
Recognize the reason(s) estimating maximum life expectancy is important when deciding which age to start claiming Social Security benefits.
Recall how collecting a non-covered pension can affect a retiree's Social Security retirement, spousal, and survivor benefits.
Identify why certain Social Security retiree cases will be subject to the Family Maximum Benefit rules.
Determine the difference in lifetime benefit amounts between the maximized and alternative filing age(s) for a married couple Social Security software case example.
Select the Social Security rule(s) that determine if an adult disabled child is eligible for Social Security benefits.
Choose the requirement(s) that divorced retirees must meet to be eligible to collect an ex-spousal benefit.
Recall the conditions that a retiree must meet to be eligible to use the "restricted application" claiming strategy.
Estimate the difference in lifetime benefit amounts between the maximized and the default alternative filing age for a divorced Social Security software case example.
Recognize the Social Security claiming factors that a self-employed owner, and sole shareholder of a corporation, must consider when determining whether to collect "reasonable compensation" in the form of salary or a company distribution.
Specify one of the most important issues that couples must consider when deciding when to begin collecting Social Security.
Calculate the amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes that a self-employed worker will pay on a given salary.

Delivery Method
QAS Self-Study

Level
Basic

Fields of Study
Specialized Knowledge (1.5 CPE Credits)
Computer Software and Applications (1.5 CPE Credits)

Program Prerequisites
Module I
Module II
Module III
Module IV

Advance Preparation
None

Sign Up for the Course

About the Association

The mission of the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts, Ltd. (NARSSA) is to provide financial professionals and advisors with an educational online platform to acquire the knowledge and skills, obtain a professional credential that demonstrates their competency, and provide professionals with the resources and technology they need to better serve clients that seek advice on issues related to Social Security and Medicare.

Professional Continuing Education Sponsorships

National Registry of CPE Sponsors QAS
IRS Approved CE Provider
CFP