Austintatious wrote: ↑
Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:51 am
Mike, while it may seem obvious to most that the tool does not and cannot consider every factor unique to a user's situation, factors that the user should or at least might want to consider in deciding how and when to apply, it's just not going to be so obvious to everyone. There is an explanation on the website's "About" page that tells the user what the tool does and, just as importantly, a reminder that there are factors it does consider. Here's the text:
Open Social Security is a free, basic, open-source Social Security strategy calculator.
The calculator runs the math for each possible claiming age (or, if you're married, each possible combination of claiming ages) and reports back, telling you which strategy is expected to provide the most total spendable dollars over your lifetime. Please note that the calculator does not account for the fact that delaying benefits reduces longevity risk and therefore may be preferable even in some cases in which it is not the strategy that maximizes expected total spending.
Also, Open Social Security does not currently account for all the various circumstances that a real-life person/couple might face. For instance, it does not currently account for:
Child benefits (or spousal benefits for people younger than age 62 with a child in care),
Disability benefits, or
Tax planning reasons or other unrelated reasons why it might be better for you to file earlier or later than the calculator suggests.
I intend to add functionality to account for some of the above things, but it will take time. In the meantime, to learn more about Social Security, you may want to read my book: Social Security Made Simple.
But I don't see anything like that within or adjacent to the tool itself
, so that one could pop in and use the tool without ever being reminded that the tool does not have a crystal ball capable of knowing all the factors relevant to their claiming decision. Consider some kind of language within or immediately adjacent to the tool itself, something that either directs them to that text on the "About" page or otherwise reminds them that the tool, as capable and helpful as it is, is necessarily limited in its possibilities and that only they can know all
the factors relevant to their final decision. Hope I'm making myself clear.
Thank you for this. It has become clear (via posts here as well as emails) that most people don't click over to the "about" page (even in some cases if they have questions about how the calculator works). I've considered renaming the navigation link to "FAQ" (and reworking that page so it's in an FAQ format) in the hope that doing so would get more people to click over and read that page.
One thing I am hesitant to do is put much more material on the main page itself. On the one hand, I understand that more information is useful, especially to people who have questions.
On the other hand, my concern is that the more material there is on that page, the more overwhelming it is to a new user -- potentially putting people off from trying it at all.
(And, at least at some point, the calculator is going to require a few additional inputs, asking whether the user is disabled and whether they have any minor children or adult disabled children. In other words, it already must
get at least a little more complicated, so that makes me hesitant about including even more things, if they might not be 100% necessary. But again, I'm open to hear what the consensus view is here.)
Edited to add: Another separate but related concern about putting more material on the main page is that I worry it eventually reaches a point where people don't even read what is there. It's common for people to miss the "advanced options" checkbox. And I've already had several people email to ask what a PIA is, even though it says it right on the page -- right below the input asking for their PIA. I worry that more content would make this sort of thing even more common as people switch into "scan" mode rather than "actual reading" mode.