How to Earn the RSSA Credential
1. Sign Up
2. Take Course
The RSSA® Social Security Course Curriculum is comprised of five self-study modules. These modules provide a comprehensive understanding of Social Security rules.
The training requires about 15-25 hours of study. The modules are designed so that you can take them at your own pace. At the conclusion of each self-study module, there is a 40 question, multiple-choice test that can be taken based on your schedule. To pass each module test, you must answer at least 30 questions correctly. Help is available from RSSA® headquarters should you need it. After completing the five-module tests, you are eligible to take the RSSA® Competency Final Exam.
3. Pass the Exam
The RSSA® Competency Final Exam is the final step to prove your Social Security knowledge. The exam takes 4 hours, is proctored by a live person, and is given twice a month online.
The Final Exam has two parts. Part I asks 64 multiple-choice questions. Part II includes 2 case studies with 20 multiple-choice questions where you will use RSSA Roadmap® Social Security RSSA Roadmap® Social Security Optimization software to generate what-if scenarios for maximizing a client’s Social Security benefits (you will be provided access to RSSA Roadmap® software and are taught how to use it in the fifth module of the program.)
4. Receive Support
As a Registered Social Security Analyst®, you’ll receive the support, education, and resources needed to become a successful Registered member of the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts (NARSSA).
NARSSA membership is required to maintain an active RSSA® credential. Inclusion in the association provides you with access to a myriad of benefits including marketing materials, educational videos, support, virtual meetings, & access to RSSA Roadmap®. Learn more about the benefits on the What You’ll Get page.
Here's What You'll Learn
The RSSA® eLearning Curriculum includes five comprehensive self-study modules. The online educational platform provides you with a solid knowledge of Social Security and Medicare rules including the following:
- Strategies to maximize Social Security benefits
- Windfall elimination provision
- Spousal benefits
- Government pension offset
- Social Security Optimization Software training
- Survivor and disability benefits
- Delayed retirement benefits
- Medicare Part A and Part B
Module I. Social Security Basics
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.
- Learning Objectives
- Identify the effect of life expectancy on lifetime Social Security income amounts and survivor benefits using a given couples’ case example.
- Specify the steps used to calculate a retiree’s social security benefits.
- Select the correct amount of annual decrease or increase in Social Security benefits for retirees who claim prior to their full retirement age 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.
Module II: Social Security Advanced Topics
The topics covered in this module allow you to provide accurate, in-depth advice when offering Social Security advice to a broad base of clients. The Social Security 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 the two pension related rules. You’ll also learn about 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. You’ll learn about Social Security disability, including the general rules, eligibility criteria, and family disability benefits. Module II concludes with a discussion of the future of the Social Security program.
- Learning Objectives
- Specify which family members are eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on a worker’s earnings.
- Calculate how much individual family members may collect in Social Security
- benefits based on the Family Maximum Benefit rules.
- Understand the combined income thresholds for single and married taxpayers and the portion of their Social Security income that may be subject to taxation.
- Understand the steps used to determine eligibility to receive disability benefits.
- Identify the factors that support the need for women to fully understand their Social Security benefits and claiming choices.
- Recognize possible future adjustments to the Social Security program that will help the trust fund to remain solvent.
Module III: Bridging to Retirement Planning
Planning to retire requires a major shift, from years of working and accumulating wealth to relying on that nest egg and other sources of income for the retirement years. This module teaches you to make smart Social Security decisions in the context of other retirement finances. You’ll learn about the elements of retirement planning such as gathering, reviewing and assessing all retirement financial information, income, assets and expenses, as well as understanding your clients’ lifestyle, goals, expectations. You’ll learn a process to guide clients on setting goals that takes into account their tax liability, medical, insurance, legal and legacy planning that will allow them to achieve the retirement they desire. You’ll learn about the importance of Social Security tax management in the context of overall retirement planning and see case studies that illustrate the tax implications. And because Social Security and Medicare are very interconnected, you’ll also get an introduction to Medicare, eligibility requirements, benefits, what Medigap, or supplemental insurance plans, are available, and the Medicare application process.
- Learning Objectives
- Differentiate between the funds in a retirement planning “stool” versus a retirement planning “pyramid.”
- Recognize how Social Security taxation and income planning in a comprehensive retirement plan can increase the longevity of portfolios.
- Recognize the difference between optimization and maximization of Social Security benefits.
- Understand how the timing of claiming Social Security benefits and the sequence of the retirement account and other asset withdrawals can impact retirement finances.
- Determine the impact that claiming Social Security at certain ages can have on total taxable income and taxation of benefits.
- Understand the four Medicare parts, eligibility and work requirements, and benefits, and how premiums are calculated.
Module IV: Working with Clients
Working with clients to analyze their optimal Social Security claiming decisions can be approached in a very systematic way. The process itself is straight-forward, following a detailed set of steps and requiring specific software inputs.
The value you provide is the detailed knowledge of Social Security rules and claiming nuances to know the correct questions to ask your clients and guide them in their decision. Making sure that a client’s personal past, current, and future circumstances are considered will guarantee that you are working towards their optimal claiming decision. Whether you will be offering this service as a stand-alone analysis and report or including it in the larger retirement financial planning service you offer clients, the desired result is the same – helping them to make an optimal claiming decision to guarantee they receive all they are entitled to.
Chapter 1 covers the Social Security income planning environment, what the current and future market is for this service, and how any upcoming proposed changes to the Social Security program will impact the need. Opportunities for building and incorporating Social Security services into an existing business are discussed.
Chapter 2 is an introduction to working with clients including assessing their needs and gathering the critical information needed for the Social Security analysis. The Social Security claiming decision can lead to an examination of other retirement finances, providing an analyst with further opportunities to work with clients on their retirement financial plans and grow their business. Chapter 2 concludes with a discussion about of presenting and explaining the analysis and report to clients.
Chapter 3 describes and specifically addresses the unique opportunity to help self-employed business owner clients who are nearing retirement. Sections include explanations of the major business structures, self-employment taxes, earnings and deductions, and how net earnings are determined and reported.
Chapter 4 introduces a unique service opportunity, the Self-Employed Tax and Retirement Analysis (SETARA). This analysis is Social Security based and provides comparisons of alternative projected client incomes and the resulting effect on their lifetime benefits and amount of self-employed tax contributions. A detailed client case is presented to show potential savings and resulting additional income.
Module V: RSSA Roadmap® Social Security Software Case Studies
The knowledge you learned in the first four modules will be applied to real-world case studies. In this final module, you will learn to use the RSSA Roadmap® Social Security software to examine various “What-If” strategies based on different claiming ages and see side-by-side comparisons that allows you to show clients the difference in amounts of lifetime, annual, and survivor income benefits. You’ll also be introduced to sample people who have special Social Security claiming cases including:
Mark Hamill, 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).
Robert and Sarah Marsh, a married couple, who have an adult disabled son Greg. Their case is complex since their son is also eligible for benefits when they start collecting their retirement benefits.
Julie Woods, a single woman who was married for over 20 years and has been divorced for about ten years. This case involves an ex-spousal benefit.
Thomas, a self-employed attorney has the option to take his compensation as a salary or as a distribution from the company. At age 60, he is wondering how these options will affect his Social Security benefits and survivor benefits for his wife.
- Learning Objectives
- 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.
- 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.
- Recognize 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 married and divorced couples.
- Recognize the Social Security claiming factors that a self-employed owner and sole shareholder of a corporation must consider.
Training and Credential Costs
- 1. RSSA® Certificate eLearning Program $1,500
- 2. Registration for National RSSA® Competency Exam $350
- 3. NARSSA Annual Dues. Starts at: $479/year
Your Clients Need Answers. Become their Trusted Social Security Expert.
Provide Social Security advisory services by becoming a Registered Social Security Analyst®. Help Your Clients Maximize Their Social Security. The cost to obtain your RSSA® credential is modest compared to many other education, certification, and business investment opportunities. Differentiate yourself and your practice and attract new clients with Social Security expertise today.
Get started today and sign-up for the RSSA® Certificate eLearning Program – a Social Security Training for Financial Professionals & Advisors. The cost for the education program is $1,500. The program is the prerequisite for sitting for the RSSA® exam. You can also schedule a call to learn more about the benefits of enrolling in the program.
If interested in purchasing an RSSA® Certificate eLearning Program package of licenses for your team, please reach out to email@example.com.
The Registered Social Security Analyst credential is an elite designation. You must meet one of the following criteria: Have an insurance license issued by the state in which you practice, be a FINRA registered securities professional or advisor, be registered with the IRS and obtained a valid PTIN, be a CPA, CFP, EA, lawyer or have another professional license issued by a state agency.