Professional Designations

What Is a National Social Security Advisor (NSSA)?

By  Ash and Pri

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A National Social Security Advisor (NSSA) is a finance professional who has completed the educational requirements of the NSSA certification and specializes in providing advice related to social security. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recognizes the NSSA certification as an official designation. 

This article will define the National Social Security Advisor (NSSA) certification, why you should hire someone with it, and what it takes to earn and maintain the NSSA certification. 

What Is a National Social Security Advisor (NSSA) Designation?

The National Social Security Association Inc., a for-profit group, administers the NSSA certification. The NSSA certification was created in 2013 and is not affiliated with the federal government. Marc Kiner, a CPA, co-founded the company with Jim Blair, who had over 30 years of experience working for the Social Security Administration. 

Most Americans depend on social security benefits in retirement, but navigating the complex scenarios and rules alone can result in mistakes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The organization aims to help retirees maximize their social security benefits with guidance from knowledgeable advisors. 

NSSAs can be recognized by looking for ‘NSSA’ credentials after an advisor’s name. They may also use the NSSA logo on their website and other marketing materials. The certification is recognized nationwide, representing an advisor who is an expert in the field of social security.  

Should You Hire a Professional with an NSSA Designation?

As per Consumer Reports, ‘maximizing your social security benefits isn’t easy, especially since there are hundreds of rules governing payments alone.’ This complexity is where an advisor with NSSA certification can help you. 

An NSSA can help you assess family finances and determine the best age for yourself (and your spouse, if applicable) to claim social security benefits. Claiming benefits too early is a big reason why retirees lose out on benefits. Retirees can lose up to 25% of their benefits by starting withdrawals at age 62. An NSSA can educate you about these outcomes. 

Most NSSA holders come from a financial planning or advice-based background. Therefore, they can guide you in formulating a complete financial plan. The advisors can also help you in bridging the gap in your finances until it is time to start claiming benefits and investing in retirement. 

If you have questions or concerns about any of the topics below, hiring an NSSA could be the right choice. 

  • How are social security benefits calculated? 
  • How does my spouse’s retirement affect my benefits?
  • Do I make too much money to claim benefits? 
  • If I want to retire early, what is the impact on my benefits? 
  • I work for the federal government. Does that impact benefits? 
  • My spouse passed away recently. Does that impact benefits? 
  • I recently got divorced. Does that impact benefits? 
  • How much money do I need in retirement? 
  • I have other sources of income in retirement. How does that impact benefits? 

It may also be comforting to know that NSSAs have to renew their certification every two years. Therefore, your National Social Security Advisor has the most up-to-date knowledge of social security and retirement planning. 

What Does It Take to Earn and Maintain the NSSA Designation?

As a prerequisite, candidates must currently work as a professional in a financial advisory role, where they advise clients about social security benefits. This is because the course does not teach the basics of financial planning and advice but instead focuses on the nuances of maximizing social security benefits.

Earning the NSSA certification requires completing an educational program, followed by successfully clearing the final examination.

1. Education

Students can choose to complete the learning program in one of three formats.

  1. In-person live classroom session: This option allows students to complete the training in one full day (7.5 hours) with a live NSSA instructor. These classes are offered multiple times per year across the country.  
  2. Instructor-led live webinars: One full day (7.5 hours) web-based session with an NSSA instructor. Students can log in from anywhere to attend these classes. 
  3. Recorded on-demand content: 19 self-paced video modules, which can be completed per students’ schedules. 

Note: NSSA in-person live classroom sessions qualify as continuing education credits for CFP and CPA programs. 

The learning modules cover an in-depth understanding of social security benefits, including the following topics outlined on the NSSA website.

  • How benefits are calculated
  • Spousal benefits
  • Reduction if benefits are taken before Full Retirement Age
  • Increase if benefits are delayed beyond Full Retirement Age
  • How Social Security benefits are impacted due to earnings
  • How Social Security benefits are impacted by children
  • Impact of public employee pensions on benefits
  • Social Security options available to married couples
  • Social Security options available to a divorced individual
  • Social Security options available to a surviving spouse
  • Social Security options available to single individuals
  • Factors to consider when deciding when to begin benefits
  • The appeals process

2. Examination

After completing the educational training, candidates have to clear an online examination. A proctor is present during the exam, so students must have a computer with a video camera. Candidates must pay $35 for the proctor’s services. The exam is a closed book test of the concepts, but the use of a calculator is allowed. 

Students must score at least 70% to attain the NSSA designation successfully. There is a 2-hour time limit, and students can attempt it twice to improve their grades if they wish. 

3. Renewal

NSSA certificate holders must renew their certification every two years by completing 8 hours of continuing education credits and paying a $395 renewal fee. They can also choose to pay a $1000 lifetime renewal fee. 

Featured National Social Security Advisors on Wealthtender

📍 Click on a pin in the map view below for a preview of NSSA financial advisors who can work with you to develop a personalized financial plan.


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About the Author

Ash & Pri

Ash & Pri are the founders of AshandPri.com, where they empower readers to make smart money decisions across all aspects of life. 

After achieving their FIRE goals in their 30s, they launched their blogging business in late 2021 and scaled it up quickly to generate a consistent income within a few months. 

You can find their expert financial advice & tips featured on sites like Forbes, GoBankingRates, Apartment Therapy, MSN, and more.

Disclaimer: To make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.