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Social Security Answers expertCarol Thomas has recently retired from the Social Security Administration after 28 years service and is ready to answer your social security questions.

Read Carols comments in this BankRate.com Social Security article

Ask your Social Security Question


Q:  When will my check come this month due to the 5 weeks situation?

A:  Checks come out in relation to your day of birth. If you were born from the first to the tenth, your check will come the second wednesday. If your were born from the eleventh to the twentieth, your check will come on the third wednesday. If you were born from the twenty-first until the thirty-first your check will come on the fourth wednesday.


Q: I receive SSDI and I need to know if I can go back to college and get my degree and also do SS have an Accredited University I can attend online and if it will interfered with my SSDI?

A:  Yes, by all means go back to college and learn a new trade. When you are on disability, you are given a 9 month trial work period that you can earn any amt and still get your social security checks. This is to encourage people to try to work without losing their benefits or medicare. After the 9 months, we will look over your work and if you are earning over $940 a month in 2008 or $980 in 2009 your benefits will be suspended. Unfortunately, SS doesnt have any courses you can take. Try at your local community college. There might be special rates for the disabled.


Q: I will be 66 in July of 2010, but will continue to work until January 2011. When should I file for Social Security and why?

A:  Having worked for Social Security, the administration always wanted us to push the idea of filing whenever one was first eligible. That can work for most people. However, if you postpone taking your benefits after your full retirement age, you get delayed retirement credits. I think this year it is 4% a year. Now if you can take your money at full retirement age and get more than 4%, then file in January of the year you reach full retirement age (fra). You are allowed to earn over $36,000 between january and the month before your fra. As of your fra month, there is no limit on what you can earn. If I knew what month you are reaching fra, I could be more specific.


Q:  If I start receiving SS benefits at age 62 and continue working, how much can I earn as of this date without losing any SS money?

A:  I am assuming that you are 62 this year. The amount you can make is $13,560 for the year or $1,130 for the month. For example, say you earn approx $30,000 a year and turn 62 in Sept. You could receive a check for Oct, Nov and Dec provided you stayed under $1,130 for those months. You cannot get a check for the month you turn 62 unless your birthday is on the 1st or 2nd of the month. Next year the amount is $14,160 or $1,180 a month.


Q:  Lost my social security card and I got married. How can I change it to my new last name now and what do I need to bring I got my I green card with me?

A:  Because you were born outside the US you must go to an office in person. Bring your green card and your marriage license. You should have no problems with changing your name.


Q:  I am on SSD,can I also collect on my exhusband's Social Security?

A:  You may receive benefits under your ex-husbands acct if you are not married and your amount is less than 1/2 his full benefit amount. You must have been married for at least 10 years. Call SS and have his name and dob to find out your answer.


Q:  I have retired early at 62, however I am still working part time and paying into SS. Will by monthly benefits increase next year as am putting more money in this year?

A:  Every year IRS reports to SS what earnings are under your ss number. If it is better than one of the months they used to compute your benefits, it will be added in and used as one of your higher years, increasing your monthly benefit starting with January of the next year. To be sure this gets done, send a copy of your w2 to your local office and request a recomputation using the 2008 w-2. You should receive a letter saying if your benefits change and how much extra you will get. This will be added to your cost of living rate which will come out by the end of the year.


Q:  If I start receiving ss benefits in jan.2010 at 65 yrs. old and I take money from my retirement fund to pay off my house, will it be held against me on earnings since my full retirement age is 66.

A:  When Social Security talks about earnings, it is talking about earned income. Since your retirement is from a private source, it is not reported to the IRS on a W2 which is what counts.


Q:  My father who is 85 and collecting Social Security is remarrying. His fiancee is 84 and is also collecting SS. She is a widow collecting her ex's social security. Will their benefits decrease after marrying?

A: Good for them!!! Their benefits will most likely stay the same. Marriage after age 60 does not negatively affect ones widows benefits.


Q: If a widow is receiving ss and medicare and Medicaid and she remarries will she lose her benefits she is drawing now

A:  Remarriage after the age of 60 does not matter to social security. She will stay on her widows amt if it is higher than any other benefit she is due. Medicare stays the same. It is medicaid that could change. Medicaid is not run by SS it is run by each individual state. Their rules are different.


Q: My husband is 62 and wants to retire; I will be working for the next 15 or so years. Can he collect social security and not be penalized if I keep working and we file a joint tax return?

A: Your husbands earnings are separate from you. Earnings are reported to IRS under the ssn of the person who earned them.


Q: Retired at 62 and am receiving my own SS benefits. My husband retired at 62 also and receiving his own SS benefits. If my husband happens to pass away before I do would I be able to receive his SS benefits instead of mine.

A: When one of a couple passes away the higher amount is paid. These days it can be the wife as well as the husband with the higher benefit rate.


Q: If I am a 60 yr old working widow, would I be able to receive my husband's social security?

A: A widow can start receiving benefits at age 60. But a widow has an option that others dont have. She can take her own at age 62 and let her widow amt grow until her full retirement age or take the widow amount now and let her own amount grow until her full retirement age. You should find out which amt is greater and if possible delay that until your full retirement age.


Q: How can I be sure my husband born in 1945 and at age 62retired early is getting his full benefit? We have a child of 8 and one of 3 years old?

A: There are two ways to check your benefit amount. You can call your local office and say you want a re-computation of your benefits. You can also ask for a list of all your earnings and a Sheet that lets you put in your own earnings and figure out your benefit rate for yourself. Usually it is correct unless your husband has earnings missing from his earnings record. F


Q: I plan to start my social security in Feb. when I am 64. How far in advance should I notify social security so I can start receiving checks? If I wait till 67 will I get more? I plan to keep working.

A:  Why did you choose Feb? You can apply for Retirement over the Internet. You are protected from the time that you load on the claim. It is fairly easy. I would load the claim on in Dec. as soon as you know what 2008 earnings are so you can put them in the application. Use your last pay stub in 2008. Your benefits goes up about 5/9's of one percent every month. To most people that is between $15 to $20. If you are not earning over the allowed amt for 52 to full retirement age, then you are giving up a check for this month to get a check $15 or $20 more next month. It adds up if you keep giving up the checks. Let me know how much you are earning and I can better advise you.


Q: My 60 year old friend pays child support. Upon retirement, will SSI pays his child support from his SSI check or will SSI pay it from a special fund?

A: We need to know if the friend receives SSI or SSA? SSI has no child benefits available. He would have to settle that issue with the courts. If he gets SSA then there are childs benefits that would be paid separately from what he gets to the custodian of the child.


Q: My 60 year old friend pays child support. Upon retirement, will SSI pays his child support from his SSI check or will SSI pay it from a special fund?

A: We need to know if the friend receives SSI or SSA? SSI has no child benefits available. He would have to settle that issue with the courts. If he gets SSA then there are childs benefits that would be paid separately from what he gets to the custodian of the child.


Q:  My brother filed for SS in Reno, Nv April 1st of this year. He turned 62 July 19th and was told he would get his first check Sept 1st. He told his company he was going to be retireing on Sept 1st, but on Aug 19th he got a letter from SS saying he made 29,600.00 dollars this year and that put him over the limit of earnings he was allowed for this year. He was told by the SS he can't start collecting SS until 01-01-09. I'm going to retire next year on July 20th at the age of 62. If I sign up next April will I have to wait till January 01, of the following year to collect SS ?
William

A:Dear Bill, Your brother is entitled to a check for any month that he does not earn over $1130. If he retires on August 31, 2008, he will be entitled to a check for September, which will come in October. The first year you are entitled to a check, the monthly limit is used. If you are 62 in July, the first month of entitlement is August which will get you a check in September. As long as you don't earn over the monthly amt from August on, you will be entitled to a check every month. Have your brother call Social Security and tell them that he stopped working on Aug 31 and to start his checks for sept. He should not be waiting until 1/2009.


Q:  I am 67 collecting SS on my exhusband's work record(I have none) Will I lose my SS benefit and medicare if I remarry? I have been told yes by my county office and no by the call to the 1800 #. I would like concrete info. so we can make a decision. (my ex is still living)how do I get a concrete answer?

A: Hi Marie, This is a difficult question and I am not surprised that you received 2 different answers. The correct answer to your question is that you can transfer from your ex-husbands account to your present husbands account provided he is over 62. You will not have the 1 year waiting period normally assessed to claimants remarrying. You will keep your medicare but the claim number will change to your new husbands ss# with a B. Also your benefit amt will be 1/2 of your new husbands full retirement rate. The catch is that you will not be eligible for money if your husband is not. If SS gives you a different answer please write back. This a tricky question that a person answering the phone might not know.


Q:  I am age 60 and my wife is age 55. We both work full time and pay into SS. I know that I will be able to get full benefits at age 66. My question is this: When my wife turns age 62 can I file for a Spousal Benefit based on her work record then change my claim when I am age 70 and file one my work record?

A: No, The only one that can file on a spouses' record first and switch to their own is widows and widowers. Remember if you want benefits at 62 you should file. Don't wait if you are not earning over the amount allowed by Social Security. Without knowing your numbers I can only get you approximates. Let me know if you have more questions.


Q:  I retired from the U.S. Government after 34 years in which I paid into the old Civil Service Retirement System. I then went to work paying into the social security system. I will be retiring again next year after paying into social security. Will I be penalized by social security or will I receive the full amount they are saying I will receive each month. Thanks, Jim

A: I also worked for the US Gov and yes there is an offset to your social security. The deduction will depend on the amt of years you worked under Social Security. If you worked 30 years you will have no offset. Give your local Social Security a call and leave your ssn and tell them the years you worked under the US Gov and they will send you an estimate of what you will get. Its not an easy question to answer correctly.


Q:  My wife will be 62 in few months and she is going to file for SS benefis. She only work about 10 years in her life. When she will be able to collect from my benefits. I'm 63 and planing to work few more years. My benefits amount at the age of 65 will that will be afected. When she will be able to receive from my benefits (at the age of 62 or when I retired).

A: Your wife should file for benefits at age 62 if she is not working and earning over the allowed amount. She worked for 10 years so that might mean that she has 40 quarters or the amt needed to get some SS under her own number. To get benefits as a wife, the husband must be eligible to receive benefits. Wife benefits are an additional amt and do not affect the husbands amt.


Q: I became disabled at age 50 and receive social security and medicare. I am now 54 and my wife is turning 62. Will my wife be able to receive 35% of my higher SS rate even though I am not 62 yet?

A: No she will not be able to file under your account until you are 62. There are no disabled spouse benefits.

If you would like clarification or have additional questions, please feel free to reply to this email.


Q: I have been told that if you work and pay into Social Security for 30 years or more and are also in the old Civil Service Retirement System that you will receive your full Social Security and will not have it reduced by the "windfall" deductions. Is that true?

A: This is true. 30 Years Of Coverage (yoc) could make you exempt from the windfall offset provision. However, there is a specific amount you must earn per year in order to have it count as a year of coverage.

You many want to look at this http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/wep-chart.htm

And let me know if you have any additional question.


Q: I am 62 years old and will start collecting my full Social Security benefit at age 66. My wife will be 62 next year and is contemplating collecting her reduced benefit. If she starts her reduced benefit at age 62 will she then be able to convert to one-half of my plan benefit when she reaches age 66 or is she still limited to collect only her reduced benefit?

A: "The wife is deemed to have filed for spouse's benefits when her husband files for his retirement benefits," said a Social Security Administration representative. "She cannot delay spouse's benefits until she reaches full retirement age. If her spousal benefit is higher than her retirement benefit, she will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spousal benefit. (Social Security will always pay the spouse's own retirement benefit first).

"Additionally, anytime benefits are received before full retirement age, they are permanently reduced." Read SSA's chart on "How Social Security Benefits are Reduced" at this Web site.

Q: I expect to wait to collect Social Security until I am 66. I'll be 64 later this year. However I have a very high stress job and would like to make a change to something less stressful. I expect a job change would result in a salary decrease. My yearly statement from Social Security states the estimate of my benefit is assuming I continue making my current salary. I've been working for more than 40 years so I have the time in. What is the penalty for making less money in the final years up to your 66th birthday?

A: "Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over most of a worker's lifetime," an SSA representative said. "The actual earnings are first adjusted to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then, Social Security will calculate the average monthly indexed earnings during the worker's highest 35 years of earnings. We will apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at an individual's benefit amount. If a worker earns less in the last two years of their career, they would have two less years of higher earnings that could be included in the benefit formula. This may result in a slightly lower benefit amount."

Q: I remember learning somewhere that I could start my Social Security benefits at, say, age 62, and then at a later age [such as when I was eligible for full benefits] pay back what I received to date and switch to full benefits. Was I dreaming?

A: "Yes, he can withdraw his application for Social Security benefits that have already been paid," the SSA said. "He must file a written request for withdrawal and repay any benefits received. He can apply for benefits at his full retirement age, and receive full benefits."

Q: Can my spouse who has reached full retirement age collect benefits based on my record and then collect benefits on her record at age 70?

A: "Yes, an eligible spouse at full retirement age can collect benefits based on their spouse's record, then collect benefits based on their own record at age 70, to take advantage of delayed retirement credits," the SSA said. Learn more about delayed retirement credits at this Web site.

Q: When I retire I will receive payments from a 401(k) and a traditional IRA of approximately $60,000 per year. I do not intend to have a job. My annual Social Security benefit will be around $25,000. Will my Social Security benefit be subject to income tax even though I will not be working?

A: "A person will have to pay federal taxes on Social Security benefits if he/she files a federal tax return as an 'individual' and the total income is more than $25,000," said an SSA representative. "If a person files a joint return, he/she will have to pay taxes if the married couple has a total income that is more than $32,000. For more information, read IRS Publication 915 at this Web site.

Q: My father is 61 and my mother is 55, and have been married for 35 years. When my mother is old enough to take Social Security, it will be more advantageous for her to do so on the basis of her own work record (she has worked through all her adult life and so her own record is worth more than half of my father's).

I have seen a number of references to strategies whereby a spouse with a less substantial record will take early benefits on the basis of his/her own record, which is lower, and then switch to the spouse's record when the spouse begins collecting on his/her own benefits at his/her respective full retirement age.

My question is, can my mother do the opposite? That is, can she take half my father's benefit when she's 62 (and he's 68), then switch to her own record when she reaches full retirement age?

A: "For a spouse to qualify for retirement benefits based on the primary worker's record, the spouse cannot be entitled to a retirement or disability insurance benefit based on a primary insurance amount which equals or exceeds one-half the worker's primary insurance amount," the SSA said. Learn more at this Web site.

Q: If a woman (widow) remarries, would she lose her Social Security benefits if she receives Social Security based on her own work record? If she were collecting Social Security based on her former husband's work record, would she lose that pension? If she lost it by remarrying, would she get it back again if her present husband dies or gets divorced?

A: According to an SSA representative, "the remarriage of a widow(er) does not affect benefits received on his/her own work record. The remarriage will only affect a widow(er), if he/she is receiving benefits as a surviving spouse, surviving divorced spouse or disabled widow.

"Generally, you cannot get widow's or widower's benefits if you remarry before age 60. But remarriage after age 60 (or age 50 if you are disabled) will not prevent you from getting benefit payments based on your former spouse's work. And at age 62 or older, you may get benefits based on your new spouse's work, if those benefits would be higher.

And "generally, benefits cannot continue to be paid if the divorced spouse remarries someone other than the former spouse, unless the latter marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment), or the marriage is to a person entitled to certain types of Social Security auxiliary or survivor's benefits." For more information, visit this Web site.

Many other answers to Social Security questions can be found at the main Social Security site, www.socialsecurity.gov. Visit the site. End of Story

Question: If you are on Social Security what is the limit on the amount you can make if you go to work?

A:

The amount allowed by Social Security this year is $13,560 or if your using the monthly test $1,130 a month. If it is your full retirement year you are allowed to earn $36,120 from January to the month before your full retirement age month. If you are on Disability the rules are completely different.

Please let me know if you would like clarification or additional information.


Question: Return to work or not?

Hi, i have a question. My mother is 62 and has been collecting widowers benefits. In July of 2007 she went out of work on medical disability for treatment of breast cancer. We are deciding if she should return to work or not. How would her widowers benefits be affected if she does not return to work at this young age?

A:

Hi, Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. If you have any questions about Social Security, please ask. This is a new blog for me and I will use the questions you send in for future blogs. I will never post any ones name, or other identifiable information in my post.

You should collect now if you are 62 and earning $13,560 or less per year. If you are planning on continuing to work, Social Security will hold $1.00 for ever $2.00 you earn over $13,560 from your benefits.


Question: You should collect now if you are 62 and earning $13,560 or less per year. If you are planning on continuing to work, Social Security will hold $1.00 for ever $2.00 you earn over $13,560 from your benefits.
A:

Widows/Widowers benefits start at age 60

For instance, you could earn $18,560.00 in 2008 and only have $2,500 of your social security benefits withheld. This would be 2 1/2 checks if your benefit rate was 1,000.00. You would be getting 9 1/2 checks!!! Dont wait if you think you might be eligible because Social Security CAN NOT give retro benefits for retirement except in rare cases.

Disclaimer

You should consult with your local Social Security Office before acting upon any information received as a response to your question on "Social Security Advisor".

"Social Security Advisor" is intended to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. It is offered with the understanding that neither the publisher nor the author is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, investment or other professional advice or services. Information obtained from RetirementCommunity.com, including e-mail responses from "Social Security Advisor" should be considered as general educational information. You must never rely upon the advice given here. Your individual situation may not fit the generalizations discussed. Only your local Social Security office can evaluate your individual situation and give you advice.


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Thank you so much, you cannot believe how helpful this information is to me it will help me when I talk to the SS agent.
Thank you so very much for your reply!
Some of this is confusing...and it seems when you ask someone at S.S. you get a different answer than the next person.
I appreciate your answer.

Mrs. Gibson - 10/24/08





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