This column is being written on Sept. 2, a significant date to me because it happens to be my wife's birthday. I won't say how old she is, but let's just say she is 71. Gosh, I can't believe I'm married to a woman who is older than some of my socks and underwear!
But I'm not writing this column to poke fun at my wife or her age. I'm writing it ...Read more
As I've said many times before, there is no single Social Security topic I hear about more often than the current craze to maximize one's Social Security benefits. Easily, 75 percent of the emails I get deal with this one issue alone.
And this week, I received a couple emails that distressed me. They came from folks who have gone to their local...Read more
Thelma Every single day, I get emails from readers asking me if they are being paid the correct amount in their Social Security benefits. I am often tempted to write back and say: "How in the world would I know? I don't have access to your Social Security records. And there are all sorts of variables that go into determining a Social Security ...Read more
I've received several emails in the past week or so about Social Security's one-time $255 death benefit. As part of my response, I told each correspondent that I had addressed their issues in a recent column. But later, I checked and learned the last time I discussed the issue was 5 years ago. Gosh! Time flies when you're having fun writing ...Read more
I've been saving up some questions from readers who either live, or plan to live, outside the United States. Of course, all of their questions have to do with their eligibility for Social Security benefits.
Before I go any further, I am going to point out that the rules regarding getting Social Security benefits overseas can be quite ...Read more
Q: You continually refer to people getting full benefits at age 66. But you should know that for lots of readers of your column, our full retirement age is greater than age 66. For example, I will have to be 66 and 6 months to get my full benefits. Can you please keep this in mind as you write future columns?
A: I have been dreading getting an ...Read more
Nobody likes paying taxes, including Social Security self-employment taxes. And some people will go to great lengths to avoid paying them. But that can have consequences. This week's emails brought several examples.
I had one email exchange with a guy -- let's call him "Jack" -- that started with this. "I am 59 years old and have many health ...Read more
My wife is starting to get suspicious. Every day, my inbox is crammed with emails from strange women around the country! I don't mean strange as in unusual, but rather as in unfamiliar to me. A good percentage of these women are asking about potential benefits they are due as a wife or widow on an ex-husband's Social Security record. So today, ...Read more
The Knights of Juzhani: The Emerald of the Black CaveBrandon Young
Jimmy is an ordinary kid who is a senior in high school. Except for being a black belt, he is an average kid in every respect, with the same hopes and angst. Little does he know that his life is about to change, starting with his discovery of a strange emerald during his class’s field trip ...
Q: I am 66 years old. I've been married to my husband for only 5 years. He was married before for almost 30 years to a wonderful woman who is actually a friend of mine. Our accountant said I should file for wife's benefits from my husband's Social Security. But I don't want to do anything that will hurt his ex-wife who is already getting ...Read more
Q: I am 69 years old, and I am getting my own Social Security benefit of $1,770 per month. My husband and I were married for 22 years, but we have been divorced for almost 20 years. I have essentially lost all touch with my ex. I do know where he lives. But that's about it. I have no idea if he has remarried. I never have. Friends tell me I ...Read more
Q: I get a smallish Social Security check. My ex-husband, to whom I was married for 28 years, gets much more than I do. I think I am due some extra benefits on his account. When I ask the Social Security people how much he is getting, they won't tell me. But they do say I'm not due anything on his account. I'm convinced they are misleading me. ...Read more
Half and Half
Q: I've noticed that when you are talking about reductions in Social Security benefits for early retirement, you always say the reduction will be about one-half percent. Why do you say "about?" Is it one half percent? Or is it something else?
A: It is "something else" all right! I will attempt to explain.
You are right that I ...Read more
My wife and I recently decided to leave the dark ages and join the rest of the always-connected and always-online world. We got smartphones! Oh, we've been using computers ever since they became popular and we've had a series of iPads almost since the time they first came out. So we are not complete Neanderthals when it comes to the world of ...Read more
This is going to be another "hodgepodge" column. Instead of providing detailed answers to just one or two questions, I'm going to give just brief answers to as many questions as I can squeeze into the space allotted to me.
Q: I am going to be 62 in September and plan to take my Social Security then. When should I file for benefits?
A: The ...Read more
I've written columns before about people who, in my opinion anyway, are trying way too hard to squeeze every last nickel out of their Social Security benefits. They've gone to one too many of these "Maximize Your Social Security" seminars that are all the rage today. And they've gotten their heads full of phrases like "file and suspend" and "...Read more
My name is getting to be "Mud" with employees at some local Social Security offices around the country. It's not because they have taken offense at something I wrote. (Although that does happen from time to time.) But in some recent cases, it's because readers have misunderstood something I wrote and then confronted someone at their local Social...Read more