Senior Living

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Health & Spirit

Social Security and You: Full Retirement Age

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

Social Security and You: Avoiding Taxes Has Consequences

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

Social Security and You: Benefits for Divorcees pt. 1

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

Social Security and You: Benefits for Divorcees pt. 2

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

Social Security and You: Benefits for Divorcees pt. 3

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

Social Security and You: Benefits for Divorcees pt. 4

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

Social Security and You: Half and Half

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

Social Security and You: Finding the Right Person to Help You

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

Social Security and You: Q&A Hodgepodge

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

Social Security and You: Trying Too Hard

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

Social Security and You: Just Call Me 'Mud'

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

Social Security and You: Marriage May or May Not Cut Benefits

I have written several columns lately describing how a bit of miscommunication on behalf of my readers can lead to misinformation from me. This week's mailbag brought another example of this. It involves Sam and his wife-to-be.

Sam sent an email asking me this question: "My friend and I each get SSI. If we get married, will our SSI benefits be ...Read more

People With Pensions: Social Security Offsets

OK, teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government workers who will get a pension from a job not covered by Social Security, this column is for you. It explains the rules that may require a reduction to any Social Security benefits you might have earned while working at jobs where you did pay into Social Security. And it also ...Read more

Social Security and You: Widow Should Have Switched

I am going to share an email exchange I had with a reader that went on for the past couple of months. This woman's Social Security saga could be a lesson for other readers. It started a few months ago with this email.

Reader's first email: "I started taking Social Security when I was 62. I am now 79 years old. I don't get much money. My monthly...Read more

Social Security and You: The Power of Delete

I've found the "delete" button on my keyboard, and I'm using it all the time now. And what a relief it is! Allow me to explain.

I worked for the Social Security Administration for 32 years, and I've been writing this column for 17 years. And over all those decades, I have encountered thousands of Social Security naysayers, liars and ...Read more

Sometimes Life, Not Social Security, Is Confusing

Almost every day, I get emails from readers that include a statement along these lines: "Social Security sure is confusing." Or, "Why did the government have to make Social Security laws so complex?"

To be sure, there are more than a few rules and regulations within the Social Security program that can bewilder folks from time to time. If there...Read more

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