Senior Living


Health & Spirit

Social Security and You: Extra Earnings Don't Always Translate to Extra Benefits

Q: I know my Social Security benefits will be based on my last five years of earnings before I retire. But here is the problem. I am 60 years old and have just been laid off by my employer. I have few if any prospects of getting another job. I plan to sign up for my Social Security when I am 62. But two of my last five years will have no ...Read more

Social Security and You: Punished and Shortchanged for Years, What's the Answer?

Q: I am 82 years old, and I have had a problem for decades with the Social Security Administration. And as a result, they have been shortchanging me for years. Here is the story. I contacted them in 1992 for a printout of my work history and found a "zero" for my 1960 earnings. I actually made about $1,200 that year.

They told me that if I ...Read more

The So-Called 'New' Rules Are Actually the Old Rules

There is just so darn much misinformation out there about new Social Security rules. These rules have to do with the eventual elimination of the maximizing strategies known as "file and restrict" and "file and suspend." Every single day, I get emails from readers who are panicking because they think they have to make some crucial Social Security...Read more

Social Security and You: How to Deal With the Social Security Earnings Penalties

I've gotten more than a few emails recently from Social Security beneficiaries who are under age 66 and still working and who are trapped in the web of Social Security's convoluted earnings penalty rules and the way they are administered. Those rules are some of the messiest provisions in government and cause countless headaches to both Social ...Read more

Social Security and You: Long Gone Husband May Mean Extra Social Security to Some

I gave a couple women very nice Christmas presents over the recent holiday season. And I'm not talking about the lingerie I got my wife or the coffee maker I got my daughter. I'm talking about the gift of extra Social Security benefits I got for two of my readers.

I don't want to imply that I have some kind of "in" with my former colleagues at ...Read more

Social Security and You: The Lights Are Still Shining Brightly at SSA

The LAbout a month ago, I wrote a column about possible declining service at the Social Security Administration. I pointed out that I get frequent emails from readers who complain about overflowing waiting rooms, generally unpleasant surroundings, and overall poor service following a visit to the Social Security office. And I get many more ...Read more

Social Security and You: Questions About Widower Benefits

Q: Can a widower get benefits in the same way a widow gets benefits? In the community where I live, I know lots of widows and widowers. Most of the widows are getting their husband's Social Security. But I don't know of any widowers who get their wife's Social Security.

A: Social Security rules are gender neutral. So a widower could qualify for...Read more

Social Security and You: January Often the Best Month to File

I write a column similar to this one about this time every year. But I don't mind plagiarizing myself because it contains a very important message for people planning to retire in 2016.

January is a critical month for the hundreds of thousands of potential Social Security beneficiaries who are reaching 66 (their so-called full retirement age) ...Read more

Social Security and You: Update for 2016

It has been my custom for most of the last 18 years to write a year-end column that summarizes the Social Security changes and updates scheduled to take place the following year. Usually, that means I give the planned Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) amounts, along with other revisions that are based on increases to the government's inflation ...Read more

Social Security and You: Have the Lights Gone Out at SSA?

I have a friend who, like me, is a retired Social Security Administration employee. But we are different in that I retired more than 10 years ago, whereas he just walked out the office door for the last time earlier this year. We like to commiserate about old times and share war stories about all of our years in the public service trenches. And ...Read more

Social Security and You: Taxation Benefits -- I'm Not Your Guy!

I get lots of questions from my readers about their potential tax liabilities with respect to their Social Security benefits. I rarely answer such questions because I'm not qualified to do so. I spent my entire career working for the Social Security Administration. SSA's job is to maintain earnings records for workers and then to pay monthly ...Read more

Social Security and You: Working Seniors May Get Social Security Increase

I get lots of questions from working senior citizens who wonder if the Social Security payroll taxes they are paying will increase their Social Security checks. I usually flippantly say that if you are serving as a greeter at Wal-Mart or slinging fries at McDonalds, you won't see an increase. But if you are working at a job earning a decent wage...Read more

Social Security and You: Three Reasons to Switch to Your Own Social Security

Q: I am about to turn 70, and I'm still working. When I was 66, I filed for widow's benefits on my husband's record. At the time, my own retirement benefit was less than my husband's rate. My plan was to let mine build up over time, hoping that by age 70, my rate would be higher than the widow's benefit I'm getting. But I checked with the Social...Read more

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