I've learned over the years that lots of people get hung up on the lexicon of Social Security. I will use a Social Security-related word or phrase in a column without giving it too much thought. And the next thing I know, there are emails in my inbox taking me to task for supposedly getting or saying something wrong. Here are a few examples.
About a month ago, I wrote a column explaining what family members need to do when a loved one who was getting Social Security benefits dies. I primarily discussed what might need to be done about returning the last Social Security check (depending on the timing of the death). I also used that column to help a surviving spouse know what possible...Read more
Well, I just spent another day answering emails from relatively well-to-do readers who want to know how to squeeze every last nickel out of their Social Security benefits. As someone who never really fixated on the accumulation of wealth, I've always wondered if all of this money they were trying to bleed out of the system was going to buy them ...Read more
I usually devote an entire column to just one subject so that I can thoroughly cover all the nuances. But today I'm going to go for a record. I will see if I can answer a dozen questions in the limited space I have. Obviously, the answers will be short and to the point.
Q: If I wait until 70 to file for Social Security, will my wife's eventual ...Read more
There are about 60,000 Social Security Administration employees around the country. More than a few of them read my column. And I've learned over the years that they have differing opinions of the job I do. Today, I will share a couple of recent emails, voicing opposite reactions to my column.
Q: I am a field rep for SSA. I want to tell you ...Read more
I was answering emails from my readers today. And after a while, it dawned on me that three or four of them in a row began with some version of "My neighbor told me this" or "Some friends told me that." Each email went on to describe an unsubstantiated rumor about Social Security. I began each answer with the same phrase: "That is absolutely not...Read more
Baby boomers (like me) aren't just getting old. Some of us are also getting frail. I'm a pretty good example. After a lifetime of essentially good health (I was once honored for using the fewest sick leave days by my former employer, the Social Security Administration), in the past few years, I've had to deal with issues as minor as a bum knee ...Read more
I pride myself on being able to give my readers the rationale behind various Social Security rules and regulations. Many times, readers will send me emails in which they express utter befuddlement at a law or regulation that affects their eligibility for Social Security. It's usually a situation that results in them getting reduced benefits. And...Read more
I worry that I sometimes neglect a significant cohort of my readers. I get so many emails from people for whom their Social Security checks are just the icing on their retirement cakes. For example, they tell me that they want to delay starting their benefits as long as possible because they have other investments or savings to keep them ...Read more
My wife used to thank me, with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek, for never being rich. She would say, "It seems to me that the more money people have, the more they worry about it."
And gosh, did those words of wisdom come home to me these past couple of weeks, following yet another column I wrote about the maximizing Social Security ...Read more
Why do some people feel the need to voice opinions about subjects they know little to nothing about? Almost daily, for the past 22 years that I've been writing this column, I get emails from people voicing opinions about Social Security that are ill-informed -- and often, downright wacky. It surprises and even saddens me that people who hold ...Read more
Q: I will turn 64 this month. I retired in December. My Social Security benefit is projected to be $927 at age 64. If I wait until 66, I would get $1,066. And if I wait until age 70, I would get $1,407. And there is an additional complication. My husband is 82. He has been getting benefits since he was 66 -- $2,388. He is in very poor health. ...Read more
Anyone turning 66 this year who has a spouse already collecting Social Security or who is potentially eligible for benefits should consider jumping through the loophole that slams shut in 2020. Or to be more precise, the loophole that closes for anyone turning 66 in January 2020 or later.
What's the loophole? It's the rule that allows 66-year-...Read more