Around this year's Thanksgiving holiday, I'm going to suggest that we Americans give thanks for the Social Security program. I know lots of people like to think that the "good old days" (before Social Security) were, well, good old days. But many times, they were not. And if you'd like to get a glimpse of what life was like before the Social ...Read more
I was playing one of my morning online word puzzles when up popped a little blurb from a senior citizen advocacy group announcing that the Supplemental Security Income program has recently turned 50 years old. I'm sure most people who see a reference to SSI would say something like "Supplemental Security what?" And that's because SSI is not very...Read more
I frequently get emails from readers who turn a little molehill of an issue into a big mountain of a problem, and it has to do with the starting date for their Social Security benefits. The Social Security retirement application asks a question that goes something like this: "Which month do you want your benefits to start?" Way too many folks ...Read more
I really get upset when readers tell me that they talked to a Social Security Administration employee hoping to get an understanding of some confusing Social Security rule and the only reply they got was this: "It's the law." In my opinion, that's a bad answer. People should be given a reason why a particular Social Security law exists in the ...Read more
Q: My husband is a 58-year-old farmer. He is a very stubborn man. He is opposed to paying any kind of federal taxes, including Social Security taxes. He will do anything near the end of a year to show a loss on his farm. He will buy equipment. He will buy seed or fertilizer. He will do whatever it takes so he can show a loss on his tax return ...Read more
In mid-October every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its much-anticipated report on changes (usually increases) to the Consumer Price Index over the past 12 months. Why is this little, esoteric government report -- actually called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers -- so popular? Because for the ...Read more
In the last month or so, I've written two columns about Social Security "news" articles I've seen in various publications with misleading headlines that are intended to lure you into reading the rest of the story. What's contained in the article is never as dramatic or newsworthy as the exaggerated headline would indicate.
These Social Security...Read more
Because I've been writing this column for about a quarter-century now, you probably can guess that there are questions I've been asked hundreds (if not thousands) of times during the past 25 years. And I don't think there is a single Social Security-related question I've never been asked. But it dawned on me as I was answering my emails this ...Read more
I've just released a new book. It's called "Social Security: 100 Myths and 100 Facts." You can get a hard copy of the book for less than 10 bucks at Amazon.com. You can get an electronic version of the book at barnesandnoble.com and other online booksellers.
Regular readers of this column may recall that I have written dozens of past columns ...Read more
People who delay starting their Social Security beyond their full retirement age get a bonus equal to two-thirds of 1% added to their Social Security checks for each month they wait to begin benefits. If your full retirement age is 66, that comes out to a 32% bonus if you wait until age 70 to file for benefits. If your full retirement age is 67,...Read more
There is a little-known Social Security rule that may help some people who started their Social Security checks before full retirement age and therefore took a reduction in their monthly benefits, but then decided to return to work. Now they wonder if their early retirement reduction is permanent. The answer is it might not be. And that's ...Read more
About a month or so ago, I wrote a column in which I just briefly mentioned that any plans to privatize Social Security would never work, and I said I had covered that topic in prior columns. Well, several readers told me they didn't remember those older columns (the latest was about 4 years ago) and they asked me to address the topic again. So,...Read more