Q: I think you made an error in a recent column. You said anyone can file for Social Security benefits online. But when I tried to file for widow's benefits online, I learned that I could not do that. Were you wrong?
A: Yes, I was. I checked, and sure enough, a widow must file a claim in person either by phone or at her local Social Security ...Read more
Usually, I like to focus my column around one topic. But today I'll just open up my email inbox and pull out a hodgepodge of questions.
Q: I am 64 years old. I plan to start my Social Security at age 66. My husband is 62 and has been getting Social Security disability benefits for several years. His benefit rate is higher than mine will be by $...Read more
We all know that the internet can be a force for good -- spreading knowledge and education to people around the world. But sadly, it also can be an instrument of insanity -- a tool that can be corrupted by con artists to spread lies and half-truths to an easy-to-fool public.
I am reminded of this almost daily when people send me emails with ...Read more
I get lots of questions about widow's benefits. And surprisingly, most of them come from men concerned about the benefits their wives will get after they die. Here are some examples.
Q: I waited until I was 70 to start my Social Security. Those benefits just kicked in last month. I did that for two reasons: to maximize my retirement benefits ...Read more
I've saved up a bunch of questions that have to do with applying for various kinds of Social Security benefits. Frankly, I think of most of them as rather elementary. But then I remind myself that I've dealt with Social Security issues almost every day of my life for the past 45 years. And most of my readers deal with the program, at least in a ...Read more
It's time for me to dust off and update a column I write every five years or so about Social Security myths. I could write a book called "The Top 100 Social Security Myths." But I'm having too much fun taking bike rides with my wife and playing Scrabble with her on the back porch to spend time doing that. So instead, I'll just take an hour or so...Read more
Q: I think you covered this issue in a past column. But I'm still confused. I will turn 66 on Aug. 28, 2018. I want to start my Social Security then. And because I know that Social Security checks come one month behind, I understand that the first check I will be due will come in September. So when I sign up for Social Security, do I tell them I...Read more
Q: My dad is 90 years old and I help him with medical appointments and managing important business affairs. We went to our local Social Security office to change dad's address. While there, I asked to be added to dad's account so that I can make inquiries on his behalf. The clerk signed me up to be his "representative payee." Then a few weeks ...Read more
All of today's questions involve the payment of what are known as "delayed retirement credits." This is an incentive built into the law that augments the monthly Social Security checks of anyone who delays claiming Social Security benefits beyond their normal full retirement age. The maximum extra credit is 32 percent for people who wait until ...Read more
Before I get to today's question, I must give some background information on the topic at hand -- and that is the so-called maximizing strategy that many people mistakenly call "file and suspend." What they usually mean is the strategy called "file and restrict." And it's not just a matter of semantics. I will explain.
A Social Security law ...Read more
Q: I am 66 years old, and I get my own small Social Security retirement benefit. Because it is so small, I get some additional spousal benefits off my husband's record. I am still working. I just got a letter from the Social Security Administration telling me that my retirement benefit is being increased by $20 per month because of my most ...Read more
Q: My wife and I both turn 66 later this year. (Our birthdays are just two days apart.) I've worked all my life and expect to get a full retirement benefit of about $2,600 per month. My wife has been a homemaker all her life and has no Social Security account of her own. So she will only be due a spouse's benefit on my record. I am thinking of ...Read more
Q: My daughter recently had problems with a stolen purse and with someone possibly using her Social Security number. She went to the Social Security office and she was told to contact credit reporting agencies and possibly the police. And they gave her some website to look up. It seems to me they should have done more. Can't they just cancel her...Read more