Benefits for Spouses and Widows Are Sometimes Controversial
I'm going to start out today's column by answering a question from a reader about her potential eligibility for benefits from one of her prior husbands' Social Security accounts. I am going to follow that up with typical comments I always get from other readers who are critical of ...Read more
Anyone who has read my column for any length of time knows that I have occasionally been critical of some of my former colleagues at the Social Security Administration for misleading people with misinformation about Social Security programs and policies.
But I totally understand that, many times, people who tell me they have been misled by an ...Read more
Q: I keep hearing all this talk about how the COVID-19 virus is going to reduce future Social Security benefits. But I can't figure out why. Can you explain it to me?
A: I'll give it a shot. But before I do, let me make a couple of important points. First, if the virus affects anyone's Social Security, it probably will be just a small cohort of...Read more
Q. I am a retired federal employee. I retired when I was 58. I started getting my federal retirement and Social Security at that time. I am about to turn 62. I was told that I have to contact a Social Security office and get my benefit changed. Can you explain that?
A. I'm going to start out by giving you half an answer. Then I'm going to give ...Read more
Q: In a recent column, you said that someone's Social Security check might go down if they are still working while getting Social Security checks. You must be talking about taxes, because my husband is 69 and still working, and he gets an increase every year in his benefits. So, can you please clarify things for us?
A: You've probably heard the...Read more
My wife and I have been doing a little downsizing lately. One thing we decided we can live without is the rather large collection of books we've accumulated over the past 46 years. We are donating most of them to our local library. But as I looked through the old books, I reread one of them, and it struck a chord with me. It's an autobiography ...Read more
As regular readers of this column know, every once in a while, I try to squeeze as many questions and answers as I can into one column. And several weeks ago, I did just that. But I knew ahead of time it would cause problems. Why? Because there can be so many "ifs ands or buts" associated with Social Security's rules. And when I try to keep my ...Read more
At least once a day, I get one or more emails that start out with some form of this phrase: "I'll tell you what's wrong with Social Security!" And then they go on from there to trot out time-worn arguments that have been bandied about for years and are usually groundless.
One of the more common gripes goes like this: "I'll tell you what's wrong...Read more
There is a provision of Social Security law that is rather archaically called the "annual earnings test." It is sometimes also called the "retirement test." (More about where those terms come from in a minute.) But I call it the Social Security earnings penalty. And I've never liked this law. Before I explain why, let me clarify what I am ...Read more
I've been writing this column and answering people's questions about Social Security for more than 20 years. And more often than not, I've been answering the same questions over and over again. And I really don't mind that because I understand there are always new people reading this column who haven't seen the answers before. Other people have ...Read more
Q: You always seem to write about married women. But there are a lot of us divorced women out here. We need to know about Social Security, too. So, what can you tell us?
A: I can tell you several things. One: I've answered many questions from divorced women in this column. Maybe you just didn't see them. And two: With just a couple of ...Read more
I am continually amazed by the number of emails I get with questions about Social Security from people who don't even pay into the system. Who are these folks? They are primarily teachers in some states and police officers and firefighters in other states. A lot of these employees are covered by other retirement plans and not by Social Security....Read more
I'm going to assume you've all heard of the kids' game "20 Questions." Well, I'm going to do my own version of that today. I'm going to try to squeeze 20 questions into this column. To do that, my answers must be short and sweet.
Q: I just inherited some property that is worth $40,000. If I sell that property, will I lose my Social Security ...Read more