Q: I was getting my own Social Security. Then my husband died and they started paying me his Social Security and took away my own. But why did they do that? Aren't they two separate benefits and I deserve both?
A: The law says if you are due two different Social Security benefits, you don't get them both. You only get the one that pays the ...Read more
A nasty and pernicious blog that is full of lies about Social Security has been floating around the internet for years. The latest version is called "Who took my money?" It claims to be bipartisan, but using one lie after another, it blames the Democrats for all of Social Security's perceived problems. Let me address the allegations one by one. ...Read more
Q: I am a single woman who is going to be 70 on Nov. 10, 2018. I have been waiting until I turn 70 to collect my Social Security because so many people have told me that's how I will get the maximum Social Security benefit. I am trying to fill out my application online and am confused. It is giving me options when to start. It said I could start...Read more
I get dozens of emails each week from people who are getting advice from friends and neighbors about Social Security. And so often, what they hear from these probably well-intentioned folks is wrong. I've saved up some examples and will share them with you today.
Q: I took my Social Security at 62 and so did my husband. We are now in our early ...Read more
There are several key factors that make you eligible for Social Security benefits and help determine the amount of money you are due. One of the most important is your date of birth. Because you have to be a precise age to qualify for retirement benefits (e.g., 66 for full benefits or 62 for reduced benefits), you have to prove your date of ...Read more
Q: My husband and I got married 30 years ago. About 25 years ago, we got a divorce. But a year and a half later, almost on a whim, we got remarried. But we never got any kind of papers from the minister who remarried us. Frankly, I'm not really sure he was an actual minister. Is this going to be a problem now that we are about to turn 62 and ...Read more
Q: I am 73 years old. I never signed up for Social Security, because I just never needed it. I am fortunate enough to be independently wealthy. I inherited a multimillion-dollar business from my father, who had inherited it from his father. We have way more than enough money to live comfortably for the rest of our lives, and to provide nest eggs...Read more
Q: Recently, I was listening to a radio program in which the host described Social Security as a welfare program. He said millions of people are getting benefits they never paid for and don't deserve. I'd like to get your opinion on this. Is Social Security welfare?
A: Well, I guess it all depends on how you define "welfare." If you mean it in ...Read more
Q: Whenever you mention the reduction for early retirement, you always say it is "about one half of 1 percent." So what is it? Is it one half of 1 percent? Or is it something else? Why the ambiguity?
A: In this case, I think my ambiguous answer is better than the facts. And the facts are these: Retirement benefits are reduced five-ninths of 1 ...Read more
Q: My ex-wife was getting divorced spouse benefits on my account. She recently died. How do I go about getting her benefits added back into my account?
A: There is nothing to add back to your account. Social Security benefits paid to divorced spouses, and for that matter, benefits paid to any dependent spouse or child, are merely add-on ...Read more
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