Social Security and You: Change Is Nothing New to Social Security
THE 1961 SOCIAL SECURITY AMENDMENTS
Finally, Congress authorized reduced retirement benefits to men. These changes also provided for reduced benefits for dependent widowers between ages 62 and 64.
THE 1965 SOCIAL SECURITY AMENDMENTS
For the first time, benefits were offered to divorced wives if they were at least 62 years old and if they had been married for at least 20 years. (The 1950 amendments had provided benefits only for divorced widows.) The 1965 amendments also added the Medicare program. But Medicare is NOT a Social Security program, and an entirely separate funding mechanism was established for these health care benefits, so I am not including Medicare changes in the rest of this column.
THE 1972 SOCIAL SECURITY AMENDMENTS
The concept of a "delayed retirement bonus" was added for the first time to offer an incentive to workers who wait to file for retirement benefits until beyond age 65. Over the years, this bonus has been liberalized.
THE 1977 SOCIAL SECURITY AMENDMENTS
Congress closed a big loophole in Social Security law. A Social Security retirement pension had always offset any spousal benefits a retiree might be due on a husband's or wife's Social Security record. But folks getting non-Social Security retirement pensions (like many teachers and government employees) were still able to get such spousal benefits. Congress changed the law to treat teacher and government pensions in the same way as Social Security retirement pensions. Also this year, the length of marriage requirement for divorced spouses was lowered to 10 years.
1983 SOCIAL SECURITY AMENDMENTS
When these changes were implemented, the Social Security system was much closer to insolvency than it is today. These amendments bumped up the retirement age from 65 to 67. A minor tax increase was implemented, and Social Security benefit payments to children over age 18 were eliminated. Also, for the first time, Social Security benefits became taxable.
1996 SOCIAL SECURITY AMENDMENTS
The earnings penalty provisions were eliminated for anyone over full retirement age and were liberalized for people between age 62 and the FRA. Provisions in these amendments also led to the "file and suspend" and "restricted application" loopholes in the law -- discussed ad infinitum in this column. Those loopholes were closed several years ago by yet more amendments to the law.
If you have a Social Security question, Tom Margenau has two books with all the answers. One is called "Social Security -- Simple and Smart: 10 Easy-to-Understand Fact Sheets That Will Answer All Your Questions About Social Security." The other is "Social Security: 100 Myths and 100 Facts." You can find the books at Amazon.com or other book outlets. To find out more about Tom Margenau and to read past columns and see features from other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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