There are many ins and outs of Social Security and I want to help you stay on top of them (without boring you with a pile of information). Here are easy explanations of two topics that can help you make the most of your benefits:
Where’s my social security statement?
Remember when you used to get a statement each year a few months before your birthday from the Social Security Administration (SSA)? Well if you haven’t seen it in a while that’s because the SSA stopped mailing to most folks back in 2011 (at a savings of $70M).
The SSA will begin mailing benefit statements every 5 years to those who haven’t signed up for online statements (those already receiving benefits get an annual statement). The statements will be sent out at age 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 55 and 60. If you haven’t checked out the SSA web site, I suggest doing so: www.ssa.gov. You may receive your statement, project future benefit amounts, as well as learn more about one of the nation’s largest expenditures.
Widowed? Research suggest that you might not be getting your fair share
According to a recent report from the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, as many as one third of spouses age 70 and older are not getting the maximum social security benefit. The issue arises when a spouse initially receives “widow” benefits as early as age 60 (benefits based on your spouse’s earnings) and then later is eligible based on their own earnings record for a higher amount. As an example, Jan’s husband Paul passed away and Jan decided to begin receiving a widow’s benefit at age 60. At age 62-70 Jan may switch to benefits based on her earnings record if they are higher. Jan will need to be proactive as the SSA will not inform Jan if she is eligible for a higher amount. When in doubt – call the SSA and give them your social security number and the social security number of your spouse to learn about all of your options.
Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD is the Managing Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and is a frequent contributor to national media including appearances on Good Morning America Weekend Edition and WDIV Channel 4 News and published articles including Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. A leader in his profession, Tim served on the National Board of Directors for the 28,000 member Financial Planning Association™ (FPA®), trained and mentored hundreds of CFP® practitioners and is a frequent speaker to organizations and businesses on various financial planning topics.
The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. C14-011440