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Dozens of variables decide quantity of Social Safety test

Share this…FacebookPinterestTwitterLinkedin A number of weeks in the past, I wrote a column explaining advantages which are payable to spouses….

By Staff , in Social Security , at May 23, 2021

A number of weeks in the past, I wrote a column explaining advantages which are payable to spouses. And by spouses, I nearly all the time am referring to a spouse and the advantages she is perhaps due on her husband’s Social Safety file.

Every time I write such a column, my inbox is instantly flooded with emails from ladies who assume they’re being cheated out of spousal advantages. Someway, they all the time misinterpret what I’ve written. They assume I’m saying that each lady ought to be getting her personal Social Safety advantages and one thing further off her husband’s file.

That’s NOT what I’m saying. In reality, often simply the other is true. If you’re a lady who has labored most of her life, it’s extremely doubtless that after you attain retirement age, you’ll simply get your individual Social Safety profit. You gained’t be due something in your husband’s file – no less than whereas he’s alive. Whereas he’s alive and kicking, you’re both due your individual retirement profit or a small proportion (between 30% and 50%) of your husband’s profit, whichever pays extra. Virtually all the time, your individual profit pays greater than that small proportion of his.

For instance, one lady wrote to inform me that primarily based on my latest column, she was satisfied she wasn’t getting sufficient from Social Safety. She mentioned she took advantages at 62 and will get $622 per thirty days. She mentioned her husband will get $1,510 per thirty days. She claims my column mentioned she ought to be getting half of his profit, or $755.

If she had learn my column extra fastidiously, she would have understood {that a} spouse will get the 50% charge provided that she waits till her full retirement age to assert advantages. However she took advantages at 62. So, she isn’t due half of her husband’s profit. She is simply due about 30% of it. And 30% of his $1,510 charge is round $503. Her personal $622 profit is far more than that. So, she just isn’t due any spousal advantages.

As soon as her husband dies, it’s a unique story. A widow’s profit will be as a lot as 100% of his Social Safety charge if she is over her full retirement age when he dies. In order that lady would begin getting $1,510 when her husband passes away.

However advantages for widows is a narrative for one more column. At the moment, I’m concentrating on advantages you’re due out of your still-breathing husband. To repeat: In case you have your individual Social Safety profit, you doubtless will not be due something from his file.

Having made that time, I need to admit that there are ladies whose personal Social Safety profit is so low and their husband’s profit is so excessive that they’ll get some further spousal advantages. In case your husband was already getting Social Safety advantages on the time you filed in your personal advantages, the Social Safety Administration would have routinely checked out his file to see should you had been due something. In case your husband filed later, the SSA additionally ought to have checked at the moment to see should you had been due further spousal advantages. For those who don’t assume they did that, then name the SSA at 800-772-1213 to confirm.

This complete matter of ladies pondering they need to be getting further spousal advantages brings up a associated challenge. Based mostly on my 32 years of expertise working for the Social Safety Administration and the 24 years I’ve been penning this column, I can let you know that the No. 1 criticism I hear from individuals – by far – is that this: “I don’t assume I get the best Social Safety profit quantity. I ought to get extra!”

Maybe unsurprisingly, not as soon as previously 4 a long time has anybody advised me that she or he was getting an excessive amount of cash! I assume that’s simply human nature. Individuals are likely to consider they’re being cheated out of one thing that everybody else is getting.

I feel this phenomenon generally outcomes when senior residents begin speaking and evaluating authorities profit quantities. The particular person getting much less inevitably feels as if she or he has been left holding the brief finish of the Social Safety stick. What they don’t perceive is that there are dozens of variables that decide the quantity of a Social Safety test – issues like date of delivery, earnings historical past, your age whenever you filed for advantages, early retirement reductions, late retirement bonuses, and so on.

Readers who observe this column know that I’m usually crucial of the SSA and the service the group offers. However I can let you know there may be one factor they’re excellent at: The SSA could be very cautious and really correct about calculating Social Safety advantages. There have been numerous research accomplished by Congress and different oversight businesses in regards to the accuracy of Social Safety funds. The research present that SSA pays the best profit quantity one thing like 99% of the time.

I ought to make clear that I’m speaking in regards to the accuracy of the preliminary calculation of an individual’s fundamental Social Safety profit quantity. Individuals getting ongoing Social Safety checks will be paid incorrectly every now and then. However that’s often as a result of the SSA has defective data. For instance, an individual who’s working and making greater than the earnings penalty restrict fails to tell the federal government of his or her revenue, leading to advantages being paid that weren’t due. These sorts of “overpayments” are frequent. However the particular person’s fundamental Social Safety profit quantity continues to be correct.

Right here’s a latest query I obtained from a reader: “I’m 82 years previous. My spouse is 80. I’m getting much less cash from Social Safety than any of our pals. And my spouse doesn’t get any advantages on my file, however all the opposite ladies we all know get their husband’s Social Safety. How can we get this corrected?”

I answered this particular person by saying there may be most likely nothing to appropriate. As I discussed above, there are dozens of various explanation why the advantages you get are completely different than what your folks get. Apart from, the time to query the accuracy of your Social Safety checks is after they first begin. That’s when you may have a proper enchantment interval to request a assessment of your declare. There isn’t any level in questioning it 20 years later. But when that is going to proceed to hassle you, you could possibly name the SSA at 800-772-1213 and hope you discover a pleasant agent who will go over all of your data with you.

In case you have a Social Safety query, Tom Margenau has a e-book with all of the solutions. It’s known as Social Safety: Easy and Sensible. You could find the e-book at Or search for it on Amazon or different e-book retailers. To search out out extra about Tom Margenau and to learn previous columns, go to the Creators Syndicate web site at

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