I continuously hear from readers who inform me that they contacted the Social Security Administration with the intention of submitting for Social Security advantages of 1 type or one other after which have been both instructed they weren’t eligible for any advantages or have been simply in any other case talked out of submitting.
In fact, generally that’s good recommendation. For instance, if you’re 62 years outdated and nonetheless working full time and making $75,000 per yr, and also you name the SSA to file for retirement advantages, the rep could be appropriate in telling you that you just aren’t eligible for advantages till you retire or attain your full retirement age, whichever comes first.
Or if you’re a 58-year-old girl whose husband has died and also you name the SSA to file for widows advantages, they need to let you know that you just have to be not less than 60 years outdated earlier than you may get such advantages.
However generally, the circumstances will not be so lower and dried. And due to that, right here is the message of at this time’s column: If you happen to assume you might be probably eligible for Social Security advantages, you’ve got each proper to file for no matter advantages you assume you might be due. So, each time there’s any doubt about your eligibility, at all times demand to file a declare.
By doing so, you accomplish two issues. One, you’ll get a authorized determination about your eligibility for advantages, and never only one Social Security clerk’s opinion. (Or, for that matter, one Social Security columnist’s opinion.) And two, you’ll have attraction rights. In different phrases, in case your declare is denied and you continue to aren’t glad, you possibly can ask that your declare be reviewed. You even may take all of it the best way to the Supreme Courtroom should you needed to!
That final remark is a bit far-fetched (though possible). Nonetheless, the essential level I’m making may be very legitimate. If a Social Security consultant simply says “no” and also you stroll away and later study you have been due advantages, you usually received’t have the ability to do something about it however gripe—after which file a declare with no retroactivity. However should you really file a declare the primary time and it’s denied and also you later are capable of show your eligibility, you’ll get full retroactive advantages to the date you filed the declare.
So, that’s the general message to everybody studying this column: At all times demand to file a declare for advantages should you assume you would possibly probably be due them—it doesn’t matter what a Social Security agent tells you. And particularly accomplish that should you get totally different solutions from totally different SSA representatives. (Sadly, I hear the latter criticism far too usually from far too lots of my readers.)
Now, listed below are some questions from readers that illustrate what I’m speaking about.
Q: I’m 68 years outdated and get a small Social Security retirement test. My first husband and I have been married for 30 years. Nevertheless it was an abusive relationship, and I divorced him about 5 years in the past. Three years in the past, I married an exquisite man. However sadly, he died final month. Once I referred to as the Social Security workplace to file for widows advantages, the clerk instructed me we needed to be married not less than 10 years, so she stated I wasn’t due something. She helped me file for the $255 dying profit, and that’s all I bought. However recently, some mates instructed me I ought to be getting widows advantages. What ought to I do?
A: Except I’m lacking among the details, you got bum recommendation by the Social Security rep. The ten-year period of marriage rule applies solely to divorced spouses. So, assuming your second husband’s profit fee was greater than you might be getting by yourself, it certain sounds to me like you might be due widows advantages. You need to name the SSA again and instantly file a declare.
Q: I’m 62 years outdated. I referred to as Social Security’s 800 quantity and instructed them I needed to file for my Social Security advantages. I run my very own enterprise, however I plan to show it over to my spouse (not less than on paper) and pay myself a wage of $18,000 per yr, so I will likely be beneath the Social Security earnings restrict and thus eligible for my month-to-month checks. The phone rep I talked to instructed me I used to be eligible for advantages, and she or he set me up for a telephone interview with somebody at my native Social Security workplace. However when the native workplace consultant referred to as me, he stated I used to be not eligible for advantages and terminated the interview. Do I’ve any recourse?
A: Effectively, you might be treading a advantageous Social Security eligibility line. Up to now, the principles have been fairly stringent. You wouldn’t have been capable of merely flip the enterprise over to your spouse on paper and pay your self a minimal wage after which anticipate to gather Social Security retirement advantages. However just lately, the SSA has eased up on these guidelines, and now you might be eligible. Once more, the one method you will see out for certain is to file a declare.
Q: I’m 68 years outdated. I’ve but to join Social Security. My spouse simply turned 62, and she or he just lately filed for her personal advantages. Buddies instructed me I can make use of the “file and droop” technique and acquire advantages on my spouse’s account and, at 70, swap to my very own advantages. However after I referred to as Social Security’s 800 quantity, the agent instructed me that I may not file and droop. However in a current column, you stated I may (if I learn it proper). So, what ought to I do?
A: You misinterpret my column and confused the SSA rep since you are utilizing the flawed time period. You do not need to file and droop. That maximizing technique has been eradicated. (So, I received’t trouble explaining what it means.) What you wish to do is “file and prohibit.” That technique continues to be out there to anybody who was born earlier than Jan. 2, 1954. It means you possibly can file for spousal advantages in your spouse’s file after which, at 70, swap to 132 % of your personal profit. So, name the SSA again and demand on submitting a declare. And simply to make sure, right here is the exact phrasing you need to use. Inform them you wish to file a Social Security declare, however say, “I wish to prohibit that declare to spousal advantages on my spouse’s file so I can swap to my very own retirement advantages at 70.”
Tom Margenau labored for 32 years in quite a lot of positions for the Social Security Administration earlier than retiring in 2005. He has served because the director of SSA’s public info workplace, the chief editor of greater than 100 SSA publications, a deputy press officer and spokesman, and a speechwriter for the commissioner of Social Security. For 12 years, he additionally wrote Social Security columns for native newspapers, and just lately printed the guide “Social Security: Easy and Good.” When you have a Social Security query, contact him at [email protected]