I steadily hear from readers who inform me that they contacted the Social Security Administration with the intention of submitting for Social Security advantages of 1 variety 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 For instance, if you’re 62 years outdated and nonetheless working full time and making $75,000 per 12 months, and also you name the SSA to file for retirement advantages, the rep can be right in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name the SSA to file for widows advantages, they need to inform you that you simply have to be a minimum of 60 years outdated earlier than you may get such advantages.
However generally, the circumstances will not be so reduce and dried. And due to that, right here is the message of at present’s column: In case you suppose you’re probably eligible for Social Security advantages, you’ve got each proper to file for no matter advantages you suppose you’re due. So, each time there may be any doubt about your eligibility, all the time 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 happy, you possibly can ask that your declare be reviewed. You even might take all of it the best way to the Supreme Courtroom in case 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 be capable of do something about it however gripe—after which file a declare with no retroactivity. However in case 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: All the time demand to file a declare for advantages in case you suppose you may probably be due them—it doesn’t matter what a Social Security agent tells you. And particularly achieve this in case you get completely different solutions from completely different SSA representatives. (Sadly, I hear the latter criticism far too typically from far too a lot of my readers.)
Now, listed here 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 verify. My first husband and I have been married for 30 years. But it surely was an abusive relationship, and I divorced him about 5 years in the past. Three years in the past, I married a beautiful man. However sadly, he died final month. After I known as the Social Security workplace to file for widows advantages, the clerk instructed me we needed to be married a minimum of 10 years, so she stated I wasn’t due something. She helped me file for the $255 dying profit, and that’s all I acquired. However currently, some mates instructed me I ought to be getting widows advantages. What ought to I do?
A: Until I’m lacking among the info, you got bum recommendation by the Social Security rep. The ten-year length of marriage rule applies solely to divorced spouses. So, assuming your second husband’s profit price was greater than you’re getting by yourself, it positive sounds to me like you’re due widows advantages. You need to name the SSA again and instantly file a declare.
Q: I’m 62 years outdated. I known 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 (a minimum of on paper) and pay myself a wage of $18,000 per 12 months, so I might be below 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 cellphone interview with somebody at my native Social Security workplace. However when the native workplace consultant known as me, he stated I used to be not eligible for advantages and terminated the interview. Do I’ve any recourse?
A: Properly, you’re treading a wonderful Social Security eligibility line. Prior to now, the foundations 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 not too long ago, the SSA has eased up on these guidelines, and now chances are you’ll be eligible. Once more, the one means you’ll discover out for positive is to file a declare.
Q: I’m 68 years outdated. I’ve but to enroll in Social Security. My spouse simply turned 62, and she or he not too long ago filed for her personal advantages. Pals instructed me I can make use of the “file and droop” technique and gather advantages on my spouse’s account and, at 70, change to my very own advantages. However after I known as Social Security’s 800 quantity, the agent instructed me that I might now not file and droop. However in a latest column, you stated I might (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 fallacious time period. You don’t want to file and droop. That maximizing technique has been eradicated. (So, I received’t trouble explaining what it means.) What you need to do is “file and prohibit.” That technique remains to be obtainable 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, change to 132 p.c of your personal profit. So, name the SSA again and demand on submitting a declare. And simply to make certain, right here is the exact phrasing it’s best to use. Inform them you need to file a Social Security declare, however say, “I need to prohibit that declare to spousal advantages on my spouse’s file so I can change to my very own retirement advantages at 70.”
Tom Margenau labored for 32 years in a wide range of positions for the Social Security Administration earlier than retiring in 2005. He has served because the director of SSA’s public data 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 not too long ago printed the e book “Social Security: Easy and Sensible.” When you have a Social Security query, contact him at [email protected]