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Why Are You Recklessly Endangering This 69 12 months-Previous Widow’s Well being?

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By Staff , in Social Security , at November 16, 2021

I sense you, Performing Commissioner Kijakazi, really care concerning the individuals you serve. Kristin, a 69 year-old widow, solely out of the blue acquired a invoice from SSA demanding she repay $118,272 resulting from alleged overpayment of decreased extra widow’s advantages — advantages she by no means requested or acquired.

Expensive Performing Commissioner Kijakazi, certainly you aren’t new to your company’s follow of sending letters to the aged demanding they repay big sums to Social Security with no clear rationalization and, in far too many circumstances, due solely to errors made by your company. Certainly, your company’s follow on this regard is so horrific that it needs to be investigated by the Client Monetary Safety Bureau’s as the primary act of the brand new Commissioner, Rohit Chopra. Social Security is, in spite of everything, the most important or second largest monetary asset of most Individuals.

Performing Commissioner Kijakazi, I am asking you to learn the attendant letter despatched me by Kristin, a 69 year-old New York widow, who, in September, solely out of the blue, acquired a invoice from Social Security demanding she repay $118,272 in advantages resulting from alleged overpayment of decreased extra widow’s advantages — advantages she by no means requested and by no means acquired, as her financial institution statements, which document all Social Security wire receipts, clearly present.

I do know a good quantity about Social Security’s guidelines and laws. In 2015, I coauthored a New York Instances

bestselling e book (Get What’s Yours) on optimizing lifetime Social Security advantages. And I’ve produced lifetime Social Security maximizing software program (Maximize My Social Security) by way of my private monetary planning software program firm, Financial Security Planning, Inc, which I based in 1993. Kristen is a longtime shopper of my firm.

A month after Kristen’s husband handed in 2015, she acquired a bigger than anticipated test and instantly went to the Boulder, Co workplace, the place she was dwelling on the time, and instructed the employees that she had by no means filed for widow’s advantages and was deferring assortment of her widows advantages till full retirement age to be able to maximize their annual and lifelong values. In accordance with Social Security employees, your company has paperwork (which they, by the way, say they aren’t approved to convey) documenting this assembly and Kristen’s insistence that she had not filed for widow’s advantages and was ready till full retirement age to gather them.

Furthermore, the extra cost, if it was certainly an extra widows profit (it appears too small), stopped instantly after her assembly on the native workplace in Boulder. When she reached full retirement age, she did what she mentioned she would do and utilized for her unreduced widows profit. She then, appropriately, started receiving the mixture of her personal decreased retirement profit plus her extra widows profit. The 2 added as much as her full window’s profit.

All was advantageous till March of 2020 when she started to obtain one indecipherable letter after one other out of your company specifying small month-to-month profit changes. As indicated, the Social Security letter demanding $118,272 compensation arrived two months in the past with a requirement to repay the quantity instantly or have her month-to-month profit stopped for the following 26 years!

The letter, which I’ve examined, states, “We paid you an excessive amount of in advantages since you didn’t elect to obtain decreased widow advantages.” The second a part of this sentence is right. Kristen didn’t elect to obtain decreased widow advantages. The primary half is solely incorrect as a result of she by no means acquired decreased widow’s advantages. Your company can confirm this a matter of minutes by taking a look at your personal information or checking Kristen’s financial institution statements. However relatively than do your homework, you might have, beginning this month, eradicated her month-to-month profit. This has triggered a invoice from Medicare to pay her Half B premium.

Commissioner Kijakazi, I say in full candor that your company is fortunate to not have killed Kristen on the spot through a stroke. If this had been occurring to your mom, I dare say you’d be in addition to your self. However these Social Security system errors are occurring every day and are terrorizing hundreds of thousands of retirees who study of their incidence. I personally study of those circumstances on a routine foundation. I’ve written about a lot of them through the years. I’ve additionally helped in some circumstances to resolve the issue. Your senior employees is as involved with this downside as am I and does its greatest when it may. However the fundamental system is a monetary terror machine, which must be shut down till fastened.

Whether or not or not Social Security is in the best, which is unquestionably not the case in Kristin’s state of affairs, delivering information on this method, through indecipherable and, far too typically, partially or absolutely incorrect letters with quantities that change from week to week and with nobody to name to you get a straight reply, represents a merciless type of torture. I don’t fault you personally. You might be new to the job. However you could finish this follow. It’s certainly not one thing with which you wish to be related. Nor ought to the Social Security Administration, which has accomplished a lot good for therefore many individuals for therefore lengthy, proceed to be tainted by this shame.

I imagine that the company is now making an attempt to resolve Kristen’s state of affairs and restore her advantages. However she has been tortured lengthy sufficient, which is why I am writing to you publicly. Like most aged widows, she depends upon Social Security for her survival.

I intend to proceed writing publicly about Kristen’s case till it’s resolved. Your predecessors have left you with a dilapidated laptop system, which, sadly, engages in really evil acts with no human supervision. I notice you can’t repair all the things in a single day, however you’ll be able to start. And you may start by establishing an workplace devoted to coping with these circumstances and staffed by technical consultants who reply the telephone in finite time. I am absolutely at your disposal if I may help you on this matter in any approach. I sense you’re, Performing Commissioner Kijakazi, the primary Social Security director in a really very long time who really cares concerning the individuals they serve.

Please contact me and I can put you involved with Kristin.

Sincerely yours,

Larry Kotlikoff

Letter from Kristin

Once I noticed the long-awaited envelope from Social Security within the mailbox of my constructing, I excitedly scurried into the elevator and ripped the massive envelope open whereas going up. Scanning shortly, I noticed that it said one thing about an overpayment and in addition noticed that the letter was really a invoice for the astronomical quantity of $118,272! I abruptly began experiencing one thing my shoppers had typically reported occurring to them — I found myself to be hyperventilating for the primary time in my life.

I’m a 69 12 months previous retired psychotherapist. I’m a widow, recognized with Bronchiectasis and MAC, a life sapping antibiotic resistant continual an infection that leaves one susceptible to different killer infections. Bronchiectasis is exacerbated by stress. I’m confused.

This complete story began in March of 2020 after I had acquired a letter from SSA saying that I might be receiving $424 lower than the $2,473 I had been receiving each month, as a correction to my account. In addition they demanded $4,011 in compensation for what they believed they’d overpaid me, all with no clear rationalization. I filed an enchantment and some months later that quantity was modified from $424 to $345 much less each month, once more stating it was a correction. The quantity that they believed they overpaid me was modified from $4,011 to $669. This was higher, however I nonetheless wanted the $345 again each month or on the very least, an inexpensive rationalization.

Over the following 12 months I telephoned the SSA 800 quantity numerous occasions, hoping for some type of significant response. I heard varied contradictory tales from the 800 quantity staffers providing all types of causes, (together with that my husband had acquired an excessive amount of!) however no solutions as to what computations had led to those conclusions.

I lastly known as my native workplace right here in NY this summer time and the useful employees there mentioned they’d contact an workplace known as the Fee Middle. The native workplace staffer instructed me, after trying again at my document, that they guessed that SSA had maybe made a mistake which can presumably have occurred the month after my husband died, when SSA routinely began depositing early widow’s advantages into my account. I had been instructed explicitly to attend till full retirement age for my widow’s advantages since getting them early would trigger them to be completely significantly decreased. Once I found the deposit, I walked into the native Social Security workplace in Colorado, the place I used to be dwelling, and instructed them that I didn’t need early widow’s advantages and would apply for them on the appropriated age. They then stopped these funds for a number of years till I reached FRA and utilized for my unreduced widows profit.

After the decision to my native workplace right here in NY, I heard nothing for a few months till receiving the calamitous invoice from SSA on Sept 1. I had so hoped that the letter would comprise the excellent news that they’d found their mistake and the hundreds of {dollars} that they owed me can be deposited into my checking account and authentic funds restored. As a substitute I acquired a invoice for $118,272 — greater than 100% of all the advantages SSA had ever paid me. Apparently they suppose I qualify for nothing in any respect. That’s after I began taking the anti-anxiety remedy.

And at this level I contacted Larry.

On Oct 1 they wrote to say that each one my advantages can be suspended till 2037, when I’m 85 years previous if I dwell so lengthy, which at this level doesn’t look so good. This month I acquired a direct invoice from Medicare as a result of I’m not receiving any advantages in any respect from Social Security and, like everybody, they must be paid, proper?

And I’m nonetheless ready.


Laurence Kotlikoff is a professor of economics at Boston College, writer of Cash Magic (forthcoming), and president of He writes commonly for Forbes. His Ask Larry column solutions your questions on Social Security.

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