Protecting You From Fraud: Recent Social Security Change

Social Security Solutions, LLCSocial Security (SS) now requires you to open a “My Social Security” account to file an online application. Previously, you could file an application online with a special application number so you could start an application online, save it, and return later to complete it. Now you must get to the online application through your “My Social Security” account. The process is similar to credit card and bank procedures. You will log into your account with a user ID and password and then SS will send a special code to your cell or email. You need this code before completing the online application. The SS website also recognizes IP addresses, so you must start and finish the application from the same IP address. If logged on from a different IP address, you will be locked out and must restart the application.

This new process is beneficial to you! ID theft has led to more fraudulent Social Security retirement claims filed online in recent years.

So open your “My Social Security” account at www.ssa.gov and keep it up to date every six months.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

About Dennis Heywood

Denny’s career with Social Security provides an in-depth, working knowledge of the Social Security Administration’s internal organization and processes. An expert in all phases of SSA programs: retirement, survivor, disability, and Medicare, Denny has expertise with the complex Social Security regulations based on more than 40 years of experience.

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Spousal Benefits and the 2016 Social Security Law “Deemed Filing” Changes

Social Security Solutions, LLCDue to the Social Security “Deemed Filing” change introduced on April 30, 2016, persons born after 1953 are limited as to when they can take a spousal benefit. One aspect of the new law eliminates the ability of a spouse to limit the scope of the application to spousal benefits at “full retirement age” if they were born after 1953. The strategy used to be to take one half of their spouses full retirement age benefit, but still accrue delayed retirement credits until age 70 (8 percent per year increase). It was a great strategy for some people; keep working but take one half of their spouse’s benefit, then switch to their own record at age 70 for a much higher benefit. Persons born before 1954 can still do this.

Another impact to this “deemed filing” rule change affects when a spouse must take a spousal benefit if eligible before they reach full retirement age.  Example: A wife (born in 1954 or later) files for her retirement benefit at age 62 and receives $600/month. Her husband decides to file for his retirement benefit a year later when he is 66. She could file then and take a reduced spousal benefit of about $275/month, but is advised by her financial advisor to wait until she turn 66 (full retirement age) to get a higher spousal benefit of $400/month. WRONG.

The deemed filing change states she must file immediately for the reduced benefit of $275/month. If she was not entitled on her own record, she could wait and file at full retirement age for the highest benefit on her record and her spouse’s record. However, she elected a reduced benefit on her record and must take the reduced spousal benefit as soon as it is available.

Note: In this example, if she waits until her full retirement age to file for spousal benefit, they will only pay her the $275/month. She will lose all spousal benefits she could have received beginning the month her husband filed.

Recently, a financial planning firm contacted me who had advised a client’s wife (born in 1954) in 2015 to wait until her full retirement age to take spousal benefits. When her husband filed in 2018, Social Security informed her she must file for reduced spousal benefits right away and could not wait until her full retirement age because she had previously elected reduced benefits on her own record in 2015. The advice was correct at the time provided (2015), but the 2016 changes eliminated the option to wait and get a higher spousal benefit.

Questions? Feel free to give me a call!


About Dennis Heywood

Denny’s career with Social Security provides an in-depth, working knowledge of the Social Security Administration’s internal organization and processes. An expert in all phases of SSA programs: retirement, survivor, disability, and Medicare, Denny has expertise with the complex Social Security regulations based on more than 40 years of experience.

ss-help.com

Is 2019 Your Full Retirement Year?

Social Security Solutions, LLCIf you were born in 1953, next year is your full retirement year. It’s time to do some math so you don’t lose retirement benefits you could have started taking in January 2019. The earnings limit (wages and self-employment only) for 2019 will be about $45,600 (estimated).

Here is how this strategy works: If you are earning about $80,000 a year from a job or self-employment, you could possibly start taking a retirement benefit in January 2019. Social Security only counts your earnings for months prior to your full retirement month, so if you were born in July 1953, they only count your earnings through June 2019. At $80,000 per year, you’re only earning $40,000 through June and could take a slightly reduced benefit starting January 2019 because your earnings are under the limit through June 2019. Social Security doesn’t care what you earn after June 2019 because you are under the $45,600 limit. BINGO! Thousands of dollars in your pocket before June and you keep working earning your $80,000 for the year. Plus, if your spouse is eligible for spousal benefits they can also file on your record January 2019.

This may not be the best choice for some who wants to wait until 70 to maximize their retirement benefit. However, if you were going to file in June 2019 for your benefit, this is something you may want to consider.

You can file for a January 2019 benefit any time after August 31, 2018.

For more information on this strategy check out my website and contact me for a Retirement Benefit analysis.


About Dennis Heywood

Denny’s career with Social Security provides an in-depth, working knowledge of the Social Security Administration’s internal organization and processes. An expert in all phases of SSA programs: retirement, survivor, disability, and Medicare, Denny has expertise with the complex Social Security regulations based on more than 40 years of experience.

ss-help.com

Social Security Tidbits That Are Nice To Know

1. VISITING AN OFFICE

IF visiting a Social Security office or calling 800 number

Avoid Mondays and days after national holidays. They are very busy and you will wait longer than usual to conduct business. Appointments are available to file claims of appeals, but not for routine business like getting a replacement SS card or explanation of notices received.

 

2. MEDICARE PART A

Many people think they must file for Part A of Medicare when they turn 65 to avoid a penalty. This is true UNLESS you are working for a company that has more than 20 employees and are covered under their Group Health Plan. In that case, you can stay on the Group Plan with no penalty. You will get a Special Enrollment Period for Medicare when you leave the company.

 

3. OVERPAID

If you are overpaid SS benefits and it is your fault, the local SS office has the authority to accept a compromise offer of 80 percent of the overpayment in most cases when the overpayment is $20,000 or less. Just visit an office, make the offer, and write them a check.

 

4. DISABILITY AND RETIREMENT BENEFITS

You can file for a reduced retirement benefit and disability at the same time. The retirement benefit will be paid immediately while SS reviews your medical records to see if you qualify for disability benefits. If the disability is approved your monthly benefit will be increased as soon as you complete the five-month waiting period.


About Dennis Heywood

Denny’s career with Social Security provides an in-depth, working knowledge of the Social Security Administration’s internal organization and processes. An expert in all phases of SSA programs: retirement, survivor, disability, and Medicare, Denny has expertise with the complex Social Security regulations based on more than 40 years experience.

ss-help.com

LIVE! Cleveland Training Event with SSA

UPCOMING TRAINING DATE IN CLEVELAND: Social Security Today

Learn about the Social Security program, retirement and dependent benefits and any current updates to better serve your clients.

Presented by: Mr. Brandon P. Smith, Public Affairs Specialist (Social Security Administration)

Date: Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Time: 10:00 am–12:00 pm

Location: Cleveland Office

4500 Rockside Rd Suite 330

Independence, OH 44131

Click here to register!

Navigating the Social Security System

How do you apply for an original or replacement Social Security card? Simple, just complete the attached Form SS-5 and submit the required evidence.

Well, maybe it’s simple and maybe not. It can be a very frustrating process if you submit the incorrect evidence or photocopies. Social Security does not accept photocopies to issue or reissue a Social Security card. Remember: The requirements are there to protect you from identity theft.

The attached Form SS-5 includes explanations of what is and is not acceptable evidence. The biggest mistake people make is to submit their birth certificate to get a replacement card (marriage, lost card, or name change). A birth certificate is proof you were born, not proof of identity. You submit a birth certificate only when a new card is being issued (newborn child). After that, the birth certificate is useless as proof of identity because anybody can access it. Replacement cards require proof of identity.

Complete the SS-5 and submit it along with the required evidence to your local Social Security office. I would strongly advise you to take the paperwork to your local office and do it in person when possible. Avoid Mondays and days after holidays. Some offices have a special line just for Social Security card applications and you don’t have to take a number.

If you mail in the paperwork, it could take weeks before an employee gets to it. Then, it takes about two weeks for the card to be issued and received. If you complete the paperwork in person, it’s usually processed the same day. Moreover, do you really want to mail your original marriage certificate or another important document?

Please refer to the attached form SS-5 and instructions and contact me with any questions.

I hope this information is useful and helps you navigate the Social Security system better.


About Dennis Heywood

Denny’s career with Social Security provides an in-depth, working knowledge of the Social Security Administration’s internal organization and processes. An expert in all phases of SSA programs: retirement, survivor, disability, and Medicare, Denny has expertise with the complex Social Security regulations based on more than 40 years experience.

ss-help.com

Medicare Premiums: 2018 Threshold Changes for Higher-Income Beneficiaries

2018 ushers in new (lower) thresholds for higher income beneficiaries. Lower is not a good thing. Persons and couples falling into the third, fourth, and fifth thresholds will be affected and pay higher Part B and D premiums. For example, a couple filing jointly whose adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2015 was between $214,000 and $320,000 paid Part B premiums of $267.90 each and an extra $34.20 each on Part D premiums in 2017.

In 2018, a couple filing jointly whose adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2016 was between $214,000 and $267,000 (lowered by $53,000) will pay Part B premiums of $267.90 each and an extra $33.60 each on Part D premiums in 2018. Persons filing as individuals are likewise affected in the upper three thresholds.

And don’t think you can avoid the issue by “married filing separately”. There are only two thresholds for married filing separately. If the 2016 AGI is $85,000 or less you pay the standard rates (B=$134 D= your standard premium). If the 2016 AGI is above $85,000 you pay $428.60 for Part B and an extra $74.80 above your plan premium for Part D.

That said, don’t forget these increased premiums for 2018 can be appealed and lowered for a “Life Changing Event” the most common of which is Loss of Earnings. If high earnings from 2016 are no longer available (somebody retired from their job or self-employment), Social Security will lower the 2018 premiums based on your estimate of the 2018 AGI. Other Life Changing Events are death of a spouse, divorce, marriage, loss of income-producing property, reduction/loss of pension, and employer settlement.

Please see the guide to Medicare premiums for higher income beneficiaries at www.Medicare.gov for the all the premium changes in 2018 or you can email me for a copy of the new rates.

 


About Dennis Heywood

Denny’s career with Social Security provides an in-depth, working knowledge of the Social Security Administration’s internal organization and processes. An expert in all phases of SSA programs: retirement, survivor, disability, and Medicare, Denny has expertise with the complex Social Security regulations based on more than 40 years experience.

ss-help.com