In March 1985, the Grand Forks Herald (ND) published my first article and waited to see if any readers would notice. Enough did and today, 31 years later, this weekly Social Security article appears in four states and online. This is my last one. Including the Herald, some papers have published the article for many years, some only a few. Thank you to all of them and to the many readers who have sent questions.
Q: If starting retirement at age 62, is payment prorated for the days that I am 62? A: Social Security benefits are not prorated. A person is either eligible for the complete month or not at all. For retirement, you must be at least age 62 through the entire month to receive benefits for that month. A person reaching age 62 during a month is usually not age 62 for the entire month so benefits can first be received starting for the next month.
Q: I plan to start Social Security retirement next January, including benefits for our 17-year-old son who is in high school. Can my wife receive Social Security on my record then because our son will? She is in her 50’s and working.
Q: How long does a My Social Security password stay valid?
Q: Can Social Security number (SSN) cards be replaced online? A: Until very recently the answer to this question was no. For people having a my Social Security account, the answer recently became maybe and eventually it will be yes. Protection of personal information is always a priority and, until recently, an online SSN application coupled with the requirement to present current ID was not feasible. This is changing.
Q: Are Social Security benefits the same for women and men? A: Program legislation is gender neutral so individuals with identical earnings histories are treated the same in terms of benefits, so yes; Social Security benefits are the same for women and men. Differences outside of Social Security, such as interrupted work patterns, overall earnings and life expectancy influence benefits.
Q: Can I restrict my Social Security application to apply only for spouse’s benefits and delay filing for my own retirement benefit to earn delayed retirement credits? A: Depending on your birthdate, this is possible. Parts of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 legislation, enacted in November 2015, closed unintended loopholes and changed how benefits could be paid to a person eligible for their own Social Security retirement and as a spouse.
Q: Is age 65 still important for Social Security retirement? A: While age 65 is important as the starting age for Medicare, it has no special meaning for Social Security retirement anymore. Until the Social Security Amendments of 1983, retirement benefits for all birth years were not reduced if you waited until age 65 before starting them. Benefits started when younger than age 65 were reduced for age.
Q: Last year I started receiving Social Security benefits for my adult disabled son and just received a form asking how his benefits are used. What is this about? A: A person receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits on behalf of someone else, whether child or adult, is known as a representative payee.
Q: How much is the maximum 2016 Social Security retirement amount? A: This is the maximum amount payable to a person retiring in 2016 exactly at full retirement age (FRA). This is not the same as the highest possible Social Security retirement amount. The maximum monthly Social Security retirement amount changes each year. Reasons for this include changes to national average wage data and having another year of potentially higher earnings available when computing retirement amounts.