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tom margenau


The So-Called 'New' Social Security Rules Are Actually the Old Rules There is just so darn much misinformation out there about new Social Security rules. These rules have to do with the eventual elimination of the maximizing strategies known as "file and restrict" and "file and suspend." Every single day, I get …Read more. How to Deal With the Social Security Earnings Penalties I've gotten more than a few emails recently from Social Security beneficiaries who are under age 66 and still working and who are trapped in the web of Social Security's convoluted earnings penalty rules and the way they are administered. Those …Read more. Long Gone Husband May Mean Extra Social Security to Some I gave a couple women very nice Christmas presents over the recent holiday season. And I'm not talking about the lingerie I got my wife or the coffee maker I got my daughter. I'm talking about the gift of extra Social Security benefits I got for two …Read more. The Lights Are Still Shining Brightly at SSA About a month ago, I wrote a column about possible declining service at the Social Security Administration. I pointed out that I get frequent emails from readers who complain about overflowing waiting rooms, generally unpleasant surroundings, and …Read more.
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Lost Social Security checks can be replaced


Q: My sister told me that if my Social Security check is ever lost or stolen, the government would not replace it. Is this true? That certainly doesn't seem fair.

A: Almost everybody receives his or her Social Security benefits by direct deposit, and the huge advantage to direct deposit is that there is no "check" to get lost or stolen. With direct deposit, your Social Security funds are automatically transferred from the government's coffers to your bank account.

But if you are one of the few people who still gets his or her monthly Social Security benefits via a paper check, and if that check is lost or stolen, it will eventually be replaced. It's just that you'll have to jump through a few bureaucratic hoops and wait several weeks to make that happen. The government will replace a lost or stolen Social Security check once it verifies that you did not endorse and cash the first check that was issued.

You'd be surprised by the number of people who report they never received their Social Security check and then are later embarrassed to learn that they did indeed sign and cash the check.

Q: Can I turn over my Social Security checks to my grandkids? I don't need the money, but they sure could use it. Someone at my local bank told me that I could not do this.

A: It's your money and you can do whatever you want with it.

Perhaps your bank representative thought you wanted to have your Social Security checks issued directly to your grandkids. That you cannot do. But once the money is in your account, you can save it, spend it or give it away.

Q: I am separated from my husband.

We have been married for more than 30 years. I'm about to turn 65 and go on Social Security. A neighbor told me that for Social Security purposes, it would be better if I was divorced. She said she read that in your column. Can you please explain that? If it's an issue, you should know that my husband is 63 and he is still working.

A: To begin with, please bear in mind that I am answering this strictly from a Social Security perspective. Of course, you have to consider many other personal and legal ramifications of getting a divorce.

Being divorced, as opposed to being married but separated, could be to your advantage only if you are eligible for benefits as a wife on your husband's Social Security account. As a divorced woman, you would collect those benefits even if your husband was not getting Social Security benefits himself. He merely has to be old enough to qualify for Social Security, which he already is. But again, he does not have to apply for his own Social Security in order for you to get benefits as a divorced wife on his record.

On the other hand, a currently married woman, even if she is separated, cannot receive benefits as a wife on her husband's Social Security unless he is receiving retirement benefits himself.

Finally, you should understand this: If your own Social Security retirement benefit exceeds whatever money you might be due on your husband's record, then you can ignore everything I just wrote. In other words, you wouldn't be due any benefits on his record anyway, so it wouldn't matter if you are separated or divorced.

Questions may be sent c/o Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190. Or send e-mail to

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21 Comments | Post Comment
Dear Tom...I am 70 years old and have been collecting my SS since age 62. I was married to my first husband for 17 years before divorcing. He is 76 and a retired Navy Captain. (My present husband is 82 and collects his own SS. My question: if my present husband dies, am I eligible to collect on my first husband's navy retirement or would I only be eligible for my present husband's SS. I was told I could collect on the Navy (after I was widowed), but a friend said I could notcollect on my husband's SS because I started collecting my own (meager) SS at age 62.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Bobbie
Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:49 PM
how do i get a lsot check replaced?
Comment: #2
Posted by: paul e. robbinson
Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:45 AM
Dear Tom
My father made me durable power attorney over his account which he receives 900.00 monthly from social security . And gave me his verbal permission to use the money as needed for myself. My father is in a nursing home with alzhiemers . Could I face legal issues over this matter from the social security admin. My fathers bills are paid in full and I have used the moneys for my personnel needs.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Bonnie
Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:28 PM
my child ssi checks was stolen what do i do.
Comment: #4
Posted by: nia
Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:52 PM
Tom----My wife and I are currently both on Social Security. Since she didn't make enough money while she was working to equate to half of my Social Security entitlement; she is receiving half of my amount.

The question is: If i pass away before my wife can my wife claim and receive 100% of my Social Security entitlement, as a widow's benefit? Please let me know.-------------Thanks
Comment: #5
Posted by: John Compitello
Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:29 AM
i did draw over 6 hundred dollars in ssi until i got married now i draw 76.50 and i am seperated and i want a divorce butr i cant even think about filing for a divorce with 76.50 how can i get my ammount back like i had before i got married i am on ssi
Comment: #6
Posted by: FELICIA
Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:56 AM
Since on March i called the social sercuity office and told them that i haven't recieved my paper check. They told me where my check went to metabank. I was shocked and then they had to teasurey my check, it been 5 months already waiting. They told me that they are not going to replace my check until they had to send it back. Was waiting.... Even that i went to personal office and let them know that in the middle of March a person called in front of me, and told me will put in my direct express from omega bank. You know what? still haven't recieve it. Look what today date? I called many times and let them know that i still haven't recieve my missing check since march. Now any option?
Comment: #7
Posted by: Margarita
Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:28 PM
I recieve social security and have a payee. I had to change my payee because of problems. I had been waiting for my check , which comes at the first of the month, Now it is the end of the month and I find out my old payee cashed my check in another state. She will not send me the money. Now she is back in my state . Please advise me on this .I went to the police station to press charges and they said it was a Federal problem they could not help me.
Comment: #8
Posted by: joyce
Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:22 PM
I recently got married in nov. now its july & i haven't received a check for 2 months. what should i do. shouldn't ssi be notifying me of a change in my benefits? i really depend on this money.
Comment: #9
Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:01 AM
Re: nia i need to know too, this happened on Dec 30, the mailman verified giving it to someone who claimed they lived at my address, not true, thats how i know its stolen, today is now the 10 of january and the social security office told me at first that they were issuing a replacement now there saying that its no record of them saying they would, and that they are putting a trace on it, they told me that last week. Im in desperate need of the money considering my rent is now past due.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Shaq1
Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:53 PM
I am 70 years old and have been receiving my SSA check for many years now via direct deposit to my bank account. My July 2010 check did not show up in my account and when I called the SSA they told me I had transferred it to another bank which I had not!
SSA told me to file a police report which I did and sent them and the US Treasury a copy of it and explained I felt my oldest, estranged and mentally handicapped son who is on disability with the exact same name as mine and has all of my information including my SSA # most likely committed this crime. The bank that the funds were transferred to was also very close to where he lives. To date I have not received my July SSA funds nor any reply from the Social Security Admin. Or the US Treasury Dept.??? It has been 9 months now!
My question is of course what should I do to get the wheels turning with this problem? I could sure use your advice. I do not know who to call or write next. Thank you.
Comment: #11
Posted by: August
Tue Apr 5, 2011 3:15 AM
Our may 3rd 2011, social security check got lost, I've been reporting it since may 9th,2011...and I hvnt had no resolution, the check, is still lost, and I've been to the social security, many times . What's goin on?? :/
Comment: #12
Posted by: nancy
Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:07 AM
I want to know if i divorce my husband with him in a nursing home but will always take care of his needs and well being will the nursaing home get his disabilkty check
Comment: #13
Posted by: Pattie
Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:37 PM
My wife is on Social Security, I am on Teacher Retirement, therefore no S.S. If she passes before I do will I qualify for any benefits from her S.S.?
Comment: #14
Posted by: Robert Farley
Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:04 PM
my husband signed up for direct deposit and his check was lost somehow between them and the bank it has been 5 months and they are telling him they are still investigating i know they can track a check to see if it was cashed it has been 5 months and he still hasnt gotten his check who do you contact or what do you do
Comment: #15
Posted by: chris mcclary
Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:20 AM
My son receives ( SSI) benifiets , I'm his payee! My son dad took the check out the mailbox and cashed and spent the whole check ! How was he able to cash a check that didn't have his name on it?
Comment: #16
Posted by: Hannah weaver
Sat Feb 9, 2013 9:02 PM
Dear sir I lost my social security monthly check.I make less than 800.00$per month,how do I get it replaced?
Comment: #17
Posted by: othel sullivan
Mon May 5, 2014 3:00 AM
my hole wallet was stolling with my hole check and state id
Comment: #18
Posted by: elizabeth talbot
Fri Jul 4, 2014 3:52 PM
Comment: #19
Posted by: sharon stevens
Sat Oct 25, 2014 6:00 PM
I have been waiting for my check an it hasn't came for July feel they should mail my check to 9814 Cheeves Street Houston Texas 77016 cause my payee stole my check an I want to file a complaint against here for not doing what she was suppose to do
Comment: #20
Posted by: Kendrick grant
Mon Jul 6, 2015 12:23 PM
I lost or either someone stole my check its been several years I want to know how to put a trace on it. I need help until it is found what should I do. I am currently in the state of Va.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Ronald Rosenberg
Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:54 AM
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Tom Margenau
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