Some Oldsters Still Need Social Security Credits There are more than a few people pushing retirement age who still do not have enough Social Security credits to qualify for retirement benefits. They almost always fall into one of two categories. They are either people who spent their career in one …Read more. People Who Feel Cheated by Social Security There are two kinds of people in the world: those who jump out of bed each morning all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to take on the world, and those who get up all sullen and despondent waiting for the world to take them on. And with respect to …Read more. But Wait, There's More! Have you ever seen those infomercials (usually run on obscure cable channels and usually in the middle of the night) in which the pitchman is trying to sell you a product? And after he gives you the price, he says, "But wait, there's more!" Then …Read more. Clearing Up Misunderstandings About Disability Benefits Q: I have been getting disability since I was 56 years old. I am now 61. I'd like to switch over to real Social Security when I turn 62 so that I can start working. How do I do that? A: Your question reveals several misunderstandings about the …Read more.more articles
Retirement Benefits and Social Security Work Together Sometimes
Q: I am 58 years old and about to retire after 30 years of work for a county government in California. I was told that certain county employees in California, Texas, and a few other states could collect Social Security retirement benefits before the age of 62. Is this true?
A: No, you can't draw Social Security retirement benefits before age 62. And that's a fact whether you live and work in California, or Texas, or Timbuktu! Social Security is a federal program and the laws apply equally in all states.
But many state and county pension plans, and some private plans for that matter, offer to pay their early retirees a temporary benefit in lieu of Social Security until their real Social Security kicks in. In other words, if you are able to retire at age 58 with 30 years of service and collect a pension from the county you worked for, the county might provide you an extra benefit that's intended to supplement your pension until you reach Social Security age. Then at age 62, you apply for and get your Social Security payments, and your employer stops paying you that extra benefit.
Some pensioners, and even some pension plan managers, mistakenly refer to this as "temporary Social Security." But it is not a Social Security payment. It is just an extra benefit your employer provides. So you will have to check with your employer to find out if they offer this special benefit.
Q: I am about to turn 62 and plan to apply for my Social Security. Then, when I turn 65, I will get a pension from my former employer. I was told that when that happens, my Social Security benefits would be reduced. Is this true?
A: No, it's not true. Social Security retirement benefits are never reduced by any other pension you might receive.
On the other hand, the opposite is often true. Many public and private pensions are reduced when Social Security benefits kick in. But that almost always happens when the other pension is paid first.
And by the way, even though I said that Social Security retirement benefits are never reduced by any other pension you might receive, the same is not always true for Social Security disability benefits. There is a law that says the combination of a Social Security disability benefit and a worker's compensation payment cannot exceed 80 percent of the average income a person had before becoming disabled. If the two payments combined exceed that rate, one or the other benefit must be cut. In some states, the worker's compensation payment is adjusted. In other states, the Social Security disability benefit is reduced.
Q: I am about to turn 66 years old. I have been getting widow's benefits since I was 60. When I applied for those benefits, I was told that I might be able to switch to a higher amount on my own retirement account at age 66. When I recently went to my local Social Security office to inquire about this, I was handed the attached computer printout. (Note to my readers: I'm not reprinting it here because it's gibberish.) I was given this piece of paper with no explanation other than to "check out the numbers and make a decision." I have no idea what this printout is telling me. Can you help?
A: You unfortunately got stuck with one of the laziest Social Security Administration employees I ever heard of! What you were given is an internal SSA document that the representative was supposed to use to interpret your various options with respect to when to switch to your own retirement benefits. Based on the limited information I was able to get from the printout, it looks like your best option is to wait until age 70 and then switch from widow's benefits to retirement benefits. But please don't take my word for it. Go back to your local SSA office and demand to speak to a supervisor or manager who should give you better service.
To find out more about Tom Margenau and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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