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Thu Aug 16, 2018, 02:21 AM

Trying to navigate the Social Security Web Site...

...Is it unusual that you can't access the site unless it's within business hours?

Trying to figure out if I will benefit from the crap game of Social Security. My wife of 10 years (25 total years together) died on 3/21/2012.

I find myself with half of our income at age 65 and things are getting tight. I feel I should have applied earlier for her benefits but my thought was that the taxes on a working recipient would be crushing.

Is there anyone here that can direct me or give me advice on what I should do?

I'm only 10 months from my SS full benefit age and she was 56 when she died.

Should I apply for her benefits that would amount to less than 1k per month or take my early retirement at an estimated $1700 or $1800 when I reach full retirement age 66 in June 2019 and planning to work for 3+years at 45K per year?

The reason I ask is that navigating the SS web site and asking these questions on the web generally gives results from those who gain $ from these very questions.

Serious inquiry so, please, only help and informed opinions are requested.

Maybe I just need to go to the local SS Administration office for advice but I want to be informed when I do.

Thanks for any advice and anecdotes that may help.

8 replies, 1227 views

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Trying to navigate the Social Security Web Site... (Original post)
LompocDem Aug 2018 OP
PoindexterOglethorpe Aug 2018 #1
Control-Z Aug 2018 #2
wishstar Aug 2018 #3
enough Aug 2018 #4
Pope George Ringo II Aug 2018 #8
Sherman A1 Aug 2018 #5
DeminPennswoods Aug 2018 #6
Pope George Ringo II Aug 2018 #7

Response to LompocDem (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 02:38 AM

1. She died before being old enough to collect SS.

So you can only count on your own benefit. I think. I might be wrong here.

To get more information, get the book Get What's Yours by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller, and Paul Solman. They spell out in wonderful detail exactly what you can get.

The original version of that book let me know that as a divorced spouse (married more than ten years, divorced for at least two, at my own full retirement age, and the ex at least 62) I could collect on his account, thereby waiting until I turned 70 (next week as it happens) to collect my own full amount, which is about $500 more than I've been collecting. Hooray!

Your time together, so far as SS is concerned, is those years you were married. But the more important thing is that she died at age 56 (and please accept my condolences here).

I believe that if you apply for her benefits (and I'm not sure you really can, since she died so young), you will be permanently reducing your own benefit. Hang on there until you at least have your 66th birthday. At that point you apply for your own benefits. If you continue working (not a bad idea) you will not only lose any SS benefits, but if your continued employment boosts your SS payment, all the better.

I am sincere when I offer you condolences on the loss of your wife. Alas, Social Security is a lot more pragmatic about all of these things. More to the point, see if you can make an appointment at your local Social Security office. My personal experience has been that they are extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I recently needed to go to my local SS office in person to make the switch from my husband's benefits to my own, and although it was a bit nerve wracking to make the appointment (I couldn't get it until the month before I was turning 70) when I got there, the agent was wonderful, helpful, and kind. I was very certain what I was entitled to. My only question was whether or not doing a retroactive thing made sense (it didn't) and I was provided with a print out of the information. Two days ago I got a mailing from Social Security confirming my new benefit, and the fact that it will be paid starting in September.

I hope this is helpful.

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Response to LompocDem (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 03:44 AM

2. Honestly, you should see a professional -

a financial advisor. They know the ins and outs of the SS system. Plus, they know when and how
any upcoming laws might change the amount you are entitled to and alert you to any filing deadlines that will work to your advantage.

I am sincerely sorry about the loss of your wife and understand how painful this must be for you. But a professional will also be able to advise you on the SS benefits you are entitled to on her behalf.

I believe the one time fee they charge to get you situated will be worth it.

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Response to LompocDem (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 04:15 AM

3. Make an appointment to go to your closest Social Security office to discuss this

You can sit down with a trained expert who can crunch the numbers and tell you all of the rules and regulations. There are excellent employees of the Social Security Administration willing and able to help you since that is their job and they will provide you with your options. Do not waste your time and money paying finanacial advisors when Social Security offices are staffed with people to help you.

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Response to wishstar (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 05:15 AM

4. I agree. Also, I found that the staff in the office really want to help you figure out

the ways to get the most benefits you can.

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Response to enough (Reply #4)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 08:12 AM

8. Like most workplaces, 90-95% of them are good people trying to do their job.

The other 5-10% are a split between good people having a bad day, and actual jerks.

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Response to wishstar (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 05:51 AM

5. Agreed

I would mention that you should be prepared to wait at the office and you will have to go through a security screener, so leave all the excess change and alike at home or in the car.

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Response to LompocDem (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 06:50 AM

6. Definately go to your local SSA office

But, I don't think you can collect on your spouse's social security benefit. It's possible you might be entitled to the difference between her projected monthly allowance and yours, but that would be it. A friend's spouse died a few years ago and had been collecting social security. The surviving spouse contacted the SSA and received a written response saying one cannot collect the benefits of a deceased spouse.

Here's a link to info from the SSA website: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/

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Response to LompocDem (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 08:08 AM

7. I deal with their disability rather than retirement.

I'll second the suggestion of checking with a financial advisor.

If you do decide to talk to SSA and make an appointment with the office, you'll be able to speak with a trained specialist. If you walk in the door, you'll get somebody who might be a specialist in SSI or veteran's benefits and just working the window today. More kinds of programs go on in an SSA office than most of us think, and they all have specialists who get lost outside their areas.

All bureaucrats work from a rule book. It's good to know that rulebook.

https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/chapterlist!openview&restricttocategory=03

Good luck.

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