Hey Marc!

The following are questions received from advisors across the country.  Contact Marc Kiner at mkiner@mypremierplan.com or 513.218.8505 with any questions.

Topic – President Bidens’s Budget Proposal Impacts SSA

Link to blog on the SSA website:


Areas of impact:

  • Improve Service Delivery
  • Advance Equity and Accessibility
  • Modernize our Information Technology
  • Provides National, Comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave (to be administered by SSA)

Topic – Earnings Test

Hey Marc! – I have a question for you. As you know, my Social Security payments are starting this month (about $3,500/month).  I am considering retiring from my job with the county and being re-hired, hopefully at the same rate I make now, about $85,000/year. 

If I am re-hired, would that affect the amount I receive in SS benefits?  Is there a cap on the amount I can earn without affecting my Social Security?

Answer – Since you are past your full retirement age, your earnings are not subject to the earnings test so you will receive all your monthly benefits.  If your earnings in a year are higher than the lowest year of indexed earnings used in the computation of your benefit you will see an increase.  If it is less the benefit stays the same.  The adjustment is effective in January of each year but it is normally October before SSA makes any adjustments.  They will send any back pay you are due.

Topic – To Over – Form SSA-521 / Voluntary Suspension

Hey Marc! – Do you know whether someone receiving SS benefit can suspend their benefit – basically stop the payments and resume them at a later time.  You used to be able to do this, but I’m wondering whether SSA put limits on this.  I have someone needing to reduce their income for the next 2 years and they started SS benefits in January 2023.

Answer – An individual can withdraw their application by filing SSA-521.  All benefits will need to be repaid.  This is known as the “Do Over”.  Also, if someone is full retirement age or older they can suspend benefits and earn delayed retirement credits.  Only issue is if anyone else is receiving on their record their benefits will be suspended as well.

Topic – Form SSA-44 Processing Time

Hey Marc! – What is the processing time with SSA on SSA 44 right now?

Answer – These forms are processed in the local Social Security offices and the time depends on who is processing the request.  Some will process quicker than others.  If it has been a while I would suggest a visit to the local office and ask for a status report.  If this isn’t satisfactory I would then contact my local Congressional representative for assistance.

Topic – Surviving Spouse Benefits and AET

Hey Marc ! – We have a client who is 61 and was recently widowed.  She is still working, and not sure about her official retirement. Can you refresh my memory on how they rectify benefits if she begins collecting and then exceeds the earnings limit? I seem to remember it eventually being adjusted for any months she was docked for the earnings test but can’t remember the details.

Also, are the earnings numbers the same for widows as they are for all retirees?

Answer – The earnings test applies to widow(er) benefits the same as it does for retirement benefits.  If earnings are over $21,240 SSA will withhold $1 of benefits for each $2 it is exceeded.  Any month a full benefit was not paid as a result of the withholding will be considered a credit month and the reduction factor is adjusted for widows at age 62 and FRA to increase benefits.

Topic – Obtaining additional SS Credits

Hey Marc! – Someone asked me if his wife could buy credits to hit the 40 needed for social security.  Is that a thing? Seems unrealistic to me and everything I’ve read suggests that is incorrect. 

Answer – Cannot purchase credits.  SS Credits are only obtained via earned income. 

Topic – Social Security Benefits to Grandchildren

Hey Marc ! – We have a client that is at FRA and plans to begin collecting benefits. She (and her husband) are primary caregivers of their two grandchildren both under the age of 16. They have a “split” custodial agreement for their grandchildren. They have primary custody at 51% and the remaining amount is split between the grandkid’s parents.

Would they still qualify for social security benefits as dependents or does our client need to have “full custody”? All individuals live in the state of Texas.

 Answer – Are the parents of the children disabled?  Both must be deceased or disabled before the Grandparents file for benefits to be eligible on their record.

Topic – Spousal Boost and SSDI

Hey Marc ! – His wife who was born 12/20/57 is getting $1100/m from SS Disability.  Once Ron starts his SS at 66.8 will she be entitled to almost half of his FRA amount?  Or since she is on SS disability it changes things?

Answer – The wife will be eligible for a spousal boost determined by taking 50% of his FRA amount less her disability amount.  If she files for spousal benefits prior to her FRA it will be reduced for age.

Topic – Annual Earnings Test

Hey Marc ! – I have a client, Larry, looking to retire this August at age 65 and will earn 50K in 2023.  If he files for his own benefits Dec 2023 age 65.4 and gets his first check in Jan 2024, will he be subject to the earnings test for the Dec amount being that the first check doesn’t come until 2024?

Answer – The earnings test will apply, however, he can use the monthly test and as long as he earns $1,770 or less in December he can receive the December benefit in January.

Topic – Public Employee and POMS References

Hey Marc! – We have a client that is getting some advice from Ohio SERS regarding a lump sum distribution and its impact on her SSA benefits that I am not sure that I agree with.

SERS is advising that she retire early to get the lump sum out prior to her benefit eligibility date.  They are claiming if this path is followed there would not a WEP/GPO adjustment.  The client turns 62 in June but will not be turning on her benefits until a later date.

Answer – It appears GPO will apply to your client since she does not have 40 credits of Social Security covered work.  It doesn’t matter when she withdraws.  It only matters that she takes her contributions only to avoid GPO (and WEP).  See the GN section below.

The POMS reference for Windfall Elimination Provision in RS 00605.364A2 states:

RS 00605.364 Determining Pension Applicability, Eligibility Date, and Monthly Amount

  1. Determining If Payments Are A Pension
    1. Pension contains employee and employer contributions
      1. If employer contributions or employer and employee contributions are used to determine the payment, it is generally a pension subject to the windfall elimination provision (WEP).
      2. If only employee contributions are involved and the payment amount is based on employee contributions plus interest, i.e., a savings plan, it is subject to WEP, only if it is the primary retirement plan.
    2. Withdrawals
      1. Withdrawals of the employee’s own contributions and interest made before the employee is eligible to receive a pension are not pensions for WEP purposes if the employee forfeits all rights to the pension. This rule applies even if the employer paid the employee contributions.
      2. Withdrawals of the employee’s own contributions and interest made after the employee is eligible to receive a pension are considered a lump-sum pension for WEP purposes.
      3. Any separation payment, withdrawal, or refund consisting of both employer and employee contributions is a pension; for WEP purposes whether made before or after the employee is eligible to receive a pension.

    The POMS reference for Government Pension Offset in GN 02608.400A3 states:

    1. Withdrawals from pension plans
      1. Withdrawals from a defined benefit plan, before or after eligibility for the pension, of only employee contributions plus any interest (i.e., none of the employer contributions are included in the withdrawal), and whereby the employee forfeits all rights to a pension, are not pensions for GPO purposes. This rule applies even if the employer paid the employee contributions for the employee (i.e., some employers may pay for the employee’s contribution).
      2.  Any other separation payment, withdrawal, or refund that consists of both employer and employee contributions from a defined benefit or defined contribution plan is a pension subject to GPO.

Topic –Earnings Test for Widow(ers) Benefits

Hey Marc! – The heart of the question relates to the adjustment at FRA relating to benefits withheld due to the Annual Earnings Test.  Does that adjustment occur with only retirement benefits, or will that adjustment apply also to survivor or spousal benefits as well?

Answer – While Retirement and spousal benefit adjustments for credit months occur at FRA,  survivor benefits have the adjustments made at age 62 and FRA.

Topic – Children Benefits / Qualification

Hey Marc ! – I have a client who has 3 kids under 18 –> 8, 11, 13.  Do you have to claim kids on taxes to be able to claim for SS benefits?  What do those benefits look like for him?  His SS benefit at 67 is $2,765.

Answer – The children do not have to be claimed on taxes to be eligible for benefits from his work record.  The children are eligible for 50% of his PIA (full retirement age benefit amount) subject to the family maximum.  He will receive his full benefit plus any delayed retirement credits and the children will receive the balance of the family maximum minus his PIA divided equally among them.  If they do not live with him he will not receive the benefit.  Whoever they live with will file for the benefits and be selected as their representative payee and receive the payments.

Topic – Earnings Test and Medicare Premium IRMAA

Hey Marc! – My client, Jan, retired March, 2022.  She was born 9/1956.  She earned $118k Jan-March, 2022.  She is a widow and planned to collect on her husband’s benefit until she turns 70 and will collect on her own benefit.  She met with Social Security last March and was told she was approved for her husband’s benefit and that it would begin last May.  After the meeting, she received a letter stating the payments would actually begin in June because they were withholding the April payment due in May for Medicare premiums. 

She had another meeting in July because she had not received a payment and they advised that due to her earnings and the timeframe she took Medicare part B she owed back payments.  She applied for Part B while still working, in November, 2021.  At this time, she was told she would receive her first check in August.  They also mentioned on more than one occasion that the payment center needed to switch her from deferred to active status and that was the reason for the delay.

On an October call, she was told her Medicare premiums were now overpaid and they owed her money.  She did pay her Medicare premiums out of pocket for Oct-December, 2022. She has filed an SSA-44 for both 2022 and 2023 (she has no income this year other than Social Security).  In early January, 2023, she was told that because of her last 2 years of income her part B premium would be $527.50 and they will review it again in December, 2023. 

She finally did receive a check at the end of January, and they withheld $597.50 for Medicare premiums.  The SSA website now says her next payment will have the $527.50 withheld.  In January she was told on a call that she is owed a back payment for part B and D but no one can tell her the amount or when she will receive this.

Can you help me sort out why her payments began so late and how can she determine the amount she is owed for back Medicare premiums?  Shouldn’t her 2022 premiums have been reduced to due to her lower earnings as well as her 2023 premiums since she filed SSA-44? 

Answer – Assuming your client had not used the annual earnings test monthly earnings to receive benefits in the past, she should be eligible for widows benefits to begin effective April 2022.  Medicare premiums should be based on her modified adjusted gross income for 2022 since she had a life changing event.  Her 2023 premium would be based on her 2023 income.  She needs to ask for a printout showing what she was paid and what she should have been paid broken out monthly.  She also needs to know what income they are using for her Medicare premiums for 2022 and 2023 to see what the premium amount is based on.  If they don’t want to provide the detailed explanation of her benefit and Medicare premium amounts I would contact my local Congressional representative and ask for their assistance.

Topic – SS Benefit after Death

Hey Marc! –  had a quick question I was hoping you could help me with. A client of mine unexpectedly passed away in the middle of January. I just spoke with her husband who claims he didn’t receive her SS check for the month of January. This seemed a bit odd to me as she only just passed in the middle of January and I’m sure no death certificates were processed in time that would have stopped her benefits. 

Is there a way I can investigate this for them? Or have you ever heard of something like this?

Answer – The payment for January is payable but since the death was reported, Treasury did not send out the payment.  Her husband will need to file a form SSA-1724 to claim the funds.  He can find the form at the following link – https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-1724.pdf .

Topic – Incorrect Bank Info When Applying for SSB

Hey Marc! – We have a client who recently applied for Social Security online and after it was complete, realized he entered an old bank routing number and account. Do you know the quickest and most efficient way for him to get that changed? He isn’t starting payments until April, so he should have plenty of time!

Answer – It depends on the status of his claim.  If SSA has processed the claim and it is just waiting for his first payday he can change the bank information through the online account.  If it is still in process, he will need to either call the 800# or visit his local office and provide the correct information.

Topic – WEP/GPO (Contest SSA Decision)

Hey Marc ! – I have the fire chief asking me how to contest the reduction in his SS due to his Gov’t pension. Is that even possible? He is single and retiring in 2024 will be age 59. He has worked and you already provided how his WEP reduction affects his benefit.

Answer – Once he files and SSA makes the determination of his benefit based on WEP he can file a Request for Reconsideration, form SSA-561.  It will be denied and then he can file a Request for Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge, form HA-501.

Topic – Social Security’s Top 10 Webpages for 2023

Thought this would be of interest to Hey Marc! subscribers. Another Top Ten List!   Marc:

Please use this link to access the blog.

Topic – Earnings Test (Again)

Hey Marc! – We have a client who is still working but thinking about beginning S.S. next year. Will be below FRA making $24,000 annually.  Assuming the limit is $22,000 at that time, will SSA withhold $1,000 of her SS benefit? Mechanically how does that work? Do they withhold all at once or over the year? How/when does it start to get credited back once they stop exceeding (if that is still how it works?).

Answer – Yes, SSA will withhold $1 of benefits for each $2 she goes over the limit for that year.  SSA will ask when she files what she thinks she will earn and withhold full benefit checks until the amount is withheld.  They will adjust the following year if more or less than her estimate is earned.  Her reduction factor will be adjusted at her FRA to give her credit for any months she did not receive a full benefit payment so her monthly check will increase.

Join us in Orlando on February 23rd!

Topic – Information for Military & Veterans

Just received this email from the SSA.  Marc

Social Security recently redesigned the Information for Military & Veterans webpage on SSA.gov. This new design includes improved navigation to help you find information more easily with clearer graphics to explain what resources are available to you.” -Direct from SSA website. Click here to go to the full SSA page about this.

Topic – Divorced Spouse and WEP/GPO

Hope all is well. I have a case that I’m working on right now where I’m trying to estimate a clients social security benefit. Could you possibly help point me in the right direction?

Here’s info about the client

She just turned age 65 and is divorced (divorce happened more than 2 years ago) and never remarried.

Her ex-spouse (married for 30+ years) is also 65 and has not turned on his own SSA benefit.

She is going to receive a SERS state pension benefit that we estimate to be $1,500 per month.

Her SSA statement on her work history shows it should be worth $974 per month at FRA.

While she doesn’t know anything about her ex-spouses SSA benefit, she says that he “made a lot more money than her” and has always worked in an SSA covered job.

Ex-spouse is still working and probably not looking at retirement in the next few years.

Here’s my questions:

  • Looking back through my notes from our training, it looks like she could claim on her own work history and would be eligible for Independently Entitled Divorced Spouse benefits without needing him to claim benefits first, correct?  CORRECT.   HOWEVER, GPO WILL REDUCE SPOUSAL BOOST BY TWO-THIRDS OF SERS PENSION.
  • I’m guessing her benefit would be reduced by the WEP CORRECT… Would the WEP OR GPO have any effect on the Spousal benefit?  SPOUSAL BOOST WILL BE REDUCED BY GPO.
  • Is there anyway to estimate what she might receive without knowing anything about the spouse’s benefit?  YOU NEED TO KNOW EX-SPOUSE PIA. 
  • How would she go about getting any information about what her benefit might be worth from SSA?   CONTACT SSA AT 800.772.1213.  WILL NEED TO PROVIDE DIVORCE DECREE AND POSSIBLY MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE.
    • Is it best to call in to SSA, schedule a time to meet with someone, etc. CALL SSA FIRST TO SCHEDULE A VISIT TO THE LOCAL OFFICE.
  • As we talked about in our training, it seems like you get different answers from different people at SSA… What’s the best way to get to someone that knows what they are talking about?  TALK WITH SSA AND THEN E-MAIL US WITH DETAILS OF CONVERSATION.  ASK FOR A SURPERVISOR IF NOT COMFORTABLE WITH SSA REPRESENTATIVE.

A question that she asked and I know what the answer is, I’m just not sure how to best explain it to clients. Any recommendations?  LUMP SUM DISTRIBUTION WILL NOT AVOID WEP OR GPO.  SSA WILL DETERMINE MONTHLY BENEFIT AMOUNT AND ADJUST ACCORDINGLY. 

  • The state pension plans have a partial lump sum option where you get a portion of your retirement benefit upfront as a lump sum, but you still receive a monthly benefit. People ask if that would help reduce the WEP effect on their SSA benefit since their income from the pension is lower.

Topic - Earnings by Year in SS Online Account

Hey Marc! – I am not able to locate my earnings by year.  Has SSA removed this from my online account?

Answer – SSA did move earnings by year.  You can download your earnings history through my Social Security online account.  Log into your account and on the bottom of the home page you will see a link under earnings  “Review Your Full Earnings Record Now”.  Click on this link for the complete earnings history.

Topic - SSA Phishing Emails reported

An advisor sent this phishing e-mail regarding their SS benefits/account.  (FYI – subscribers to Hey Marc! receive notifications like this prior to other advisors.  Please renew if you have not already per earlier e-mail.)

Subject: Attention! Dear: Deactivation Notice for your SSN ID:2023124909# Contact us..



          All your SSN services has been terminated by the SSA.
To know more about the case docket please refer to the given attached notice.

Team SSA,


This mail was sent to at 18-January-2023 12-49-09.

Social Security Talk

Link to our third SS Talk Podcast with your hosts Marc Kiner and Jim Blair.

Topic –Ex-Spouse and Incorrect SSA Advice

Hey Marc! – A new case has come to my attention where the ex-wife of over 10 years died.  The ex-husband has remarried but remarried after age 60.  He went to SSA to file on the ex-wife’s record (widower benefits) and was denied.

  • Married over 10 years
  • Divorced more than 2 years (not an issue-MDK)
  • Remarried after age 60
  • Has not filed on his own record

He’s good to file on her record, correct?

Answer – Yes, he is good to file.  He should appeal the denial.

Topic –SS Estimate on Statement / COLA

Hey Marc! – Have the benefits on the Social Security statement been adjusted for the 8.7% COLA? 

Answer – The Social Security benefit statements do include the most recent 8.7% COLA.

Have a super weekend.

Topic – Great Grandchildren

Hey Marc ! – Here is the situation. Dad murdered his wife, and he went to jail and is now out. They have a 4-year-old and the court gave full custody not to the grandparents but to the Great Grandparents. Dad is disabled. Would the great grandparents be entitled to In Care benefits and the child entitled to benefits until he is 18? I was not sure since it passed down to the great grandparents. I know there would be a family max. Can you break that out for me in percentages if this works?

Answer – A Great Grandchild does not qualify for benefits from a Great Grandparent.  If the Mother had earned credits the child should be eligible for benefits from her record.  If Dad is eligible for disability the child will be eligible for benefits from his record.  The Great Grandparents would be the representative for the child as his guardian.

Topic – Widow Benefit off Deceased Husband on SSDI

Hey Marc ! – Quick question regarding SSDI:  I have a client whose husband died a few months ago.  He was age 59 and she is 60, and they were both collecting SSDI benefits.

The SS office called her and told her she’s eligible for an increased benefit based on her deceased husband’s record.  Is this correct or is there anything I’m missing?

Answer – She is eligible for a widows benefit at age 60.  Apparently his benefit off of the deceased spouse is higher than her SSDI.  Her widow’s benefit will be reduced for age if she takes it now.  She will remain technically entitled to her disability, so she keeps her Medicare entitlement.

Topic – Filing for Benefits

Hey Marc! – If someone is planning on filing at the FRA and their FRA is March 6, 2023, should they file before that date or on that date? When would their first check be received?

Answer – You can file for benefits up to 4 months in advance so they can file now.  Benefits will be effective March and the first payment received the 2nd Wednesday of April.

Topic – Earnings Test (mom’s earnings)

Hey Marc! – A woman referred to me whose husband passed in November at age 46. She is also age 46.

She is scheduled to collect SS for her two kids ages 11,13. She isn’t currently working. She will go back in 2023.  Will her earnings affect the SS her children receive?

Answer – Her earnings will not impact benefits to the kids.  Her earnings will only impact benefits that she might receive.  She might want to consider applying for the child in care benefit while not working.  However, the Family Maximum will limit the benefits paid to the kids and herself. 

Topic – Probing Social Security Questions

Another discussion with a client, (Chloe), and Probing SS Questions

Marc – When were you born?

Chloe – 1952

Marc – Are you married?

Chloe – No

Marc – Divorced?

Chloe – Yes

Marc – How long married?

Chloe – 20 years

Marc – Are you and your ex-spouse both eligible for Social Security retirement benefits?

Chloe – Yes

Marc – How long divorced?

Chloe – 10 years

We discussed with Chloe the opportunity for her to file a Restricted Application to receive benefits off ex-spouse.  Additionally, Chloe should make application effective six months prior to receive a lump sum check.  At age 70, Chloe will switch to her own retirement benefits. 

I believe that knowing which questions to ask is just as important as understanding Situational Social Security.

Topic – Probing Social Security Questions

It is important for advisors to understand how to ask probing Social Security questions to uncover additional benefits for clients.  Below is a phone call with an individual.  We will call him Frank!  Let’s call me Marc!

 Marc – When were you born?

Frank – 1953 (I knew immediately that a Restricted Application was a possibility.)

Marc – Are you married?

Frank – No

Marc – Divorced?

Frank – Yes

Marc – How long were you married?

Frank –Around 9 years and 3 months.

Marc – Do you believe that you might have satisfied the ten-year rule?  Send me your divorce decree and we will check the filing date stamped on the document.  The ten-years will end on the date the decree is filed with the court.  If you meet the ten-year rule you will be able to file for benefits off of your ex via a Restricted Application.

Frank – Ok, I will send

 Well, upon receipt we were able to determine that Frank had indeed met the 10-year rule.  As a result, Frank was able to file a Restricted Application and collect a benefit off ex-spouse while waiting to age 70 to collect his own benefit.  Frank was also able to receive six months of retroactive benefits to boot!  Frank was very, very, very happy and has sent us several clients!

Topic – Full Retirement Age / Commencing Benefit

Hey Marc! – I have an individual that will turn 66 on February 13.  She will reach FRA in August.  If she starts taking SS in August or September, will her benefits be reduced, since she will start in the month of or later of reaching FRA?  I am reading some conflicting reports relating to whether her benefit would be reduced or not, so I thought I should just ask the experts.

Answer – She can begin benefits with August 2023 and receive 100% of her PIA.  No reduction for age 😎.

Topic – Download Social Security Statement

Hey Marc! – I have a client who is unable to download his XML files from SSA.gov.  He currently has filed for, and was approved for, disability benefits due to start in February (although he did just get a call saying his claim was rejected – that might be a whole other issue!).  Anyhow, I know the SSA system itself isn’t having an issue because I was able to download my own file.

Does the system block someone who is currently collecting any benefit from downloading their XML files?  That doesn’t seem right to me.  Afterall, it’s now the only document where you can go back and see year-by-year earnings since the start of a taxpayer’s work history.

Answer – I’m not sure what the issue would be.  I receive benefits and can download my file so it’s not that unless they changed something when they update their website.  He may need to call the 800# and ask for assistance.

Topic – FERS (WEP / GPO)

Hey Marc! – If the person takes the FERS supplement at age 60, does that technically count as starting the pension and GPO will apply to the widow benefit? Or can the person collect the widow benefit at 60 with no GPO reduction and collect the supplement?

Answer – If under FERS, neither WEP or GPO will apply as the individual paid Social Security tax on their wages.

Topic – COLA and the Online Account

Hey Marc! – Just wanted to confirm with you – does the FRA estimates for someone that is reaching FRA in June 2023 include the COLA increases?  Trying to estimate monthly benefit and do a projection on income for 2023.  I am referring to the FRA estimates on the My Social Security Account login.

Answer – The online account should now include the 8.7% COLA effective December 2022.

Topic – SSDI and Retirement Benefits

Hey Marc! – We have a client who filed for SSDI and is waiting on the application.  I wasn’t sure, but she can file for retirement benefits while waiting correct?  And then if she’s approved, they will bump her up to the higher SSDI benefit, correct?

Answer – Yes, if someone age 62 or older files for SSDI they can file for reduced retirement benefits while waiting on the decision.  If approved the reduction will be removed for all months covered by the disability payment.  If the disability is denied they will stay on the reduced retirement benefit.

Topic – Earnings Test – Included Income

Hey Marc! – If someone has a State/Government job and is not having SS withheld from their paycheck, are they still subject to the earnings test if they collect SS they earned base off their work record?

Answer – Yes, earnings test includes ALL earned income.  SS covered and non-covered earnings are all included in the Social Security Earnings Test. 

Topic – Divorced Spouse

Hey Marc! – It’s been several years since I’ve had a divorcee!  Since the rules changed regarding spouses where one cannot file and suspend and must file for benefits for the other to file on their record, does the same hold true for ex-spouses?

Are there any other requirements that I should know about?

Answer – As long as they have been divorced for 2 years or more the ex-spouse can file as long as they are both age 62 or older.  The worker need not file in this case for benefits to be payable.  This is the Independently Entitled Divorced Spouse. 

Topic - SSA Website Redesign

SSA has a redesigned website.  Yippe!!!   See blog – Link is here.

Topic – WEP Calculation

Hey Marc ! – How is WEP reduced benefit computed if beginning SS prior to FRA?

Answer – You reduce the benefit at full retirement age by $558 (in 2023) and then would reduce that amount by age.  If you want a more accurate number go to his account and print the earnings statement instead of the benefit statement.  The earnings statement link is normally found at the bottom of the online home page.

Join us this morning at 10 EST for the SS Open Forum.  Link

Topic – Voluntary Suspension (another horror story from SSA)

Hey Marc! – My client, age 67, is currently collecting his SS benefits.  He called SSA to suspend his benefit so he could start to receive DRC’s.  SSA told him he could only do so if he paid back the SS benefits that he had received so far.  She said that was a recent rule change.

Is that correct? If not, is there a POMS reference I can provide my client with?

Answer – To my knowledge the rules have not changed and your client can suspend any time starting with FRA.  POMS section GN 02409.110 covers voluntary suspensions.

Topic – SSDI and Work

Hey Marc! – Question:  Can someone remain on SSDI and Medicare when returning to work?

Circumstance:  30-year-old male currently on Social Security Disability due to 3 kidney transplants (1998, 2005, 2019).  This fall he returned to work part-time in a warehouse in a temporary seasonal job ending this month, and wonders if he should call Social Security to report his return to work. He also thinks he may be offered a full-time job there.

Q – Will he lose his disability from working a temp job, and therefore lose his Medicare?

Q – If he gets a full-time job, may he keep his Medicare for a period of time (especially given repeated kidney failure every six years or so?

Answer – The short answer is yes.  The longer version is disability recipients have a 9-month trial work period.  A trial work period month is any month they work and earn $1,050 or more.  The nine months need not be consecutive.  They will receive benefits during the trial work period regardless of their earnings.  After the 9th month, they could have a continuing disability review and either benefits will be terminated, or they can be placed in an extended period of eligibility (EPE) for 36 months.  This decision is made on a case-by-case basis and is based on the individuals condition.  Medicare continues during these periods.  It can last longer if the individual is working but still disabled.  It can last up to 5 years.


Your colleagues can take our class at a 40% discount during our Holiday Special webinars.  Tuition for new advisors is $477 versus $795.  Details:  (discount code is “nssaspecial”).  (code for current advisors is “returningw”)

December 27 & 28 (10 – 2 EST both days) – Registration Link.

December 29 (8 – 4:30 EST) – Registration Link

As you remember, we emphasize Situational Social Security and how to ask Probing SS questions to uncover additional SS benefits for your clients. At the end of the class advisors will understand the questions and issues that relate to every unique client.

Topic – Earnings Test

Hey Marc! – My birth date is 4/30/58.  I will retire at 65 and one month 5/31/23, prior to full retirement age.  From 1/1/23 to 5/31/23, I will earn $150,000 earned income.  After 5/31/23, I will never have any further earned income.

  1. If I elect SSA benefits 6/1/23 will I have any reduction in benefits due to the 5/31/23 and prior earned income?
  2. Assuming the answer to question 1 above is no, how does SSA know my earned income ended on 5/31/23?   Clearly my 2023 Form 1040 does not reveal that fact.

Answer – You will inform SSA when filing for Social Security that your monthly earnings from June – Dec will be zero/$0.  The SS application will ask for this information. You can use the monthly earnings test in 2023 instead of the annual test.   Your benefits will not be impacted due to the earnings test.   The monthly earnings test in 2023 is $1,770.

Topic – State Pension

Hey Marc ! – Chloe worked for the state and gets PERA.  Her Social Security report says she would get $746/mo benefit at age 62.   John will get $,2011/mo at age 62.  When we run Social Security Timing, the suggested timing is for John to take his social security at age 70 and Chloe as well. It says she would get $0. Wouldn’t Chloe’s benefit be reduced to a maximum of half her benefit due to PERA? Also, if John predeceases Chloe, does Chloe get John’s social security in addition to her PERA benefit?

Answer – I am assuming Chloe’s PERA is based on wages not covered by Social Security, thus subject to WEP/GPO.

Chloe’s Social Security retirement benefit is reduced due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).  Based on her benefit amount, I am guessing she has less than 20 years of substantial Social Security covered wages.  If that is correct Bend Point #1 will be 40% instead of 90%.  This can reduce her benefit by as much as $558 in 2023.  It can be less if her AIME is less than $1,115.

The Social Security spousal benefit is reduced by 2/3rds of her PERA pension due to the Government Pension Offset (GPO) (also known as Grumpy Partner Offset).  If John dies before Chloe, she will receive 100% of his Social Security reduced by 2/3rds of her PERA pension.

Topic – SSDI or Retirement Benefits

Hey Marc! – My sister-in-law turned 66 on August 15, 2022 and will reach full retirement age on December 15. She is currently in a residential Mental health facility but will be released tomorrow. She has not applied for Social Security benefits and the psychiatrist is telling her to apply for Social Security disability benefits. She has PTSD and is bipolar. She has not worked since May but has only been under psychiatric care for 3 weeks. They are currently telling her she can’t get a job at this point in time.

Is there any benefit to her in applying for disability benefits or is it too late considering her full retirement age is in 3 weeks?

Answer – I don’t see any reason for your sister-in-law to file for disability.  Disability has a 5-month waiting period which would be June through October.  She would draw disability for 1 month and then it would be converted to retirement at full retirement age effective December.  She can file for retirement to be effective November and it would be reduced 5/9ths of 1% or wait and begin with December with no reduction.  Unless she has been in contact with Social Security prior to November any retirement benefit cannot begin before this month.

Topic – Incarcerated Individuals

Hey Marc ! – Will the wife of an incarcerated ex-husband be eligible for a spousal benefit on her ex-husband’s work history? Would it make a difference if they were not officially divorced?

Answer – Only the individual’s benefit who is incarcerated are suspended.  Others entitled on their record will continue to receive payments.  If they were not officially divorced the spouse is not eligible for benefits unless the worker had filed for benefits and they are only suspended because of his incarceration.  If he had not filed before going to jail she will not be eligible because he never established his application.

Topic – Restricted Application / Lump Sum

Hey Marc! –  I took the NSSA program last June and was on your open forum last Monday.  Last Thursday I had a couple come to me with a “situation”.  His dob is 10/21/1953 and her dob is 9/15/1954.   They have had mixed messages from SS. They asked if he could draw the spousal benefit off her SS if she files.  I told them I thought he could but she has to file first.  He would collect spousal until he turns on his age 70 benefit next year in November.  I am not sure this is the restricted application, just filing for spousal benefit.   So for the next year he should get one half of her SS benefit and she gets her full benefit by filing, right?  It is still all a little confusing when the facts start flying with other people’s numbers.  I would appreciate any guidance you can provide to confirm or correct my thoughts.

Answer – you are correct.  He can file a Restricted Application for a spousal benefit.  They can both file at the same time.  His age 70 benefits will begin in October, 2023 and not November as he turns age 70 in October.  Consider the following strategy:

  1. Wife files for her benefits in November 2022, effective in May, 2022.
  2. Husband files a RA in November 2022, effective in May, 2022.
  3. Husband files for his own benefits at age 70.

They both receive lump sum checks.  Both applications can be filed online.  We can assist with the online filing.  Fee is $250 for both applications.

Have a great weekend.

Topic – Benefit off Ex

Hey Marc! – I have a client who is going to be 65 in Jan. She’s divorced and no longer speaks to her ex. He’s an immigrant, but has worked long enough to get SS and is a little older.  He is already receiving his benefit. Let’s say his benefit is $1,000 per month and she’s entitled to 50%.  If she claims off ex-spouse now, prior to claiming hers, can she switch to her own benefit at her Full Retirement Age? And will SS give us the information on what is available off ex-spouse?

Answer – She must take her own Retirement benefit when she files due to Deemed Filing.  She was not born by 1.1.54 and cannot file a Restricted Application.  Deemed Filing requires an individual to receive all eligible benefits when filing.  Generally, an individual will receive their own benefit and a spousal boost if applicable. She should contact SSA for information on benefit off ex-husband if necessary.   SSA number is 800.772.1213. 

Topic – Restricted Application and Lump Sum Opportunity

Hey Marc! – I recently received my SS Advisor certificate and I have a client that has a question about social security. The client is 69 and his wife is 74.  He plans to take his social security at 70.  With the Restricted Application is she able to switch and file on her spouse’s benefits?

Answer – She cannot switch as she has been receiving benefits for over a year.  The Do Over is not available.  Also, he is not receiving his benefits, so a spousal benefit is not even payable.  When he turns on his SSB, she might be eligible for the spousal benefit boost.  HOWEVER,  HE SHOULD file a Restricted Application and claim a spousal benefit off her record.  He was born by the magic birthdate of January 1, 1954.  He should make the RA effective 6 months ago resulting in a nice lump sum check.  Do not delay.  We can assist with the application.  Our fee is $250.  You will be a hero in the eyes of your client with this strategy.

Topic – Widow Benefit – COVID Death

Hey Marc! – had a client inquire on behalf of a neighbor who recently lost her husband to COVID. The surviving spouse was told by SS that she in entitled to receive her SS benefit AND his because he died from COVID and they have been paying her both benefits since April.  My bet is that someone at SS made a mistake, and that SS will come calling for a repayment of benefits. I can’t imagine cause of death being COVID would change what a surviving spouse is entitled to receive. Am I right?

Answer – SSA is incorrect.  There is no exception for COVID deaths.  However, she is probably receiving a benefit off deceased husband’s record to bring her up to a full widow benefit.  So, in essence, she is receiving her benefit and an additional benefit off deceased.  I guess, SSA is correct in some way.  Ugh!  Mar

Topic – Divorce Spouse Benefit and GPO

Hey Marc! – Had a call yesterday with a client who is quite confident her SS amt off her ex-husband’s record is stronger than her own. She does not know if her X-has filed or what the amount would come to. 

How do x-spouses find out in that scenario?  Also, she is receiving a state pension.  Does GPO apply?

Answer – She should contact SSA to determine amount of benefit off ex-husband.  If divorced less than two years, ex-husband must be receiving a benefit before she can claim off his record.  She will need to supply a divorce decree and probably a marriage certificate to support 10 years of marriage.  Of course, GPO, (Grumpy Partner Offset), will apply reducing benefit off ex by two-thirds of state pension.

Topic – SS Myths

Hey Marc ! – I am delivering a SS presentation at our firm’s annual holiday client brunch (500 people – mostly retired and approaching retirement age). I would like to design a “MYTH BUSTERS” style presentation around SS.

If you have a moment, what are the top SS MYTHS that I can “de-bunk/bust” for the audience? 

Answer – Five myths are below.

Myth – The nice SS representations at the local office will provide advice and guidance.

Answer – No, the representations will take your application but not provide advice or guidance. 


Myth:  Social Security is broke.  Congress stole all the money from Social Security.

Answer:  Social Security has 2.8 trillion dollars in US Treasury bonds.  As the funding decreases they will cash in the bonds.  They are fully funded through 2034.  If nothing is done SSA will still have money coming in (i.e. FICA tax and income tax collect on Social Security benefits) but only enough to pay 80% of benefits.


Myth:  Social Security computes your benefit using you last 5 years of earnings.

Answer:  Social Security uses your highest 35 years of earnings to computer your benefit.  They use 35 years in the computation even if you don’t have 35 years of earnings.


Myth:  You must notify Social Security at age 65 even if you are not filing for benefits or Medicare.

Answer:  You do not have to contact Social Security to tell them you are not filing.


Myth:  I will never collect all the money I paid into Social Security.

Answer:  You will be paid all the money you paid in taxes in about 4 years if you file at your full retirement age.

Topic – Taxation of SSB

Hey Marc ! – I just wanted to get your take on the potential tax impact on the COLA increase related to people being taxed more and how that could we impact distributions from their investment portfolios etc. question can you give me some commentary on the impacts of this change? 50% versus 85%.

Answer – Unfortunately, the taxable amounts are not indexed for inflation so as benefits go up folks are subject to their Social Security being taxes or taxed at a higher rate.  It is all dependent on their other income, so your question is more of a tax advisor question.

Topic – Common Law Marriage After Divorce

Hey Marc ! – My sister-in-law lives in Columbus Ohio. She divorced from her husband many years ago and she was married to him for 8 years at time of divorce.

After the divorce they stayed together.  According to her, there was common law marriages in Ohio at the time, and though they were divorced they stayed together for several years and filed joint tax returns.

Her husband or should I say Ex-husband died 20+ years ago when he was in his 40’s and she is now 63.

Question – Is there a potential survivorship benefit? Or is it cut and dry that she is not because she was not married for the 10-year requirement. Her local office quickly told her she is not entitled to a benefit.

Answer – Actually, there is no time limit for a common law marriage.  The recognition of common law ended in Ohio in 1991.  The issue your sister-in-law has is the divorce.  She will need to show the common law continued and they held themselves out to the public as married after their divorce.  Certainly, filing as a married couple will help.  What other documentation does she have?  Things like mortgages or rent contracts or any other documentation will help.  It doesn’t hurt to file and get an official determination.

Topic – FRA and Effective Start Date

Hey Marc ! – If a client’s birthday is 8/2/1956, is his FRA effective start date of 66-4 months in December or November?

Answer – FRA is December.  If he had been born 08/01/1956 FRA would be November. 

Topic – Retirement Benefit / Surviving Ex-Spouse Benefit Options

Hey Marc ! – Quick question.  I have a client who will be turning 62 in January.  SS retirement benefit is around $750, and she makes around $16,000 a year income.  Her ex-husband is deceased.  They were married over 30 years.  His death PIA is over $3,000 per month.  Ex-husband had not filed for SSB before he died.  The plan is for her to file for retirement benefit at age 62 and then switch to the survivor benefit at FRA.  Is this doable?? 

Answer – Yes, she can take her own at 62 and switch to the surviving divorced ex-spouse benefit at her FRA for survivor benefits.

Topic – Survivor Benefits / SSA Report

Hey Marc! – Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise in today’s meeting.  I just wanted to follow up with a quick note to see if you’d been able to determine the name of the form or report I would have clients ask for when they go into the office (or call in) that details their potential survivor benefit amount.  I get nervous accepting just a verbal amount when advising clients on decisions regarding lifetime income streams!   ….. not that I think a SS rep could ever be wrong, but…. 😉 

Answer – It is called the Benefit Matrix.

Topic – WEP / GPO on Inherited N/C Pension

Hey Marc! – Can you clarify for me. 65 female is drawing survivor benefit from her deceased husband. She remarried after age 60 to a man that has non covered pension and when he retired he included survivor benefit for her on his pension. Will GPO apply to her current survivor benefit from deceased husband or her own work history which will be greater at age 70 if her current husband passes away?

Answer – She did not work for the government, so she is not subject to WEP or GPO. 

Topic – Social Security Terms

Hey Marc! – Does SSA ever define terms like COLA, Credits, Earnings Record, FICA?

Answer – SSA just issued a blog defining these terms.  Link.

Topic – Restricted Application – Divorced Spouse

Hey Marc ! – I know in the NSSA® class in Kansas City you said that someone could still do a Claim and Suspend (really means Restricted Application!) on a Divorced spouse.

I think I had it come up recently at a SS workshop, asking if a person could do a Restricted application on a Divorced spouse.

Answer – Assuming they meet the magic date of 01/01/1954, a divorced spouse can file a restricted application on their ex-spouse’s record.  If divorced for 2 years or more the ex-spouse doesn’t even have to be receiving a benefit.

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