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 - 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..

Attention

 


          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,

USA

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.

HOLIDAY SPECIAL WEBINARS

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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