The New Social Security Statement: How to Navigate Your New Monthly Benefits Statement

the new social security statement

The Social Security monthly benefits statement that most people are familiar with has been around since 1999. That means we’ve been looking at the same Social Security statements for the last 22 years… and it’s high time the Social Security Administration gave their paperwork a modern makeover.

They did just that recently, and I want to walk you through what to expect when you see this new format come to you in the near future. While some people began receiving the new Social Security statements in May, the rollout is still in progress – so don’t be surprised if your statement still looks the same as it always has.

Once you do get your hands on the newest version, you may notice there are a few elements that you’re probably used to seeing that will no longer be included. Meanwhile, other aspects of the statements are brand-new and you want to make sure you fully understand those.

Read more

A Social Security History Timeline

Young or old, you’ve likely heard of Social Security. You may even have some experience with it while planning your retirement or helping relatives navigate the complexities of Social Security, disability, or Medicare.

But why was the Social Security Act created? And how does it work today? Let’s look at the Social Security history timeline and how the benefits could impact your financial future.

Read more

Your Guide to What Social Security Numbers Mean

what social security numbers mean

If you’ve ever applied for a job, loan, or credit card, you’ve probably been asked for your Social Security number. In many ways, your Social Security number is as much a part of you as your date of birth—it follows you from birth to death and can serve as a key to your sensitive information.

It’s clear that having one is vital because it’s used in various ways. You probably even know the number by heart. But have you ever wondered what Social Security numbers mean?

In this guide, discover what a Social Security number is, how to decode the numbers, if they’re reused, and what your number says about you.

Read more

Top 7 Questions on the Government Pension Offset (GPO) 

government pension offset questions

Have you ever worked in a government job where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes? If that job also allowed you to earn a pension, then it’s critical that you understand the Government Pension Offset, or GPO.

The Government Pension Offset rule can drastically reduce, or even completely eliminate, your Social Security spousal or survivors’ benefits. That’s why it’s so important that if you ever worked in a public service job and earned a pension from your position, you take the time to learn everything you can about the GPO and how it could impact your Social Security income.

The Government Pension Offset’s mechanics are really simple: Your survivors’ or spousal benefits from Social Security will be reduced by an amount equal to two-thirds of your gross pension.

That’s a nasty surprise for the people who didn’t know about it, or fully understand how to plan for it. To avoid finding yourself in that situation, education is key. I’m sharing the top 7 questions I receive about the Government Pension Offset to help provide just that, so you can better plan for a successful retirement. 

Read more

Navigating Social Security as a Couple

Figuring out when you and your spouse will each take Social Security retirement benefits can be a complex decision with unintended consequences. It’s important to understand how each spouse’s claiming decisions can affect you both. That’s why it’s important to think through your claiming strategies before either of you are ready to retire.

Here are three questions that can help you make the best decisions for your Social Security benefits individually and as a couple:

Read more

How Social Security Disability Benefits are Calculated

How Social Security Disability Benefits are Calculated

If you’re faced with a career-ending disability, you may wonder what kind of support the Social Security Administration offers.

In addition to retirement benefits, Social Security covers disability benefits as well to provide an income for disabled individuals who can no longer work. If this applies to your situation, it’s worth understanding how Social Security disability benefits are calculated so you can know what to expect. 

Read more

Are Social Security Offices Open? 

texarkana social security office

On March 17, 2020, the Social Security Administration closed all its offices to the public for in-person services due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

For those who were accustomed to receiving face-to-face service to address issues with or questions about their benefits, this has been a massive shift in how they interact with the federal agency. 

More than one year later, the pandemic is officially still ongoing — but the strict lockdowns and business closures that we saw last spring have eased considerably. With restaurants and retail stores operating mostly as normal, you might wonder, are Social Security offices open too?

Read more

Can You Get Medicare at 62? Why You May Be Able to Soon

can you get medicare at 62

Ever wondered why you can’t get Medicare at 62 but you can get Social Security at 62? 

You would think that these two critical systems for retirees (and those who will soon stop working) would be coordinated to the same age of initial eligibility. 

Sadly, that’s not how the current rules are written. You can’t get Medicare at 62 today, but that could change in the near future if a group of lawmakers gets their way. 

Read more

Survivors’ Benefits: Exceptions to the Marriage Length Requirement

Survivors’ Benefits: Exceptions to the Marriage Length Requirement

There are approximately four million individuals receiving monthly Social Security benefits based on their deceased spouse’s earnings record. These come in the form of survivors’ benefits, which provide the majority of annual income for many of the recipients.

There’s no question that survivors’ benefits are an important lifeline that the Social Security Administration provides to widows and widowers who no longer have a spouse who can help manage household expenses.

Unfortunately, there are cases where a widow or widower is told that they are not eligible for these critical survivors’ benefits because they did not meet the core requirement for eligibility.

There is a strict rule that says in order to receive survivors’ benefits, individuals must meet a marriage length requirement. Social Security requires that your marriage lasted at least 9 months to qualify for benefits. 

While this rule is fairly strict, there are numerous exceptions for individuals who lose a spouse after a marriage that lasted less than 9 months. Here’s what you need to know.

Read more

What is the Minimum Social Security Benefit?

what is the minimum social security benefit

The minimum Social Security benefit provision is an alternative benefit that increases benefits paid to low-income individuals. 

Where the regular Social Security benefit formula bases the benefit amount on an individual’s lifetime earnings, the minimum Social Security benefit formula is based on the number of years a person has worked with earnings at or above a certain threshold. 

The benefit amounts are still calculated through both formulas, but with the minimum Social Security benefit provision, the higher of the two benefits is the amount provided to qualified individuals. 

Read more