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Social Security Q&A

Social Security Specialist Answers Questions About Benefits, Explains Latest Trustees Report

An interesting one today - do family members qualify on your record for Social Security benefits only when you die?

Today's Questions

> I am 67 years old, and I have not started my Social Security. Is there a limit on my earnings if decide to start my benefits?

> I worked the first half of the year, but plan to retire this month at the age of 62. Will Social Security count the amount I earn for this year when I retire?

> I have been receiving Social Security for two years. My wife just started her own benefits last month. Why do we receive our benefits on different days of the month?

> Do my family members qualify on my record for Social Security benefits while I am alive or only when I die?

> What is the Trustees Report on Social Security's trust funds?

June 7, 2013 - Most questions tossed at the Social Security Administration by senior citizens seem to evolve around the amount of the benefit an individual will receive in a variety of situations. Oscar Garcia with SSA answers several of these in this week's Q&A and explains the trustees' annual report on the status of the program.

Question:

I am 67 years old, and I have not started my Social Security. Is there a limit on my earnings if decide to start my benefits?

Answer:

The retirement earnings test applies only to people under full retirement age. There is no limit on earnings for workers who are full retirement age or older such as yourself.

For people who reach full retirement age in 2013, the annual exempt amount is $40,080 up to the month they reach full retirement age. We deduct $1 from benefits for each $3 earned over $40,080 until the month you reach full retirement age. From then on, you can have very high earnings and still receive your monthly benefits.

Question:

I worked the first half of the year, but plan to retire this month at the age of 62. Will Social Security count the amount I earn for this year when I retire?

Answer:

Yes. If you retire mid-year, we count your earnings for the entire year.

We have a special “earnings test” rule we apply to annual earnings, usually in the first year of retirement. Under this rule, you get a full payment for any whole month we consider you retired regardless of your yearly earnings.

We consider you retired during any month your earnings are $1,260 or less, or if you have not performed substantial services in self-employment. We do not consider income earned, beginning with the month you reach full retirement age. Learn more about the earnings test rule at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/rule.htm.

 

Related Archived Stories

 
 

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June 3, 2013

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As more open ‘my Social Security’ accounts there are certain to be more questions for SSA to answer in this weekly Q&A

May 29, 2013

Should You Take Social Security Retirement Early? Here's Answer From IRS Specialist

Q&A also looks at what happens if you take early retirement and then earn more income than is allowed

May 20, 2013

Senior Citizens Warned of Fake Emails Urging Enrollment in ‘my Social Security’

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May 14, 2013


Read more Social Security News

also check Medicare and Senior Politics

 

Question:

I have been receiving Social Security for two years. My wife just started her own benefits last month. Why do we receive our benefits on different days of the month?

Answer:

This is called payment cycling. Benefit payments used to be issued on the third of the month for all Social Security beneficiaries. As of May 1, 1997, payment dates are determined by your date of birth.

Generally, the day of the month you receive your benefit payment depends on the birth date of the person on whose earnings record you receive benefits. For example, if you get benefits as a retired worker, your benefit will be determined by your birth date. If you receive benefits based on your spouse’s work, your benefit payment date will be determined by your spouse’s birth date. Since you and your wife are receiving your respective retirement benefits, your birth dates determine when you receive the payment. 

Here is how it works. If you were born between the 1st and 10th of the month , then you are paid on the second Wednesday of the month. If you were born between the 11th and the 20th, then you are paid on the third Wednesday. Your payment is the fourth Wednesday if you were born between the 21st and the 31st. If the scheduled Wednesday payment day is a Federal holiday, payment is made on the preceding day that is not a Federal holiday.

If you receive both Social Security and SSI benefits, your Social Security payment will arrive on the third of the month and your SSI payment will arrive on the first of the month. You can get a calendar showing the Social Security payment dates for 2013 on our website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/calendar2013.pdf.

Question:

Do my family members qualify on my record for Social Security benefits while I am alive or only when I die?

Answer:

Family members can receive benefits on your record while you are alive. If you are getting Social Security retirement benefits, some members of your family also can receive benefits.

This includes the following people.

Your spouse who is age 62 or older can qualify, and spouses who are younger than 62, if they are taking care of a child entitled on your record who is younger than age 16 or disabled.

It is also possible for a former spouse to qualify on your record, if they are age 62 or older.

Your children up to age 18, or up to 19 if they are full-time students who have not yet graduated from high school can also be eligible for benefits.

Also, a disabled child can qualify, even if they are age 18 or older. If you become the parent of a child (including an adopted child) after you begin receiving benefits, let us know about the child so we can decide if the child is eligible for benefits.

Question:

What is the Trustees Report on Social Security's trust funds?

Answer:

Every year the government-appointed Board of Trustees releases a report on the financial outlook for the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. The 2013 Trustees Report was released on May 31, 2013.

In the 2013 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced the combined trust fund reserves are still growing and will continue to do so through 2020. Beginning with 2021, the cost of the program is projected to exceed income.

The projected point at which the combined trust fund reserves will become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, comes in 2033. This is the same as projected last year. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits.

The Trustees also stated that neither Medicare nor Social Security can sustain projected long-run programs in full under currently scheduled financing. Legislative changes are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers.

If lawmakers take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits. The complete 2013 Trustees Report can be viewed at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2013/.

Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at Oscar.h.garcia@ssa.gov.

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