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?
> 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
> 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
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
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.
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?
Yes. If you retire mid-year, we count your earnings
for the entire year.
We have a
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
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?
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
Do my family members qualify on my record for
Social Security benefits while I am alive or only when I die?
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.
What is the Trustees Report on Social Security's
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
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
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.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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