recognize that some members of the public may require in-person
assistance and we will have a presence in local communities’
2014 – Despite a hard push to encourage seniors and others who need
benefit verification letters from the Social Security Administration to
obtain them online, the agency today issued a news release confirming
that local Social Security offices will continue to provide benefit
21, 2014 - Most of the questions asked in the Social Security Q&A have
to do with benefits - when should you take them, how can you estimate
them - and it is the same this week. There is an unusual divergence this
week, however, as a self-employed person asks about how to pay the
estimated tax for Social Security and Medicare.
processing many claims in states that do not
recognize same-sex marriages or non-marital
legal relationships - Also see 'Sen.
Wyden Welcomes Carolyn Colvin to Head Social
20, 2014 - Social Security has published new
instructions that allow the agency to process
more claims in which entitlement or eligibility
is affected by a same-sex relationship. These
instructions come in response to last year’s
Supreme Court decision in U.S. vs. Windsor,
which found Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage
You better read this Social Security Q&A column
before you get too far along with this plan!
June 3, 2014 – There is a question below in this
week’s Social Security Q&A you should read. There is an idea for
boosting a retirees Social Security benefit that still gets kicked
around, although it has not been allowed for several years, as Oscar Garcia,
Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration,
points out in answering a senior’s question. There is also a question
from a divorced widow – an area where Social Security can often be
Group of specialized disability
examiners to identify trends, develop strategy for use nationwide
March 31, 2014 – A new unit within
the Social Security Administration is being created in New York to
identify frauds and detect trends that can help the agency to identify
potential fraud in future disability cases across the U.S.
This week’s Social Security Q&A explains something
few beneficiaries understand
28, 2014 – Earning over the limit is a common problem for Social
Security beneficiaries and probably few understands the actions the
agency takes to help them “recoup” benefits deducted before reaching
full retirement. It is explained in this week’s Social Security Q&A. It
also looks at how some can get Medicare coverage before age 65.
Your benefit amount is higher if you begin receiving
benefits closer to your full retirement age
March 21, 2014 - When can you apply for Social
Security benefits and how do you do it? Some rather basic questions
answered in this week's Social Security Q&A for boomers who are just
becoming old enough. And, there is the major decision for those thinking
about applying - should you take early retirement?
Social Security Q&A this week answers this and has
more information for disabled veterans on faster processing of their
application for help
15, 2014 – The age for applying to receive Social Security benefits used
to be simple, because it stayed the same. Now, the age for receiving
full benefits keeps moving higher. But, what about early retirement, a
reader asks? The Social Security Q&A has the answer. It also provides
more details for disabled veterans on the recent move to “high priority”
for disability assistance requests.
Switching between government non-Social Security
employment and that covered by Social Security gets complicated
March 8, 2014 – Many of us who depend on Social
Security for helping fund our retirement may forget it also plays a
critical role for U.S. citizens who become disabled and are forced into
retiring before they are old enough to collect normal benefits. The
Social Security Q&A this week answers a question from someone desperate
for this help. The column also addresses a frequent concern of those who
switch back and forth in work situations not always contributing to
Social Security – it gets complicated.
Q&A also has details on getting SSA number for child
adopted from another country
Jan. 27, 2014 – Too many of today’s senior citizens
probably regret they did not start preparing for the financial
challenges of retirement much earlier. The Social Security Q&A column
this week has some suggestions and references to online sources of help.
Veterans must have a VA disability compensation rating of 100% P&T and
show proof of their disability rating with their VA Notification Letter
Feb. 20, 2014 - Social Security announced yesterday a new initiative to
expedite disability claims for veterans with a Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total
(P&T). Under the new process, Social Security will treat these
veterans’ applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions,
similar to the way the agency currently handles disability claims from
Wounded Warriors. The program begins March 17.
National Committee wants to end Congressional efforts
to reduce the program and put spot light on making it better
10, 2014 - A new campaign to persuade Congress to increase the benefits
provided by Social Security was launched last week by the National
Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. With most of the
Congressional efforts in the last few years being aimed at reducing the
cost of the program, it may seem, at first, to be at odds with public
opinion. But, maybe not. There is considerable polling to show Americans
do place great value on Social Security.
Small business owners should know SSA has services
online to help complete W-2s
Feb. 6, 2014 - Do you have to pay income tax on the
Social Security benefits you receive? The answer in this week’s Social
Security Q&A may surprise many. Did you know the Social Security
Administration has online help to assist small businesses with their
W-2s? Another answer that may be news to many.
Social Security Q&A also has instructions on how to
get your retirement estimate online
3, 2014 – The “my Social Security” account has been receiving
considerable attention lately, including a complaint from the Social
Security Advisory Board that it should not replace the annual mailed
paper statement. It has also become a tool for crooks to try to grab
personal information from senior citizens online, according to this
week’s Social Security Q&A column. There is also information at how to
get your retirement estimate online.
Presidential notes that Social
Security often is not enough but often no solutions to make it better -
By Tucker Sutherland,
Jan. 30, 2014 – President Obama
yesterday signed a presidential memorandum to begin his “opportunity
agenda, including MyRA, that he calls a “new type of savings bond,” that
will help more Americans save for their retirement through automatic
payroll deductions. He told workers at U.S.
Steel this is the fourth part of the opportunity
agenda he introduced the night before in the State of the Union, which
is aimed at “making hard work pay off for every single American.” He
noted that Social Security is often not enough for a secure retirement.
MySSA online is commendable but advisory board still
has three big concerns
By Tucker Sutherland,
Jan. 23, 2014 – There are probably millions of
senior citizens cheering the Social Security Advisory Board today after
it released a statement yesterday recommending the Social Security
Administration return to the practice of mailing an annual Social
Security Statement to beneficiaries. That paper statement was
discontinued in 2011 and the MySSA online portal was introduced as the
way to get information.
Also, Many may be unaware of Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) benefits for the disabled
23, 2014 - Judging by the questions being asked and published by the
Social Security Q&A, it seems those wanting to know about benefit
reductions due to earning income after filing for retirement benefits is
increasing. Oscar Garcia, SSA public affairs specialist, walks through
the calculation in this week’s Q&A. He also explains Supplemental
Security Income (SSI) benefits.
May make many low income seniors eligible for additional benefits
Jan. 16, 2014 – Twenty-five new Compassionate Allowances conditions,
including a dozen cancers, bringing the total number of conditions to
225, were announced today by Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of
Social Security. The CLA program expedites
disability decisions for Americans with the most serious disabilities to
ensure that they receive their benefit decisions within days instead of
months or years. This applies to senior citizens – age 65 - or older, blind, or disabled persons (including children) who
have limited income and resources who may be eligible for benefits from
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) disability programs.
Many seniors may be surprised by these questions and
the answers; things you need to know about Social Security
Jan. 15, 2014 - Two good questions are answered
today in the Social Security Q&A by Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs
Specialist with the Social Security Administration. A senior wants to
know if taking early retirement means the benefit will continue to be
reduced. And, a wife wants to know why she is not getting credits for
earnings she and her husband earn in joint business.
SSA-1099 forms reporting benefit payments for 2013
will be mailed by January 31
Jan. 9, 2014 – Many are surprised they have to
report their Social Security benefit on their income tax form, but it is
explained by Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist, with the Social
Security Administration in this week’s Social Security Q&A. He also has
an answer for a military retiree who wonders if he can also get a Social
This week’s Social Security Q&A gives good synopsis
of Medicare health coverage but not of impact on senior citizens by
Affordable Care Act
Jan. 6, 2014 – In answering a question about
changes in Medicare due to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Oscar
Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security
Administration may leave the wrong impression about the Affordable Care
Act (Obamacare) and its impact on seniors and others covered by
Medicare. Medicare beneficiaries have received many benefits from this
health care law but they do not need to coverage offered in the
clarification is offered by SeniorJournal.com in another
do you get your COLA for 2014?; what else changes next year
Dec. 23, 1013 – Senior citizens in Social Security
do get a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase in 2014 but there are
other changes in the program, too, that are detailed by Oscar Garcia,
Informational Specialist with the Social Security Administration, in
this week's Q&A on Social Security. He also explains when you can
receive spousal benefits, while spouse receives benefits, too.
There are many ways
to get Social Security information other than going to an office
11, 2013 - Increasingly, older Americans are choosing to stay in the
work force after retirement age. How does continuing to earn an income
impact there Social Security benefit? Oscar Garcia, Informational
Specialist with the Social Security Administration, has the answer in
this week's Q&A on Social Security.
Also, how long does it take to get a replacement
Social Security card?
14, 2013 - There are various strategies on how o tyou receive your Social
Security benefits. How to delay your benefits and receive them as a
spouse is one of the answers in this weeks Q&A by Oscar Garcia,
Informational Specialist with the Social Security Administration. And,
he has an easy but important answers about how fast you can replace your
U.S. Census report uses a new way to
look at poverty; finds rate unchanged between 2011 and 2012 for nation
7, 2013 - Senior citizens are doing poorly, according to the latest
poverty report from the U.S. Census Bureau. The nation's poverty rate
for all ages was 16.0 percent in 2012, unchanged from 2011, according to
the supplemental poverty measure released yesterday. But more than half
of America’s 65 and older (54.7 percent) would be living in poverty if
Social Security income was not included in the supplemental poverty
On Monday, vets, their widows and widowers can learn
how to increase lifetime retirement benefits by
$100,000 or more with savvy claiming strategy for social security
Nov. 6, 2013 - This Veterans Day (Monday,
November 11), both retired and active duty
military and widows and widowers of the fallen are being offered free
access to an online tool detailing how to make the most of retirement
income from Social Security, with the potential to add
$100,000 or more to their lifetime
benefits by following a savvy claiming strategy. Read
Average monthly benefit goes to $1,294; up $19 a
Oct. 30, 2013 -
Security Administration this morning announced the cost-of-living
adjustment (COLA) for 2014 will increase benefits by 1.5 percent next
year, one of the smallest increases in history. The average monthly
benefit will increase to $1,294 from $1,275 this year. For an average couple the
monthly benefit goes to 2,111 from $2,080 this year.
questions about disability, benefits for children and working for
29, 2013 – The questions this week for Oscar Garcia,
Informational Specialist with the Social Security Administration seem to
indicate at least some seniors are considering returning to work. And,
as always, many have questions about benefits for their family members.
Most experts predict a record low 1.5 percent
increase – or less
29, 2013 – Halloween may come a little early for senior citizens, but
hopefully it will be an early Christmas. The Consumer Price Index for
September is due to be released tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. by the Department
of Labor Statistics. It is the last number needed to determine the
Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2014, which is
currently projected to be a small bump of 1.5 percent or less. It was
only 1.7 percent for 2013. The Social Security Administration says they
will announce the COLA “sometime tomorrow.”
More than 90% of SSA recipients do not maximize
benefits because they are unaware of their options; army of advisors to
help 72 Million baby boomers
Oct. 24, 2013 – When should I start receiving my
Social Security benefit? It is a question asked often and answered very
often by financial columnists and spokespersons for the Social Security
Administration. Now, a Cincinnati based company is building a business
on it. Premier Social Security Consulting, is gathering an "army of
advisors" nationwide to educate baby boomers on the most optimal time to
access Social Security benefits.
The cost-of-living allowance for seniors and others
on Social Security was delayed due to ‘lapse in funding’ by Department
of Labor’s CPI determination
Oct. 18, 2013 – Senior citizens and others on
Medicare will find out their pay increase for 2014 on Wednesday, October
30. The Department of Labor says that is the day it will release the
Consumer Price Index for September, which is the last number needed to
calculate the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2014. Current
estimates are an increase of 1.4 or 1.5 percent.
Congress fails to increase the debt limit key payments to seniors may
not be made
14, 2013 – The National Council on Aging (NCOA) joined the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) in
strongly urging Congress to end the government shutdown and extend the
debt limit to December 2014, without putting at risk the Social
Security, Medicare, and other benefits that millions of older Americans
need to "stay healthy, independent, and secure."
National Committee, a leader in battle against
chained CPI to determine social security COLA, issues study on
detrimental impact, provides informational sources
13, 2013 – One of the most strident opponents of changing the consumer
price index used to calculate the annual cost-of-living adjustment for
those on Social Security is The National Committee. It released a study
earlier this month on the potential impact with the headline, “…Billions
of Dollars and Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs Would Be Lost While
Seniors, Veterans and Disabled Put at Risk.” The group’s news release
called it a “startling” report.
Oct. 10, 2013 - The U.S. Department of Labor has
issued a short statement saying it will not be issuing the September
results for the Consumer Price Index, because of the government
shutdown. This means they will not be calculating the cost-of-living
allowance for Social Security beneficiaries in 2014. No alternative date
Organization uses report to also
highlight its opposition to chained CPI to determine COLA for Social
Oct. 7, 2013 – AARP, one the
organizations representing older Americans that has been a staunch
defender of Social Security and opponent of the chained CPI for
determining the COLA, released a study last week reporting that each
dollar paid to Social Security beneficiaries generates nearly two
dollars in spending by individuals and businesses, adding about $1.4
trillion in total economic output to the U.S. economy in 2012.
SSA should make it official on October 15, after
September CPI is calculated; advocates keeping close eye on chained CPI
proposed by Obama, CPI for elderly ignored for years
By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com
Oct. 3, 2013 – Senior citizens will get a very
small increase in their Social Security benefit next year, according to
the current projection by The Senior Citizens League. With only the cost
of living change for September to go to complete the calculation, the
2014 COLA (cost-of-living allowance) will be about 1.5%, according to
Shannon Benton, Executive Director of TSCL. The official word from SSA
is expected on October 15.
The Seniors Citizens League (TSCL)
continues to be an unrelenting fighter to preserve Social Security and
the cost-of-living allowance now in place - COLA for 2014 should be
announced this month
Tucker Sutherland, editor
2, 2013 – While most of the media attention on the U.S. government is
focused on the Republican efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act, and
the government shutdown this has caused, many seniors are worrying more
about their Social Security and the cost-of-living allowance (COLA)
increase that is normally announced in October. And, too, there is
plenty of concern about a proposal to change the way the COLA is
determined – using a different consumer price index – that most experts
predict will significantly decrease these increases.
Some services and field offices will manage only limited activities
Sept. 30, 2013 – The Social Security Administration has issued its
plan for operation if the federal government is shutdown tomorrow (Oct.
1, 2013) by the effort of congressional Republicans to block funding for Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) and, most importantly, checks will
continue to be sent to beneficiaries.
is an easy way and then there are options a little tougher for SSA to
recover any overpayment
20, 2013 – The often asked questions is answered again by Oscar Garcia,
Informational Specialist with the Social Security Administration. He
also has answers for a more touchy question - what happens when you do
not repay and overpayment from SSA.
Social Security Q&A author also reminds seniors there
is help available to pay for Medicare
11, 2013 – Social Security, like other government agencies, is
scrambling to swing into action to meet the requirements of the Supreme Court decision on
the Defense of Marriage Act, which requires that same sex married
couples be treated the same as couples of opposite sex. Oscar Garcia of SSA says
those who think they are due benefits should apply now. He also reminds
seniors there is help for some to pay Medicare premiums.
Social Security pays spouse claims for same-sex
couples; Medicare changes nursing home coverage in Medicare Advantage
Sept. 3, 2013 - Social Security and HHS made
announcements in August of changes in their programs to meet the demands
resulting from the Supreme Court's rejection of the Defense of Marriage
Act. Social Security has begun paying spouse claims for same-sex couples
and Medicare is providing spousal nursing home care in Medicare
Advantage without consideration of sexual preferences.
And, there are easier questions answered by SSA's
Oscar Garcia that apply to benefits, which are a lot more important to
most senior citizens
1, 2013 – In this week’s Social Security Q&A a thirty-year-old wants to
know why he should be made to contribute to a plan that is not going to
be there when he reaches retirement age. And, a happy contributor to the
system wants to know if his benefits will be penalized because his wife
does not contribute to the system. Oscar Garcia, public affairs
specialist with the Social Security Administration has answers for them
senior needs to show proof of his income from SSA and wants to know if
this is available online.
June 12, 2013 - Many options involving Social
Security depend on your spouse and Oscar Garcia, public affairs
specialist with the Social Security Administration, explains several of
them to a senior who wants to know why there are so many questions about
spousal history when we apply for benefits. He also tells another senior
how to get proof of his benefit online.
Average family has $3,000 retirement fund says new
study by National Institute on Retirement Security; Sen. Harking
wants ‘secure source of income for life’
Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com
June 21, 2013 – With millions of retired senior
citizens struggling to make ends meet, there appears to be millions more
that will soon join them in battling to stay out of poverty in their
final years. A report released yesterday showing the average family has
just $3,000 in retirement savings prompted Senator Tom Harking (D-IA) to
announce he will offer a bill “to give every American access to a
retirement fund that will give people a secure source of income for
An interesting one today - do family members
qualify on your record for Social Security benefits only when you die?
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
Downhill slide will
begin with 2021; depleted in 2033
3, 2013 – There was little news in this
year’s Social Security Board of Trustees
annual report on the long-term status of
the trust funds, since there was no
change from last year. Everything is
fine until 2021, when the cost of the
program seems destined to exceed income.
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 – As more senior citizens and others
create personal online accounts at Social Security, there is a natural
increase in questions about their records. Oscar Garcia, writing for the
SSA Q&A explains what to do if you find part of your work history
missing. He also has an answer for a senior wanting to know if they have
to buy Medicare Part A – hospital insurance.
Q&A also looks at what happens if you take early
retirement and then earn more income than is allowed
May 20, 2013 – One of the questions most asked by
those nearing Social Security retirement age is about the decision to
retire early or wait until reaching full retirement age. It all depends,
according to the Q&A by Oscar Garcia of SSA. He also answers a couple of
key questions by seniors who took early retirement or disability
Popular new personal
online accounts available at Social
Security now attracting crooks to try ‘phishing’
May 14, 2013 – As a sure sign of the popularity of
the new “my Social Security” account, the criminals are using "phishing"
E-mails encouraging senior citizens to create an account. Rest assured,
any email promoting this are not coming from the agency, according to
information from the Social Security Administration.
Q&A column also suggests your lowered benefit from
early retirement may get a future boost
13, 2013 – There is a new incentive to move senior citizens into the age
of smartphones: Social Security has a new version of its website
designed for mobile devices and is in the social swirl, according to
Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist with SSA in this week’s Q&A.
And, there is more good news: when you take early retirement in Social
Security your benefit may still get a boost in future years.
SSA information specialists tells how to estimate
your retirement benefit; explains factors affecting a widow’s benefits;
how to apply for disability
April 25, 2013 – Ever wondered how Social Security
determines your retirement benefit? Or, wanted to get an idea before you
retire of what your benefit will be? These are some basic questions of
the program that are answered by Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist
with SSA in this week’s Q&A. For those younger Americans seeking
disability under Social Security, he also has answers at the end of this
Republican chair of House Ways and Means subcommittee
on Social Security issued news release blasting Treasury secretary; in
opening says reducing COLA only would be called ‘benefit cut’ in
April 18, 2013 – The first congressional hearing on
the budget cuts to Social Security proposed by President Obama is
underway. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tx), chair of the Social Security panel of
the House Ways and Means Committee, released his opening statement and
the prepared testimony of witnesses. The Texas Republican also released
a news release this morning accusing Treasury Secretary Jack Lew of
making “conflicting statements” about the Chained CPI before the full
HHS Secretary Sebelius in witness chair today on
total budget for HHS, CMS with Social Security proposal the target this
April 12, 2013 – The Republican lead House Ways and
Means Committee has grabbed the lead in questioning President Obama’s
2014 budget proposals for the Department of Health and Human Services,
which includes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. HHS
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify there today and next Thursday
the hearing topic will be on entitlement reform proposals, with emphasis
on the controversial Chained Consumer Price Index, which will be used to
lower cost-of-living adjustments for seniors and others in future years.
media reports say focus of White House is to strike a ‘Grand Bargain’
with Republicans who want to change Medicare into a voucher-style
system; Medicare proposal has one revenue item - higher premiums
for couples making more than $170,000 a year
April 11, 2013 - The White House says its budget is
a good start toward controlling government entitlement programs by
offering proposals to curb the growth of Social Security, Medicare and
other federal benefit programs. The budget blueprint, released
Wednesday, includes what the president called "manageable" curbs on
Medicare spending growth, but GOP congressional leaders were dismissive,
while some Democrats and virtually all senior citizen advocacy groups
Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a Q&A about
inflation calculation that will slow cost-of-living adjustments for
April 11, 2013 – The term “COLA” is a part of the
Social Security program that has been highly cherished by senior
citizens. It stands for “cost-of-living adjustment,” and was the
government’s way of being trying to keep retired older Americans from
seeing their Social Security benefits eaten away by inflation. Now, the
Obama administration has come up with a new way to calculate inflation
that will reduce COLA in the future. It is called the chained consumer
price index and below is a Q&A on this method provided by the Bureau of
More spending on Medicaid, mental health; replacing
current formula for Medicare pay to doctors
April 11, 2013 – Senior citizens have – rightly so
– primarily focused on the cuts to Social Security and Medicare in the
2014 budget proposal from the White House that was presented yesterday.
Media sources have found other parts of the budget that may also impact
many seniors - funding boosts for mental health and food and drug
safety, as well as the elimination of the SGR formula to set Medicare
physician payment rates. It also delays funding cuts to hospitals that
treat the uninsured.
Senior advocates seem solid in opposition to cuts
expected to appear Wednesday in President Obama’s budget; Congressional
call-in on Wednesday
April 8, 2013 – Groups that advocate for senior
citizens and senior issues appear to be solid in their opposition to
budget moves advocated by Republicans and now supported by the White
House that will cut income from Social Security and reduce spending by
Medicare. A survey released today by AARP says 84% of American voters
age 50 and older oppose the chained CPI proposal for reducing Social
Security benefits for years ahead.
Social Security specialists points out many survivors
could be eligible for benefits; also promotes Retirement Estimator
5, 2013 – A surprising number of people may be eligible to receive
Social Security survivors benefits, according to Oscar Garcia, Public
Affair Specialist with the Social Security Administration. He says, in
answer to a question, “Think of your Social Security taxes as a life
insurance policy you never knew you had.” He also has some assurances
about the agency's Retirement Estimator.
Countless consumers victimized each year by
misleading advertisers who use "Social Security" or "Medicare" to entice
the public to use their services
March 25, 2013 - Thinking you are doing business
with Social Security can be a costly mistake when you have been mislead
to a website posing as the official government site, says Oscar Garcia,
Public Affair Specialist with the Social Security Administration. He
also advises prompt notification of a beneficiaries death to another
question in this Social Security Q&A.
Women need to familiarize themselves with what the
program means to them in their particular circumstances
11, 2013 - Understanding Social Security benefits may mean the difference
between living more comfortably versus just getting by in retirement,
especially for married women. Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist with
the Social Security Administration addresses a question about a woman
receiving her own work retirement and benefits as a wife.
If you did not get yours you can request it online;
Retirement Estimator is just that – an estimator
Feb. 19, 2013 – The Social Security Administrations
says seniors should have received their benefit statements for 2012 and
Public Affairs Specialist Oscar Garcia adds four tax tips for seniors
and answers a key question about the agency’s Retirement Estimator.
Feb. 14, 2013 - Outgoing
Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue has some
parting shots for Congress, the White
House and advocates for seniors. They have all "really walked away
Security," he says, leaving the program "fraying
because of inattention to its problems." Instead of making the hard choices to fix
Social Security's financial problems, policymakers "use it as a tool
of political rhetoric," Astrue said in an interview with the AP.
Read at Yahoo/AP
Critical and practical information available to
senior citizens with new Social Security personal account - you need
a new password if you used the old account
Jan. 31, 2013 – Social Security wants you to
open your personal online account to keep up with the information
about you that is maintained by the agency. They suggest people sign
up for the free "my Social Security" account when they begin working and continue to
use it throughout the time they receive benefits.
'The commitments we make to each other through
Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our
initiative, they strengthen us' - see video
Jan. 22, 2013 –
President Barack Obama generally drew praise from senior
citizen advocates for the words in his inaugural address
yesterday that signaled his commitment to preserve the
“entitlement programs” of Medicare, Medicaid and Social
more, see video...
Group backed by Envelope
Manufacturers Association may have issue headed to a hearing in the
House of Representatives
21, 2013 – Senior citizens receiving their Social Security benefits by
paper check may continue to do so after the March 1 deadline for
converting to direct deposit or prepaid credit card, according to a
report in the Houston Chronicle and Print Week magazine. “It turns up
the checks still will be showing up in the mail after all,” writes
Chronicle reporter L. M. Sixel.
Treasury Department urges remaining paper
check recipients to make the switch now to direct deposit or a prepaid
card - see video
March 1, 2013
Jan. 8, 2013 – Senior citizens still
receiving their Social Security benefits by paper check must take action
soon - March 1 is the final deadline by which all remaining federal
benefit check recipients must receive their money electronically. That
is the date the electronic payment law goes into effect.
Groups representing 60 million older Americans oppose
cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Cost-of-Living
Dec. 17, 2012 - The Leadership Council of Aging
Organizations (LCAO) - who together represent over 60 million older
Americans - expressed grave concerns about proposed cuts to
Medicare, Medicaid, the Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment
(COLA), and discretionary programs like the Older Americans Act as part
of the emerging budget agreement.
Retirees may find value in different retirement
strategies: some are discussed here in Q&A by SSA specialist
Dec. 11, 2012 – Those nearing eligibility for
Social Security need to apply early to be sure the benefits begin when
needed, says Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist, SSA, who also
offers some ideas on retirement strategies, like suspending retirement
benefits and receiving delayed retirement credits.
$200 billion in savings to come from
GOP trick to change way inflation is calculated, thus reducing COLA for
Social Security and slow Medicare benefit increases
Dec. 4, 2012 - The House
Republican’s made a counteroffer to President Obama’s earlier budget
proposal and it that for big cuts in the critical programs for America’s
senior citizens – Social Security and Medicare – while still refusing to
allow taxes to rise back to previous levels for the wealthiest
taxpayers. The While House rejected the plan because it rejects the tax
increase and does not meet his "test of balance."
‘Congress should not make last-minute
deals that would jeopardize the promise made to current and future
generations that they receive the Social Security and Medicare benefits
they have contributed…’
Nov.15, 2012 - In an AARP survey
fielded immediately following the 2012 election, 70 percent of Americans
age 50 or older say that they believe a separate public debate about the
future of Medicare and Social Security is needed and changes should not
be part of any end-of-year deal addressing the nation’s budget deficit,
often referred to as the “fiscal cliff.” Almost all (92%) older
Americans also said that it is very important that Washington listen to
ordinary citizens when it comes to decisions about Medicare and Social
Field offices will
close daily at 3 p.m. starting November
19; January 2 will begin closing at noon
13, 2012 -Social Security field offices
across the U.S. will begin closing 30
minutes earlier on November 19.
Employees, however, will still be at
work. The agency says the early closing
to the public will allow agency staff to
process claims work without incurring
the cost of overtime, which has been
severely limited by reduced funding by
Half collecting or planning to collect benefit before
full retirement age; more than half not knowledgeable about maximizing
benefits; 83% concerned about program
Oct. 31, 2012 – Many older retired Americans do not
understand key issues surrounding Social Security, says the BMO
Retirement Institute. Consequently, they are losing out on a significant
amount of money that could be used to fund their retirement.
Average retired senior will get $21 per month more;
retired couple $34
16, 2012 - Senior citizens will get a slightly larger cost-of-living
adjustment (COLA) for 2013 than most people were estimating. The Social
Security Administration announced today the increase in the monthly
benefit for almost 62 million older Americans will be 1.7 percent.
Oct. 11, 2012 - “Next year, the
Social Security COLA for 2013 is
expected to be 1.4 percent - and
for many seniors, much of that
will be eaten up by a higher
Medicare Part B premium,”
according to Mark Miller of
Signing up can be done quickly from home but time needed for payments to begin; can divorced wife get benefits from ex’s SS
and her own later?
Aug. 27, 2012 –
Signing up for Social Security today is a snap compared to just a few years ago, when you had to go a Social Security office. It can be done
from home today, but Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist with Social Security says seniors still need to apply early to be sure the
benefits begin when they need them. Here are his answers to questions about applying and about applying as an ex-wife.
There are things women in particular should know about Social Security
3, 2012 – There are a lot of things most of us don’t know about our senior entitlements – Social Security and Medicare. Oscar Garcia, Public
Affairs Specialist with SSA, answers a couple of them here – are benefits calculated differently for men and women, and does Medicare cover us
outside the U.S. Read more...
Link to GAO report "Retirement Security: Women Still Face Challenges."
testimony by hearing witnesses
video of Senate hearing
• GAO on purpose of report on women and retirement
Summary of GAO report
At hearing on Retirement Challenges for Women, Sen. Kohl also pushes for higher minimum benefit
July 26, 2012 – At a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging yesterday - “Enhancing Women’s Retirement Security”
- Chairman Herb Kohl, D-Wis., called on the Social Security Administration to do more to help older Americans understand their benefits.
SSA PR specialist has advice on options for spouses and surviving beneficiaries
• What options do I have when it comes to receiving my own or my
husband’s Social Security?
Do I have to wait until 62 to receive survivors benefits?
July 25, 2012 - Some of the most challenging questions about Social Security benefits involve the rights of those
eligible for spousal or survivor benefits. Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration provides answers to a
couple of the most common of these questions. Read more...
Provides estimates for benefits. It also provides workers as young as 18 a “convenient”
way to determine if their earnings are accurately posted
June 29, 2012 – It has been less than two months since the Social Security Administration
kicked off the My Social Security program and already a million people have gone online to create and account and view their Social Security
statement. Read more...
Popular questions from those who face Social Security retirement decisions are answered by Social Security specialist
Should I Retire?
• How will part-time work affect my Social Security?
• What if I work after drawing benefits?
May 30, 2012 – Almost everyone nearing the age when they can begin drawing from Social Security under the early
retirement provision faces the question – “Should I take early retirement or wait until I reach the full retirement age?” Here a Social
Security specialist provides the facts, answers related questions and points the way to more help by Social Security.
‘Congress should examine the inequities that have created a poverty rate for senior women and widows that is 50% higher than
14, 2012 – Three advocacy groups joined forces to make a presentation to congressional staff today on their research examining the challenges
facing elderly women and their families and the importance of Social Security. Their report, Breaking the Social Security Glass Ceiling, proposes
initiatives to ensure Social Security benefits are adequate for all Americans, particularly for women and women of color.
Senior citizens relying on Social Security to pay medical bills will have only 39% of payment left for other expenses
10, 2012 - A 65-year-old senior couple retiring this year is estimated to need $240,000 to cover medical expenses
throughout retirement, according to the latest retiree health care costs estimate calculated by Fidelity Investments. And, if the health care
reform bill – “Obamacare” – is overturned by the Supreme Court, seniors can add another $20,000 to their costs, according to a report by Bloomberg.com. Read more...
Also offers information on other questions about Social Security and Medicare - people who never worked, when do payments
3, 2012 – There may be as much as $4,000 in financial help available to people on Medicare who need help paying for their prescription drugs,
according to Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. He also answers questions about Social Security for
those who have never worked and when a senior’s benefit begins payments. Read
Simple, easy to use tool for
planning your retirement with better knowledge of your Social Security account
May 1, 2012 – Your Social Security
account – or statement – is now available online to help in planning your retirement. The program is “simple” and “easy-to-use,” said
Commissioner Michael J. Astrue in making the announcement today.
2012 Reports underscore the need for a national conversation on strengthening retirement security for Americans; action
soon by Washington
April 23, 2012 – AARP’s statement on the Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports for 2012 emphasized that there is
time for action on the looming financial crisis for senior citizens and called for a “national conversation on strengthening retirement
security,” which is a campaign it recently launched. The statement emphasized Social Security funding appears secure until 2033.
Social Security Trustees annual report to the Congress contains troubling, but not unexpected, projections about Social
April 23, 2012 – The combined assets of the Social Security Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2033 – three years sooner
than projected last year by the Social Security Board of Trustees.. At that time, there will be sufficient non-interest income coming in to
pay about 75 percent of scheduled benefits they project in their annual report to Congress.
The decision for senior citizens about early retirement is a common one; few know how survivor benefits are determined
- video on how to enroll online
April 19, 2012 – Social Security is of critical importance to most older Americans, but few really think about it until
the time comes to make a decision about when to apply for the retirement payments, which can be as early as three months before turning age
62. What a surviving spouse will receive is another question most never consider until they lose their loved one. Below are answers from a SSA
spokesperson and help on getting more information. Read more..See video
'You’ve Earned a Say’ gives platform for older Americans who have paid into these programs to have a say in their future -
March 19, 2012 - AARP leaders at events across the country today announced the launch of You’ve Earned a Say, which the
organizations describes as a national conversation about strengthening health and retirement security. AARP says this program is taking the
debate about Medicare and Social Security out from behind closed doors in Washington and making sure that all Americans have a voice in the
discussion about their future. Read more, see video
Patty Duke Show star has volunteered for years to help promote Social Security’s online services to fellow baby boomers -
Jan. 23, 2012 - After years of telling people they can apply online for Social Security in their pajamas, Patty Duke has
taken her own advice. Duke turned 65 last month and applied online for retirement and Medicare benefits from home.
Read more, watch video...
‘Means testing’ to bolster Social Security? It’s already
By Allan Sloan (Washington Post, 3-1-2012)
It’s almost time for one of Washington’s
rites of spring: the arrival of the new Social Security trustees’ report. The report, which is usually issued in April, will show
Social Security’s finances deteriorating because of a higher-than-projected inflation adjustment for 2012. This is likely to touch off
a debate over whether to help fix Social Security’s financial problems by denying retirement benefits to “the rich.” On the surface,
this approach, known as “means testing,” sounds great. Eliminating payments to retirees with incomes above a certain level would make
more available to folks in need. Those greedy rich need to pay their fair share, right?
But here’s a dirty
little secret: Social Security is already seriously means-tested. And my situation shows it.
System maintenance begins Saturday night, ends Monday morning
Dec. 15, 2011 – Online services provided by the Social Security Administration, including such
services as applying for benefits online, will not be available from 11 p.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. Monday. The temporary shutdown is due to
regular system maintenance. Read more...
Basement case suspects held 4 mentally disabled captives while taking their SSA benefits
2, 2011 - A bill introduced in the Senate this week will close loopholes in the Social Security system that allowed suspects in the
Philadelphia basement case to bilk their captives of their Social Security benefits and avoid police for years. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) says
his bill... Read more...
TV superstar Don Francisco helps announce retirement and medicare extra help applications
18, 2011 – Social Security’s most popular online services – the applications for retirement and Medicare and for Extra Help with
Medicare prescription drug costs - are now available in Spanish. The new online services are available at
www.segurosocial.gov, which is the Spanish version of Social Security’s award winning website,
www.socialsecurity.gov. Read more...
Republicans say 'no' to tax hikes but will consider Medicare price increases
Nov. 1, 2011 – Many senior citizens bolstered by advertising and lobbying efforts by AARP and other advocacy groups to
protect Social Security and Medicare, may have been lulled into a sleep by the secretive discussions of the super panel considering how to
balance the U.S. budget. The gloves came off yesterday, however, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared to move the bulls eye
squarely on to Social Security and other senior entitlement programs. Read more...
Most senior citizens will see an increase in Social Security of about $43 in 2012, producing a gain after Part B cost of
39.50 per month
Oct. 27, 2011 – The wait is over. Medicare announced the premiums and deductibles senior citizens will be paying in 2011,
which included the increase for the most expensive premium seniors pay, Part B, which many feared would wipe out the cost-of-living increase
in Social Security. The news is good, at least for most seniors, the increase in Part B will be just $3.50, which barely touches the $43 COLA
increase for the average senior. Read more...
Announcement due this week - what will it mean to you?
Oct. 24, 2011 - Millions of senior wait for the other shoe to drop…the one they may squash their 2012 increase from
Social Security. This year, for the first time in two years, senior citizens and others depending on Social Security will receive a
cost-of-living increase for 2012. The other shoe, however, is the cost of Medicare Part B for 2012, which could wipe out the COLA gain.
Cost-of-Living Adjustment is First Since 2009; see details, questions answered by Social Security
19, 2011 - After two years without a cost-of-living increase, Social Security will give senior citizens and others on Social Security a 3.6
percent increase in 2012. The SS monthly payment for the average retired worker will go from $1,186 in 2011 to $1,229 in 2012 – an increase of
$43, according to the announcement Wednesday. Read more...
GOP appointee to Super Committee, Rep. Fred Upton, says senior benefits should not be cut for those in program
20, 2011 – The group that organized earlier this year to protect the Social Security and Medicare benefits of senior citizens –the Strengthen
Social Security Campaign – thinks they have found a possible critical ally in a Republican appointee to the new super committee charged with
making a big dent in the deficit. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) says that current Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries should not face any
reductions in benefits, according to the SSSC. Read more...
Sen. Kohl releases GAO report showing need for strong screening of those making financial decisions for incapacitated
Aug. 11, 2011 – There is a greater need for screening and oversight of guardians appointed to make financial decisions
for senior citizens and other adults that are incapacitated – primarily on Social Security - says Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), Chairman of the
Senate Special Committee on Aging. Read more...
Agency again urges seniors to switch from checks to Direct Deposit
Aug. 2, 2011 - Social Security payments for August 3rd will be
made on time and as scheduled, according to Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. Payments for August 10th, 17th, and 24th also will be made as scheduled.
All field offices will close 30 minutes earlier each day
July 22, 2011
– A one billion dollar cut by Congress in the Obama budget proposed for Social Security will cause the agency to begin closing field offices
nationwide to the public 30 minutes early each day. The new hours will begin on August 15, according to an announcement today by the
commissioner. Read more...
Proposals include raising payroll tax cap, raising retirement age, adding public workers
July 18, 2011 – The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) makes clear its opposition to benefit cuts in Social Security that
would impact any Americans age 50 or older, but says there are alternatives to reduce the budget in less painful ways.
AARP TV ad fighting cuts to
senior programs. See video
CEO reaffirms opposition to cutting Social
Security, asks seniors to pledge help in fight; AARP kicks off TV ad
urging protection for SS and Medicare
June 20, 2011 – The Wall Street Journal stirred up
a storm last week when it quoted in a news story AARP’s policy director
John Rother saying the senior advocacy group was dropping its objection
to cutting Social Security benefits. AARP CEO A. Barry Rand fired back
that the report was inaccurate and that AARP has not changed its
position on Social Security.
Read more, see
Senior citizen advocacy groups not alarmed by 2036
deadline, see time for fix
May 15, 2011 - The Social Security Board of
Trustees late Friday (May 13, 2011) released its annual report on the
financial health of the Social Security Trust Funds and said they will
be exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than projected last year.
one year sooner than projected last year. Most senior advocacy groups
were not alarmed (see comments below news report).
Seniors, others currently receiving federal benefits
by paper check must switch to direct deposit by March 1, 2013.
April 27, 2011 – Starting on May 1, the U.S.
Treasury will switch to an electronic payment method for Baby Boomers
and others signing on for Social Security, veterans’ affairs payments or
other benefits. Senior citizens and others currently receiving their
federal benefits by paper check must switch to direct deposit by March
1, 2013. The move is projected to save taxpayers $1 billion over ten
Around two-thirds of budget is
spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security -
April 13, 2011 - President Barack Obama on
Wednesday shared his plans to cut the deficit by $4 trillion in 12
years, which, according to a fact sheet distributed by the White House,
includes saving $480 billion in health care costs by 2023. Obama
proposes holding Medicare cost growth down by strengthening the
Independent Payment Advisory Board and making Medicaid more flexible
without using block grants. And, about the other program vital to senior
citizens, Social Security, his fact sheet said, “No current
beneficiary should see the basic benefit reduced; nor will we
accept an approach that slashes benefits for future
President Obama lays out his
budget reduction plan on Wednesday, to change course for Medicare,
Medicaid, Social Security
11, 2011 – Still reeling from the Republican proposal to severely cut
Medicare and Medicaid and to push Medicare toward a private insurance
program, senior citizens are now bracing for cost reduction proposals
for entitlement programs expected on Wednesday from President Barack
National advocacy group plans week of activities,
new radio spots, use of social media
March 28, 2011 – A news
conference and rally featuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be
held in Washington today to kickoff a nationwide mobilization effort by
the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. It is
part of the group's “Hands Off Our Social Security Campaign.”
citizens like this idea and the idea for increasing eligibility age says
March 9, 2011 –
Persuading you (senior citizens) to go back to work, or continue to
work, is a popular idea with most Americans for making Medicare and
Social Security more financially viable, according to a new Harris Poll.
But, guess which age group likes this idea the most – older people. The
public and the seniors also likes the idea of raising the age for
joining these programs.
New survey finds
lack of COLA hurting seniors as over 60% see their expenses rise,
Medicare premiums reduce checks
Feb. 3, 2011 -
Forty-four percent of seniors are receiving lower Social Security checks
this year compared to 2010, while even more are dealing with
significantly higher expenses. The findings come from an annual survey
of elderly Americans, released earlier today by The Senior Citizens
League (TSCL), which claims to be one of the nation's largest
nonpartisan senior citizens advocacy groups.
'Distributional Effects of
Accelerating and Extending Increase in the Full Retirement Age,'
a policy brief, finds pluses and minuses in raising the retirement age
by Glenn R. Springstead, Social
Security Office of Retirement Policy
28, 2011 - This policy brief analyzes the distributional effects of increasing
Social Security's full retirement age (FRA),
the age at which Social Security pays full unreduced benefits. Under
current law, the FRA is 66 years for newly
eligible beneficiaries and is scheduled to increase incrementally to
67 years between 2017 and 2022.