Contact Us

You are welcome to comment on any posts I put into this blog.  Comments go into a moderation queue, so it may be a day or so before you see them.  Social Security is a serious topic, and I would prefer to keep comments which aren’t serious or are hostile out.

You can also send me your questions about Social Security, both general in nature or about specific problems or concerns you may have about your own case or that of someone close to you.  My email address is socialscuritypotluck@gmail.com

Questions of a general nature will generally be answered in the blog.

In the event your question is about your own situation or that of someone close to you, please specify if you would prefer to receive your answer by email.  I will keep confidential any information you provide as part of your question, just like I did when I worked for the Social Security Administration.

In some cases a problem you may be having is one which frequently occurs.  I may decide to write a post about it in general terms in the blog.  I will, of course, not use any sort of personally identifying information in the post.

14 Responses to Contact Us

  1. Harry Taylor says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. By now I imagine you’ve uncovered the small typo in the CPI-W number you published for June. Of course this won’t make much of a difference since it won’t be used for any future calculations that matter.

    Currently I have a simple question and that is if one was to retire at 62 and received their first social security in December 2011 and then got the COLA increase in the rate beginning in January 2012, one month later, would this be more than waiting until January 2012 to receive the initial payment. I’m assuming a COLA of maybe 4%+ this year, and thinking an immediate increase of 4% would be more than the standard monthly increase of a fraction of a percent for each postponed month. Or will any COLA increase for 2012 be included in an initian January 2012 payment.

    I hope you understand where I’m coming from.

    Best regards,

    Harry

    • ssapotluck says:

      From your statements, it appears that you attain age 62 in October 2011. This means that you were born in October 1949. November 2011 is the first month throughout which you are age 62. The check in December 2011 is payment for November 2011. Whether or not you receive a check in December 2011 is completely immaterial to the COLA which we are presuming will be paid in January.
      If you receive your first check in December, your check amount will be 75% of your Full Retirement Amount. If you receive your first check in January, your check amount will be 75.4% of your full retirement.

      Let’s assume your Full Retirement Amount is $1600.00.

      If you are paid in December, your check amount will be $1200.00 Assuming a 3.5% COLA in January, your check amount that month would be $1242.00.

      If you receive your first check in January 2012, it will be $1206.40 before the COLA is applied. SSA founds the cents down to the nearest dollar, so the actual check amount would be $1206.00 before the COLA is applied. After application of the COLA, the actual check amount would be $1248.00.

      You would always receive checks about $6.00 more each month if you wait until January, but this comes at a cost to you. You would have given up $1200.00 which could have been paid to you in December. $1200.00 divided by $6.00 is 200. It would take you 200 months (16 2/3 years) before you broke even.

      My recommendation is to take the December 2011 check.

  2. darla says:

    Hi there – great site and wonderful help for those dealing with Social Security. I am hoping you can help me with a question on survivors benefits.

    My father passed away two months ago, drawing a benefit of $976.50 monthly but they were deducting $96.50 monthly for medicare, so his actual paid out benefit was only $880 a month. My mother is now drawing disabled survivors benefits {she is 63 and was on SSI prior} and they are paying her $880 a month. Shouldn’t she be drawing the $976.50 that was his base benefit before the medicare deduction, since she isn’t eligible for medicare until age 65? Trying to get her all she can as there is barely enough to pay her bills already.

    Thank you in advance!

    • revenuer says:

      Hello Darla,

      I am putting up your post, but I am going to have Potluck answer your question. He is the Social Security expert and the best person to do it. He will get back to you as soon as he can. Thank you for your post.

    • ssapotluck says:

      Hello Darla,

      Thank you for your question.

      I need a little additional information regarding your mother’s benefits before she became entitled for disabled widow’s benefits (DWB.) You mentioned that she received SSI. SSI would have required her to file for spouse’s benefits (and SSDI, if she was insured) before they would pay her. Was she receiving either spouse’s benefits, on her husband’s account, or disability benefits, on her own account, prior to becoming entitled to DWB?

      If she was receiving SSDI along with her SSI, then she would have begun her Medicare waiting period back when she became entitled for SSDI.

      In any event, she will be limited to what her husband was getting ($976.40), unless her own earnings on her own record yielded a higher benefit amount. The fact that she is also $96.40 (not $96.50) short tells me she may already have Medicare.

      If I am wrong, or misunderstanding the situation, please write back and let me know. It’s OK for you to send me an email if you prefer not to discuss your mother’s business in public.

  3. darla says:

    She was on SSI for the last 10 years or so – I think she went on SSI before my Father started drawing Social Security fwiw. When she turned 63 SSI called her in and made her apply for Social Security based on spousal, as she had not paid in enough to draw on her own. She was drawing spousal plus SSI to bring it up to SSI rate until my father passed away.

    We have been told by Social Security that she will not be eligible for medicare until she turns 65 in September 2012, as that is both the end of the 2 year waiting period and age limit old enough. Currently she is now uninsured since she lost her medicaid when transferring to DWB. We have been told to apply for medicaid through the state by Social Security in a recent letter notifying us that her medicaid was discontinued.

    So I guess I need to go down to Social Security and find out where the other $96.50 is going, since it isn’t going to medicare and it isn’t coming to her – is that correct?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    • ssapotluck says:

      Darla,

      This puzzles me as well. Let me research one more area before you go. I really want to help, and I will get back as soon as I can and let you know what I found out.

    • ssapotluck says:

      Darla,

      We’ll get this one nailed down yet!

      I can’t get the math to work out on this. Since she became entitled to DWB prior to attainment of Full Retirement Age (age 66) there should be a reduction in amount paid to her because of this. Here’s what I need to know:

      Your father’s date of birth and date of death.

      The date your father became entitled to retirement benefits.

      Your mother’s date of birth.

      The date your mother became entitled to spouse’s benefits.

      This will allow me to calculate her reduction factor. She should be getting about 12.4% less than her husband did, because she became eligible for DWB prior to attainment of age 66 — about 26 months early. I am still searching to exceptions to this, because it appears to me that they aren’t reducing her DWB for age.

      But I still think she’s eligible for Medicare. There is a little known provision which can reduce or eliminate the medicare waiting period in disability cases. “Section 5103 of Public Law 101-508 provides that, for a disabled widow(er), each month in the period beginning with the first month of payment for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or federally administered State Supplementary Payments (SSP), is counted toward both the 5-month waiting period for DWB entitlement and the 24-month Medicare qualifying period after December 1990.” In simpler language, the fact that she received SSI based on disability for ten years eliminates her need to wait for a 24 month Medicare waiting period.

      This quote is from POMS DI 11015.020, Crediting Months of SSI/SSP toward the Disability Waiting Period and Medicare Qualifying Period for Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits (DWB). POMS is the set of internal instructions to SSA telling them how to process cases.

      Another thought occurs to me. Did they issue a notice to her when they converted her from spouse’s benefits to DWB? If so, it should tell how her benefits were computed.

      I am asking for a lot of specific information. Please respond by email if you prefer. My email address is socialsecuritypotluck@gmail.com.

    • ssapotluck says:

      Darla,

      I am sorry for taking so long to get back to you.

      There is a reduction for age for widows and widowers who become entitled to those benefits before they attain Full Retirement Age (FRA.) The reduction is the same whether the widow(er) is disabled or not. The maximum amount of the reduction is 28.5% if the widow(er) becomes entitled in the month of attainment of age 60 or earlier (back to age 50.) The closer the widow(er) is to full retirement age (FRA) (age 66 in your mother’s case) the less the reduction is.

      You told me that your mother will be 65 in September, 2012. This means she will attain FRA in September 2013. She became entitled to DWB “two months ago,” by which I assume you mean August 2011. This is 25 months prior to attainment of FRA. 28.5% / 72 = 0.396% per month. 0.396% X 25 = 9.9% reduction for 25 months. The amount payable is 100% – 9.9%, or 90.1%. $976.50 X 90.1% = $879.82, which is an approximation. The actual amount payable, $880.00, is determined by SSAs computerized claims system. The paper instructions for determining the amount of the widow(er)’s reduction can be viewed at: Estimating Reduced Widow(er) Benefits.

      I still think your mother is eligible for Medicare now. “Section 5103 of Public Law 101-508 provides that, for a disabled widow(er), each month in the period beginning with the first month of payment for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or federally administered State Supplementary Payments (SSP), is counted toward … the 24-month Medicare qualifying period after December 1990.”

      Your mother had SSI for ten years. if 24 months of those 10 years occurred after December, 1990 (which I’m sure they did,) then she would have no waiting period for Medicare. The employee who told her she did have a waiting period may have been unfamiliar with this section of the law. I was until I researched your situation.

      My reference for this is: Crediting Months of SSI/SSP toward the Disability Waiting Period and Medicare Qualifying Period for Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits (DWB).

      I hope this helps you. Keep me posted.

  4. Hi, I just want to say that I really appreciate this blog and the information it provides. Thanks, and have a great day.

  5. I just want to say a couple of things that are in My head, Lets see Thanks to ssapotluck and revenuer for this blog, I hope I spelled Yer handles correct, It’s a very informative blog, keep up the good work.

    Now I’ve been getting SSI since somewhere in 2003 as I’m a disabled person who’s unable to work, In any case I find that the $674.00 FBR isn’t really all that adequate, I get $830.40 since I live in CA, rents nearby start at about $599 a month, I’m lucky so as where I’m currently living at I get a reduced rate only cause I talked to the owner and cause I pay all My bills, but I can’t rely on this generosity forever as situations change, Presently I have to choose between getting what I need or eating properly or paying for the last of the personal property taxes on a mobile home that I used to own or repairs to My car(tires, brakes, a/c, headliner, oil change, etc), new clothes, saving up money for a move and for utility deposits, pc parts to keep Me from going insane… I’m 51 and I have only a Cat and an empty 100 gallon aquarium, most of My family is dead and what’s left couldn’t or in one case, won’t help(I’m a stranger to Her), so I live on My own, I have joint problems from 2002 when I broke the lower section of My left leg and so I have 3 titanium screws there and two scars, plus two fouled up ankles, I had no rehab, a bad right knee and hip joint(dislocated the hip in 2002), osteoarthritis, My weight is near 400lbs, lets see I have bad eyesight, a low output thyroid, concentration problems(I use a spell checker in this browser to compensate, I’m a self taught typist), severe anxiety problems, depression and My educational background is a GED, I never went to college as My parents were of the age and opinion that a high school degree was all that was needed, both were born before 1925 of course. If I needed to get a newer car than My 12 year old car, I’d be screwed as I can’t afford the payments for the car or for the insurance(I pay the minimum now), what do I need to do? Currently in Jan or Feb I need to start saving up about $1400 for moving and for utility deposits, as I qualify for a mortgage through the USDA on a house or a manufactured house for as much as $60,000.00 cause of My income level and of course My payment history(Rent, utilities, phone), why the USDA? As I have no credit score currently and I don’t qualify for any credit cards, secure cards wouldn’t be of any help as they require a $300 deposit and If I spent $300 I couldn’t at present pay back $300 all at once.

    What I’m getting at is that the FBR that SSI(Supplemental Security Income, Not Social Security) is not good enough anymore to meet peoples basic needs as is stipulated by SSI as the COLAs don’t take into account the value of the US dollars depreciated state, nor the cost of a residence for rent where one can have a pet with them, So what I’d like to see is Congress double the FBR for SSI recipients who need the extra money(from $674 to a max of $1348 a month), SSI recipients don’t always get get Food Stamps(in CA especially, Food Stamps are embargoed to SSI recipients in CA cause a dispute between the USDA/SSA and the State of CA on who should and who shouldn’t get Food Stamps, so no one gets them instead) or Rental assistance vouchers(closed, capped and a farce).

    • Oh and I almost forgot, the amount allowed to be saved needs to go up from $2,000(where it has been since 1989) to $10,000(there has been a bill in Congress in at least the last two Years to raise this to $5,000.00, which has so far even with bipartisan support has gone into the ways and means committee and never emerged, I wonder why?).

      Plus If one wants to be buried one can not have a burial plot for more than $1500, the least expensive I could find for My Mothers ashes was about $2900.00, there has been a bill in Congress to remove burial plots as a resource from SSI, this Bill also went No where.

      I’m lucky that what does show on My credit history at least shows I have no mortgage, As recently cause of info from the IRS, the SSA asked Me If I owned a house that was valued at $159,000.00 that I wasn’t living in and of course I said No I don’t own any such house, My bank statements would show increased income or maybe even gas usage. I also unlike some do not owe any debt, that’s also a part of how I was raised, Dad was a Republican and compassionate, Not like the trolls of today, He never had a credit card until up He was in His 70’s just before He died, He also never used any of His GI Bill benefits from His WWII service either.

      • ssapotluck says:

        Victor,

        Thank you for your comments and questions.

        I seriously doubt that the FBR will be significantly increased. It never has in over 30 years. It gets the same COLAs as Social Security does, and I suspect that is about all that Congress and the President are willing to do.

        California is what they call a “cash-out” state, for food stamp purposes. To my knowledge it is the only one. A food stamp cash-out State is a State which has specifically increased the amount of its State supplementary payment (SSP) to include the value of the food stamp allotment.

        By “rental assistance vouchers” I assume you are referring to HUD Section 8 Housing Assistance. It has always been hard to get. When I worked for SSA, the city Housing Authority would open up for a brief period during which they would accept applications. This period would only be three or four weeks long. They would take in a lot of applications — one year they took over 90,000 — and spend the next couple of years working them off. Once that batch of applications was done, they would open up for a new group of applications. I can only guess whether it is is still done the same way, but I suspect that it is. I suggest you call your city’s Housing Authority office at least once a month and ask them if they have any idea when they will accept applications again.

        I agree with you that the SSI resource limit should be increased some, but I think that $5,000 is a bit high. Remember, most resources are excluded from counting against the resource limit. As far as resources intended for burial expenses are concerned, I agree they shouldn’t be countable. There is something you can do, however, if you wish to exclude more than $1500.00. Have the funeral home clearly identify how much being set aside for a burial space. This amount is excluded from counting as a resource. Make the contract irrevocable under atate law. There are state restrictions on how much can be made irrevocable, but as I recall this worked reasonably well.

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