Social Security Spousal Benefits
You may be able to get spouses retirement benefits even if you have never worked under Social Security. Your spouse must already be receiving retirement or disability benefits and you must be at least 62 years of age, and you can also qualify for Medicare if you are at least 65 years of age. You can receive spousal benefits no matter how old you are if you are caring for your spouses child who is also receiving benefits. To receive benefits, a child must be unmarried and either be under age 18 or be age 18-19 and a full-time student they can also receive benefits if they are 18 or over and disabled with a disability that started before the age of 22.
You can also receive spousal benefits even if you are divorced, if the marriage lasted ten years or longer. You must be unmarried, at least 62, your spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, and the amount of the benefit you receive based on your own work must be less than the benefit you would receive from your ex-spouses work. To apply for Social Security spousal benefits, you can use the online application you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or for the deaf and hard of hearing, 1-800-325-0778 or you can make an appointment and visit your local Social Security office. If you do not live in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory, you can contact the nearest Social Security office, U.S. Embassy, or consulate
Who Is Eligible For Social Security Retirement Benefits
The U.S. Congress passed the 1935 Social Security Act as a way to supplement retirement earnings for primary working Americans. The original law also included the nations first unemployment insurance program as well as several health and welfare programs. Shortly thereafter, the law was changed to add survivor benefits for spouses and children, and in 1956 disability benefits were also added.
The Social Security Administration now serves 60 million Americans who will receive $870 billion in benefits in 2015.
The administration of such a large benefits program can be complicated at times, with numerous special instances, exceptions and nuances that can impact how benefits are disbursed to recipients.
This guide will introduce applicants to the basics of applying for Social Security retirement benefits and answer many of the common questions that arise when first considering to apply for benefits.
It will also address many special circumstances that can arise involving spouses and children, specific circumstances regarding timing, amounts, and maximizing benefits while also offering a comprehensive list of resources that may prove valuable throughout the Social Security retirement benefits process.
How To Receive Federal Benefits
To begin receiving your federal benefits, like Social Security or veterans benefits, you must sign up for electronic payments with direct deposit.
If You Have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Call the Go Direct Helpline at .
If You Don’t have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Direct Express debit card – a pre-paid debit card. Get help by calling the Go Direct Helpline at .
Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:
On Go Direct’s FAQ page, learn how to make changes to an existing direct deposit account. You also may contact the federal agency that pays your benefit for help with your enrollment.
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When Should You Apply For Retirement Benefits
Many people who quit work at age 62 apply for disability at the same time they elect for early retirement benefits. This allows the early retirement payments to fill the income gap until your claim for disability is approved. It also provides you with retroactive relief from the difference in amounts.
However, there is no guarantee that your disability benefits claim will ultimately be approved, in which case you will be resigned to collecting the lower early retirement payments for the rest of your life.
If you are severely impaired, however, this might be a good option to consider. Being approved for disability benefits is easier for those age 60 or older, and special consideration is given to those over age 65.
What Happens When You Withdraw Your Application
There are a few things to know before deciding to withdraw your application.
- Anyone else who receives benefits based on your application must consent in writing to the withdrawal.
- You must repay all the benefits you and your family received from your retirement application. This includes:
- Benefits your spouse or children received, whether they live with you or not.
- Money withheld from your Social Security retirement checks for:
- Medicare Part B, Part C, and Part D premiums.
- Voluntary tax withholding of federal income taxes for closed tax years. Contact the Internal Revenue Service or your tax advisor about any tax implications.
- If you are already entitled to Medicare, you may choose to also withdraw your Medicare coverage.
If you are also entitled to railroad or veterans benefits, you should check with the Railroad Retirement Board and the Department of Veterans Affairs about how your withdrawal affects those benefits. The RRB and the VA make their own determinations and are responsible for their own programs.
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Reasons Your Social Security Could Be Denied
When applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or supplemental Security Income , most people naturally think about the reasons why they should be granted benefits. You may find it useful, however, to turn the perspective around and understand the reasons why you might be denied SSDI or SSI benefits. In some cases, the reasons are beyond your control. In other instances, though, you may be able to avoid doing something that results in a denial.
1. You Earn Too Much Income
For SSDI, the benefit program for workers who have paid into the Social Security system over multiple years, one of the most basic reasons you could be denied benefits is that, when you apply, your income is above the limit where it is considered substantial gainful activity . This means you earn too much money to be considered disabled. The SGA limit for nonblind people is $1,000 per month in 2011, and the figure is adjusted annually. To find out the current SGA income limit, go to the SSAs substantial gainful activity page. Income from investments does not count toward the SGA only work income count, as it shows your ability to work.
2. Your Disability Wont Last Long Enough
To qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration must believe that your impairment is severe enough to last at least 12 months or result in your death. The only exception to this duration requirement is for blind SSI applicants.
3. The SSA Cannot Find You
4. You Refuse to Cooperate
8. You Commit Fraud
Paying Taxes On Your Retirement Benefits
Social Security retirement benefit recipients must pay Federal income taxes on their benefits. Due to personal income levels, about one-third of recipients actually have to pay some amount annually.
Each year, the Social Security Administration will mail recipients a Form SSA-1099 that shows the amount of benefits received during the preceding year. This form should be used to complete tax returns and help determine in any taxes are owed.
As a general rule, if you file as an individual and your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay taxes on up to 50 percent of your Social Security benefits. If your combined income is more than $34,000 you may be required to pay taxes on up to 85 percent of your benefits.
If you file a joint return and you and your spouses income is between $32,000 and $44,000, then 50 percent of your benefits may be taxed. If your combined income is about $44,000, then up to 85 percent of your benefits may be subject to income tax.
To assist with tax planning, Social Security can withhold Federal taxes throughout the year for benefit recipients which may be preferable to making quarterly estimated tax payments.
Try This Life Expectancy Calculator For Social Security
Retirement benefit calculations are based on extensive actuarial studies and data. As a service to the public, the Social Security Administration has developed a simple Life Expectancy Calculator that allows you to plug in your gender and date of birth to get a rough estimate of how long you may live.
Knowing this information may help you in deciding when the right time is to apply for retirement benefits.
To use the Calculator, go to
Fact #: Social Security Is More Than Just A Retirement Program It Also Provides Important Life Insurance And Disability Insurance Protection
Over 65 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in January 2022. While older adults make up about 4 in 5 beneficiaries, another one-fifth of beneficiaries received Social Security Disability Insurance or were young survivors of deceased workers.
In addition to Social Securitys retirement benefits, workers earn life insurance and SSDI protection by making Social Security payroll tax contributions:
- About 96 percent of people aged 20-49 who worked in jobs covered by Social Security in 2020 have earned life insurance protection through Social Security.
- For a young worker with average earnings, a spouse, and two children, thats equivalent to a life insurance policy with a face value of nearly $800,000 in 2020, according to Social Securitys actuaries.
- About 89 percent of people aged 21-64 who worked in covered employment in 2020 are insured through Social Security in case of severe disability.
The risk of disability or premature death is greater than many people realize. Some 7 percent of recent entrants to the labor force will die before reaching the full retirement age, and many more will become disabled.
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Why Were You Denied Social Security Benefits
First, take the time to read the decision the SSA sent you to figure out exactly why you were denied in the first place. Once you know why you were denied, you can begin to collect the necessary documentation to correct the error. If you were denied Social Security disability benefits, the most likely reasons for the denial are:
- You make more than $940 a month. If you make too much money, you will be denied disability benefits outright.
- Your disability will not last at least 12 months.
- You didn’t follow treatment prescribed by your doctor. There are approved exceptions to this including:
- You cannot pay for treatment.
- It’s against your religious beliefs.
- The doctor prescribes treatment that is not effective.
- You have a mental illness that prevents you from following the prescribed treatment.
Workers Who Retire In Certain Foreign Countries
U.S. citizens who travel toor live inmost foreign countries after they retire usually can receive Social Security benefits. However, if that country is Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, or Uzbekistan, then the government will not send them Social Security payments. Exceptions may be available in all of these countries except Cuba and North Korea. The governments Payments Abroad Screening Tool is an easy way to check if you will be able to continue receiving Social Security benefits while living abroad or if restrictions will apply.
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Refusal To Cooperate With Ssa
For SSA to make a determination about your disability claim they need to contact your medical providers and review your medical records. If you refuse to give SSA access to your records they will ultimately be forced to deny your case. I recently had a client who told me they were seeing a certain doctor, but when SSA tried to obtain the records from that doctor they were told the client had never been treated there. Someone at SSA called my client to ask about the doctor the client then yelled at the SSA employee and refused to give the correct medical information. Unfortunately, being rude or refusing to help SSA obtain the necessary information for your case will result in a denial. Keep in mind that it is you who asked SSA to consider your claim for disability. They are not required to approve the case, so it is in your best interest to be polite and cooperative with anyone who may contact you from the office.
Social Security Administration Cannot Contact You
When you apply for disability benefits, SSA will contact you to discuss your application. They will send you several forms concerning your condition and your work history. SSA may also want to schedule a consultative examination or speak with you directly about your treating providers. If SSA cannot reach you they will most likely deny your claim. If you move or change your phone number during the application process, be sure to let your representative or someone at SSA know about the change.
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To Help Improve Your Chances At Being Approved For Ssdi Benefits It Helps To Better Understand Why So Many Applicants Get Turned Down
Social Security Disability Insurance is one of the least understood insurance policies available to U.S. workers. Many workers dont realize they have the income protection SSDI provides or that they contributed to the coverage with every paycheck through FICA tax payments. Based on the available statistics, however, it is important that everyone is equipped with the knowledge of the program if and when a medical condition or disability makes it impossible for them to work.
One in four 20-year-olds will experience a period of disability at some point in their working life. If it becomes severe and has a long-term impact, SSDI provides a financial backstop of income, health insurance and even return to work assistance. Also, as we continue to recognize the effects of long- COVID and other debilitating conditions, more and more individuals are turning to the vital SSDI program.
Unfortunately, fewer than 40% of the approximately 2 million people per year who seek SSDI will receive it after all is said and done, according to figures from the Social Security Office of Retirement and Disability Policy. About 67% of initial applications for SSDI will be denied by the Social Security Administration . During the first appeal , only 8% of former workers will be approved and at the hearing level, just 2% of those still appealing for benefits will succeed.
Review By The Appeals Council
If you disagree with the hearing decision, you may ask for a review by the Social Securitys Appeals Council.
The appeals council looks at all requests for review, but the council may deny a request if they believe the hearing decision was correct. However, if they decide to review your case, the council will either decide your case itself or return it to an administrative law judge for further review.
If the Appeals Council denies your request for review or makes a decision, the Social Security Administration will send you a letter explaining the outcome.
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Earn Ssa Work Credits In Some Countries
You may not have enough credits from your work in the United States to qualify for retirement benefits. But, you may be able to count your work credits from another country. The SSA has agreements with 24 countries. If you earned credits in one of those countries, they can help you qualify for U.S. benefits.
The Big Question: When Should I Apply For Retirement Benefits
The single biggest decision youll make when it comes to Social Security retirement benefits is when to apply.
Every persons situation is unique and so theres no single right answer. In general terms and based on life expectancies, Social Security retirement benefits are calculated to give you approximately the same total amount of benefits over your lifetime. If you decide to draw benefits earlier in your life, your average monthly amount will be less than if you delay and draw benefits later in life.
The amount you receive can vary widely. For example, if you were born in 1953 or 1954 and you were entitled to draw a $1,000 benefit at your full retirement age of 66, that amount would be $750 if you decided to draw benefits starting at age 62. But in that same scenario, if you delayed benefits until age 70, the amount would jump to $1,350.
There is no exact science when deciding when to apply, but here are some things to consider as you decide whats best for you.
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The Ssa Cannot Find You
The SSA and Disability Determination Services the agency that determines your medical eligibility for benefitsmust be able to communicate with you regarding your application. If these agencies cannot reach you to schedule examinations or communicate with you about critical matters, your benefits may be denied. If you name a representative to handle your paperwork, you may not need to get in touch with the SSA, but be sure to stay in touch with your representative or attorney. If you move while your application is being considered, make sure the SSA knows how to contact you. Claimants get denied every day because the SSA cannot find them.
How Can A Social Security Benefits Lawyer Help Me
If you are nearing retirement, you might not know what to do to collect all the benefits you are entitled. Fortunately, a Social Security benefits lawyer can help. Your attorney will be able to review your case and determine the best legal action for you. In some cases, you might be able to collect multiple benefits for disability and retirement.
No matter what you can rest assured knowing that you are getting all the disability and retirement benefits youre entitled to.
A Social Security benefits lawyer will take your case and gather the medical evidence necessary to win your case. This may include additional testing, examinations, and other professional evaluations. Your attorney will also help you get ready for any hearings and ensure that your case has the best chance of success.
Without an SSDI benefits lawyer on your side, you might not collect the benefits you deserve and need.
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