Today’s Social Security column addresses the questions of whether you can lose benefits if you start but don’t complete an online application, when ongoing income rises and doesn’t raise benefit rates and survivor benefits with several ex. Larry Kotlikoff is a professor of economics at Boston University and founder and president of Economic Security Planning, Inc.
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Do you have questions about social security that you would like answered? Ask Larry about Social Security here.
Will I lose benefits if I don’t complete the online Social Security application I started?
Hello Larry, I have an unfinished application that I have no interest in submitting now. SSA says I will lose my benefits if I don’t complete the application by August. It makes no sense that I would lose my benefits. Is it true? Thank you Howard
Hello Howard, It appears that you have received a six month notice of closure. If so, it does not mean that you will lose your benefits if you do not complete the application you left unfinished. It just means that you will have to start over with a new application when you decide to claim your benefits.
You will still be free to apply for benefits at any time, and your benefit rate will not be affected by the fact that you have not completed the previous application you started. The only potential adverse effect would relate to the date when you might start to receive your benefits.
For example, let’s say Bill is 63 years old and sets a protection filing date of October 15, 2021. Bill could then choose to start his benefits as early as October 2021.
However, if Bill does not complete his claim within 6 months of his notice of closure, he would no longer be able to start his benefits as early as October 2021. But Bill would still be free to file a claim at any time. thereafter and begin his benefits from the month in which he makes his request.
When a person initiates an application online, they set a protection filing date. This protection filing date would continue indefinitely until Social Security issues a notice of closure or makes a determination on the person’s eligibility.
And since Social Security does not have all the information it needs to make a final decision when a person’s application is incomplete, it must issue a notice of closure so that the protection filing date does not last indefinitely. . In other words, the purpose of a notice of closure is simply to inform a person who has established a protective filing date that that date will no longer be protective as of the date specified in the notice.
Keep in mind that I don’t have full access to all of your records, so you can call Social Security to discuss this issue with them. You might want to consider using my company’s software — Maximize my social security Where MaxiFi Planner — to ensure that your household receives the highest lifetime benefits. Social Security calculators provided by other companies or nonprofit organizations may provide appropriate suggestions if constructed with extreme care. Best, Larry
Why doesn’t my check go up if I’m still working and contributing to social security?
Hi Larry, I’m still collecting and working and therefore contributing to social security. Shouldn’t my benefits increase since I’m still working? I was always told that would be the case, but I don’t see any increase in my check. Shouldn’t I? Thank you, chuck
Hi Chuck, Social Security retirement benefits are based on an average of the best 35 years of earnings indexed to a person’s Social Security covered earnings, so additional years of earnings don’t increase the rate of a person’s benefits only if they exceed one or more of the 35 years currently used to calculate the person’s benefit rate.
Without access to your full Social Security earnings history, I have no way of knowing if your recent earnings were high enough to raise your benefit rate.
However, you can submit a written and signed request to Social Security requesting a recalculation of benefits if you believe your recent earnings were high enough to qualify for a higher rate. Best, Larry
If my husband dies before we’ve been married for ten years, do I get his benefits or does his ex-wife?
Hello Larry, I got divorced in 2014 after our separation in 2012. We had been married for 14 years before the separation. I would like to remarry. My boyfriend was also married for over 14 years.
He is currently 62 years old, working and does not receive social security. I am 51 years old, I work and I do not touch social security either.
If we get married and he dies before we have been married for at least 10 years, do I get widowhood benefits or does his ex-wife do? Thank you Kim
Hi Kim, You only need to be married for nine months to be potentially eligible for widowhood benefits if your current spouse dies. The 10-year marriage requirement applies to divorced spouse and surviving divorced spouse benefits.
So assuming you get married and your new spouse dies after being married for at least nine months, you could potentially qualify for widow’s benefits, whether or not your husband’s ex is eligible for benefits on her case. A former spouse’s entitlement to divorced spouse or surviving divorced spouse benefits does not adversely affect a widow’s or widower’s eligibility for benefits, or the amount of their benefit.
Be aware, however, that if you remarry before age 60, you will not be eligible for benefits from your ex’s account as long as your current marriage continues. Best, Larry