Posted on July 24, 2017 by fsykes - Social Security Benefits
You’ve lost your Social Security Card, what do I do? First of all, don’t panic. They’re lot’s of protections now that will alert you if your number is being used. But the most important thing to do is REPORT IT! Any time you lose sensitive personal information such as your Social Security card, it is a good idea to request an initial security alert be added to your credit report. An initial security alert is free and remains on your report for 90 days. It lets creditors know that you may be a victim of identity theft so someone could be trying to apply fraudulently for credit in your name.
The easiest way to request a security alert is by going online, although you can also request the alert by phone or by mail. To add an alert via the Internet, visit Experian’s online Fraud Center and select “Add an initial security alert.” Simply complete the form and submit it through the secure Web link. To add an alert by phone call 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742) and select the fraud option. Follow the voice instructions to add an alert and request a report. After you have reported it for credit reasons, now report it to the Social Security Administration
Contact the Social Security Administration
Contact the Social Security Administration to let them know the card was lost and to request a new one. For more information, please visit the Social Security Administration’s site.
How do I replace it?
It is free to replace your social security card if it has been lost or stolen. You are limited to 3 replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. For example, changes in immigration status that require card updates may not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship.
In order to get a replacement social security card you will need to provide documentation that proves you are a US citizen and your identity. All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. The social security office will not accept photocopies, notarized copies of documents or receipts showing you applied for the document. Social Security may use one document for two purposes, such as using your US passport as proof of both citizenship and identity.
COMPLETE AND PRINT SOCIAL SECURITY CARD APPLICATION FORM
Once you have the necessary documents the next step would be to print out the social security card application and fill it out. Once you fill it out and print it you need to then either take it to your local social security office or mail it to the office. Click here for the application form. If you have questions or issues about replacing your Social Security card then you need to contact your local administration office.
For more questions regarding your Social Security Benefits, or want to learn Social Security Basics? Contact Faye Sykes and learn how you can maximize your benefits.
Are you a business owner with an at-home spouse who helps out with bookkeeping or a variety of other tasks that need to be done? Once you get to retirement age it’s too late, but for those of you that are in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or even 50’s there’s still time to let these efforts build future benefits. Paying your spouse at least $4,880 a year will ensure that they continue to vest into the Social security system, which will help you at retirement time.
To fully vest you need to earn 40 credit hours, with a maximum of 4 credits per year at $1220 per credit. Spouses who are not vested can still pull a half benefit off of their working spouse’s retirement benefit (or ex-spouse’s, if married over 10 years). If widowed after being married 9 months or more, you can draw benefits up to your deceased spouse’s full amount, depending on what age decide to file.
If both spouses have work history the social security retirement benefits picture can drastically change for the better. With two vested partners you’ll also have more options, such as the potential for the lower earning spouse to pull earlier while delaying the higher earning spouse’s filing until age 70 to get the highest benefit. And don’t forget that social security disability benefits are hinged on a person working at least 5 out of the last 10 years, which can help when the worst happens.
As you can see, it’s in your best interest to ensure that the work both partners contribute to your business is recognized as paid employment by the Social Security Administration. We offer a pre-check social security flat fee planning option that will help you review where you are today and give you insight about the impact on future income you can make by ensuring that both spouses are being paid for the work that they do.
Please “Select a Plan” so we can get started on maximizing your social security benefits or take our quiz to find out how much you know about your social security.
Parents take care of us for so many years, and in some cases we are able to help our own parents in their retirement. But what will happen if your dependent parent doesn’t outlive you?
Very few people know about an important social security benefit that can help your financially dependent parent should you die. If your parent relies on you for more than half of their living expenses, they may be able to receive benefits after your death. In order to take advantage of this benefit you must have earned enough credits to qualify for social security – that’s 40 credit hours – and your parent must:
Receive at least half of his or her support from you
- Be at least 62 years old
- Not have remarried since the adult child’s death
- Not have an individual social security benefit that’s more than the potential benefit based on your earnings
How This Affects Social Security Benefit Planning
First, the age at which you claim your own retirement benefit doesn’t affect the time at which your parent can start receiving a parent’s benefit. (It is your date of death that determines that.)
Second, the age at which you claim your retirement benefit doesn’t affect the amount of your parent’s benefit based on your work record. The amount of a parent’s benefit is 82.5% of the deceased person’s primary insurance amount if there is one eligible parent. If there are two eligible parents, each parent’s benefit as a parent is 75% of the deceased person’s primary insurance amount. (If the parent is already receiving a different Social Security benefit — such as their own retirement benefit — then the total amount they will receive is the greater of the two benefits.)
We offer a FREE Quiz that you can take to test your knowledge on YOUR social security. Most often people wait until they need it the most. Don’t be that person. Contact us today! Or Call: 877-270-SSBP (7727)
So you have decided to work or retire out of the United States. How does this affect your Social Security and Medicare benefits? The answer varies by country, and it will work out better for you in certain countries than in others. It’s important to understand what is at stake. We broke down what Expats or (Expatriate) needs to know
- About 20 countries have agreements to prevent double taxation. In the rest, you will pay taxes to your host country as well as Uncle Sam.
- About 25 countries maintain bilateral agreements that allow you to transfer social security credits to and from the US. For example, if you work in the US for 20 years and then move to Canada and work there for another 10 years, when you retire you can transfer your US credits to Canada to vest into their system (or vice versa).
- There are a few countries, such as North Korea and Cuba, where you will not be allowed to receive social security benefits while living there.
- Your non-US spouse may or may not be entitled to your benefits if you were to pass. The laws vary by country and are quite complex.
- If you think you will ever move back to the US then it is very important to sign up for Medicare part A, which is free, at age 65. There are ways to opt out of part B if you qualify, but if you do not sign up for part A there are permanent penalties that will persist throughout your retirement.
- If you worked overseas and did not pay into social security for certain years, your pension from that country will most likely trigger a Windfall Earnings Provision (WEP) that partially offsets your social security benefit.
Determining retirement benefits for expats can be a confusing and complex situation, with many country-specific rules that change over the years. If you need help navigating social security options for expats and their families, please visit our website at www.socialsecuritybp.com to learn more.
We get a lot of questions regarding Divorce and Social Security. How it works, and who qualifies for what? Filing for Social Security involves a dizzying array of choices and decisions. When should you claim benefits? What’s the best way to maximize your income? Selecting the right options isn’t easy for anyone, and for those who are divorced it can be even harder. If you’re confused by the myriad of rules and regulations around filing for Social Security as a divorced individual, keep these guidelines in mind:
If you were married over 10 years, you can claim spousal benefits. This is true as long as you meet the following conditions:
- You’ve been divorced for at least two years at the time you file.
- You have not remarried.
- You have reached the age of 62 (or older).
- Your spouse is qualified by work history and citizenship to claim Social Security retirement/disability benefits.
Your spousal benefit will be equal to one half of the full retirement amount your ex-spouse is qualified to receive, assuming you file at your full retirement age. In many cases, this could be more than the amount you would receive based on your own work history – if you were out of the work force caring for children, for example. If your own work record is higher than you will receive your own benefit. In either case if you file at age 62 this could reduce your benefit as much as 30% for the rest of your retirement which can cost you thousands of retirement dollars.
You can receive the full amount of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit if he or she passes away. If your ex-spouse is deceased you can receive benefits as a widow or widower instead of spousal benefits. You qualify for the full amount of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefit, just as you would if you had still been married at the time of death. The rules are similar to those for spousal benefits:
- The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years.
- You must have attained your full retirement age (your benefit will be less if you file early).
- You must not have remarried before age 60. A marriage at or after the age of 60 will not affect your ability to qualify for this type of benefit.
In both types of Social Security benefits, it makes no difference whether your spouse has remarried one or more times. These benefits are yours if you qualify based on your age and marital status, even if there is a current spouse or widow who also collects benefits.
Still confused? Please contact our office for a consultation. We’ll help you clarify your options and find your best path forward. Social Security Benefit Planners 877-270-SSBP (7727) firstname.lastname@example.org
Business owners typically prioritize the success of their company over other financial goals. That’s a good thing in general, but it’s important to keep a balance or you could be creating a host of long-term financial problems for yourself while you’re trying to do the right thing.
A common pattern I see with my clients is that they pay themselves as little as possible and put the vast majority of the available money back into the business. That may be good for the business but it’s not necessarily a smart move for your overall financial picture. When it’s time for retirement, problems arise:
- Little Social Security income. By keeping the amount you pay yourself low over the years, you deprive yourself of Social Security benefits you might have been able to collect later. The amount of monthly benefit you receive is calculated based on your average earnings over a 35-year period. If you didn’t pay yourself much, the government won’t either.
- Minimal retirement savings. When you plough all the profits back into the company you reduce the amount available to fund your personal retirement account. That means you don’t have a substantial nest egg that’s growing to take care of you once you’re ready to hand the business over to new owners.
- Expecting too much. Selling your business when retirement beckons may deliver a nice bundle to provide for your financial needs in the coming years. Then again, it might not. Economic conditions shift, and the type of business you own can make a huge difference in the amount you can actually sell it for.
Take care of your business, but be sure to look out for your own best interests as well. Paying yourself a fair wage and investing in assets like equities and real estate are just as important as that new equipment or extra staff member your company could use. The money you pay into Social Security and invest privately will work together to give you a higher income in retirement than you’d have otherwise.
If you’re not sure how much you should be paying yourself or investing, please contact us today and we’ll help you find the right balance. You deserve a comfortable retirement!
Social Security Benefit Planners
800.270.SSBP (7727) email@example.com
Worried about how your military service affects your Social Security? You don’t have to, because the retirement income you’ve earned through military service won’t reduce your Social Security benefits. In fact, if you served on active duty between 1957 and 2001, you may even be credited for extra earnings on your Social Security record.
For Social Security purposes, active duty includes active duty, reserve duty and active duty for training (ACDUTRA), and includes your service in the:
- Air Force
- Coast Guard
- National Guard
- Public Health Service (service as a commissioned officer)
Although your benefits are not impacted by retirement income from the military, Social Security benefits for survivors may reduce the income beneficiaries receive through the Department of Defense Survivors Benefit Plan. Your military retirement advisor or the Department of Defense will be able to offer information specific to your situation.
Whenever you served, the American people thank you and wish you a happy retirement, complete with all the Social Security benefits to which you are entitled. Want assistance in understanding optimal options for maximizing your Social Security? Choose one of our plans and please use USA2017 to save $50 off any plan.
Working for a railroad means your Social Security benefits may be calculated differently than for other industries. To qualify for a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board, which maintains your record of earnings, you’ll need to have worked for the railroad at least 120 months or 60 months of railroad work that took place after 1995.
- For railroad workers whose work history includes less than five years of service since 1995 and less than ten total years of railroad work, your railroad earnings will be added to your other work history to calculate your Social Security credits and your benefits from Social Security. To see your earnings history, you can view your Social Security Statement online. Note that railroad earnings prior to 1973 do not show on your statement but are included in calculating the credits shown and your estimated benefits.
- Workers who have at least ten years of railroad work or five or more years of railroad work since 1995 usually qualify for a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board. The earnings from this railroad will not be used to calculate Social Security credits or benefits.
- If you’re entitled to a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board, you can still receive Social Security benefits as long as your work history includes enough credits to qualify for Social Security based on your non-railroad employment history. However, your Tier 1 Railroad Retirement Annuity will be reduced if you also receive Social Security.
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Working inside the U.S. as an employee of a foreign government or an instrumentality of one can mean you’re not covered by Social Security. These workers include diplomats, embassy employees, non-diplomatic representatives, consular officers and employees of foreign government instrumentalities (non-commercial organizations that function on behalf of a foreign government).
Whether or not your work will be counted toward Social Security benefits is controlled by your citizenship status.
U.S. Citizens who work for a foreign government are treated as self-employed citizens are for Social Security. Your employer will not withhold Social Security taxes but your earnings can still count toward your coverage under the program. You are responsible for paying self-employment taxes on the income. Citizens who work for an instrumentality are covered by Social Security, but their earnings may be treated as employment or self-employment based on three conditions. The U.S. Department of State and the IRS will determine which category your work falls into.
Non-citizens are not covered by Social Security for work they perform for a foreign government. Their employment for an instrumentality of a foreign government may or may not be covered by Social Security, depending on same three conditions mentioned above.
Dual citizens who hold citizenship in the U.S. and another country are covered by Social Security in most cases, but depending on the country for which they are working, they may need to pay self-employment taxes or not. Dual citizens who work for an instrumentality of a foreign government may or may not be exempt from paying Social Security taxes on their earnings. Reciprocal social security agreements between the U.S. and foreign governments vary by country, so it is important that dual citizens speak with a qualified professional or governmental administrator to determine program eligibility and tax responsibilities.
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Long-time employees of the Federal government may be confused about their Social Security benefits, and it’s easy to understand why. The U.S. government changed the retirement system for their employees in 1984, and only one of those systems include earnings for Social Security.
Prior to 1984, all employees were covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), which did not withhold Social Security taxes from workers’ earnings. As a result, these earnings do not qualify government workers for Social Security credits or benefits.
The retirement system that replaced the CSRS is the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), and under this system Social Security taxes are withheld from workers’ earnings. These earnings are included in calculating Social Security credits and benefits.
Everyone who began working for the Federal government during or after 1984 is covered under Social Security, assuming a sufficient work history to earn the required 40 credits.
Federal employees who switched to the FERS program are also covered under Social Security; all the work they performed after switching to FERS is counted toward their Social Security credits and these earnings are used to calculate benefits.
Some workers who were already covered under CSRS chose to remain under that program after FERS was available. These employees have not contributed into Social Security and are not eligible to receive benefits under the program. However, they are eligible to receiver Medicare Part A coverage after they earn the 40 quarterly credits required of all participants.
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