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When will I receive my first Social Security check?

This is a common question we get when we do a full Social Security Benefit session. “When will I receive my first check”. It’s important to understand that As of March 1, 2013, the Social Security Administration stopped mailing paper checks. There are two ways you can receive your benefits:

1. Direct deposit of your Social Security checks. This option puts them right into your bank account on the day they are paid.

You don’t have to worry about your check being lost or worry that funds will not get to the bank in time if you are out of town. Sign up or learn more at Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Direct Deposit.

2. Direct Express® Debit Card – If you do not sign up for direct deposit, your benefits will be paid to you via Direct Express® debit card option. This card will work anywhere that takes Debit Mastercard®. You can also use your Direct Express® debit card to get cash back at the grocery store or to purchase money orders at the post office.

Social Security checks are deposited on the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of each month, depending on your day of birth. The Social Security check schedule works as follows:

If you were born on the:

1st–10th of the month: Expect your Social Security check to be deposited on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

11th–20th of the month: Expect your Social Security check to be deposited on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

21st–31st of the month: Expect your Social Security check to be deposited on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

Exceptions to When Social Security Checks Arrive

For every rule, there are always exceptions. If you fall into one of the categories below, your check may arrive on an alternate schedule.

You started receiving benefits before 1997: Your Social Security check is paid on the third day of the month. You can request to change this according to the day of birth schedule above.

You are receiving both Social Security benefits and SSI payments: Expect your Social Security check to be deposited on the third day of the month.

Holiday exceptions: If the day your Social Security check is supposed to be deposited is a holiday, your check will be deposited the previous day.

If you have questions on how to Maximize your Social Security Benefits, contact us today. This is what we do! Helping thousands of people that look for ways to maximize their retirement and live a better life.

How Single’s can maximize their Social Security Benefits

Just because you are single and getting ready to collect Social Security Benefits, doesn’t mean you should get treated any differently from the Social Security Administration. Did you know that the SS Administration doesn’t always give advise on how to maximize your benefits. They are only there to assist with your benefits and process claims. Often people are surprised at what the Social Security Administration did NOT mention to them. On this podcast we explore those options.

How we help maximize your Social Security

As a National Speaker on how to maximize social security benefits, I get a ton of questions by hard working people like you who are very concerned if Social Security will even be around when they get ready to retire. I say “of course”. This is what we do at Social Security Benefit Planners. We educated, and show you how the whole system works and how it benefits YOU.

Can I count on Social Security when I retire?

When I have the opportunity to meet with people or speaking at a event, probably the most popular question I get is: “Can I count on Social Security to be there when I retire”? Of course the majority of that question comes to me where peoples ages range from 40-55. The young people I talk to assume social security will NOT be there. That’s a shame.

The latest Social Security Trustees Report projects that the Social Security trust fund will run out of money in just 18 years, or 2033. But even if that forecast proves accurate, it doesn’t mean payments will stop. The payroll taxes that Social Security collects from workers and employers will still be able to fund 77% of scheduled benefits.

So the real issue is whether benefits will be cut, not eliminated.
In my opinion, I would be very surprised if people in their mid-50s or older see their benefits scaled back. That said, even if their payments aren’t reduced, they could be trimmed in other ways, such as making more of their Social Security income taxable.

I think for the younger generation, Social Security maybe changed, but never deleted. I say to young people that it’s always better to plan ahead of time so your NOT so dependent on social security for retirement.

How does Divorce Change my Social Security?

On this episode we discuss how Social Security affects you when you are divorced and what you need to know. For some Social Security may affect people that are divorced. It’s important to understand how it may affect you.

When Should I Take My Social Security?

As a Social Security Benefits Planner, we get this question all the time. In fact, it’s probably the most asked question. So it’s important to realize that the decision of when to retire is separate from the decision of when to claim Social Security benefits. For example, depending on circumstances, you might find that it makes sense to retire at a given age, yet hold off on claiming Social Security until a later date — maybe even several years later.

By waiting until age 70 rather than claiming as early as possible at age 62, you can increase your monthly benefit amount by roughly three-quarters. Of course, by waiting, you decrease the number of months in which you’ll be receiving a Social Security check.

So how can you tell if the trade-off is worth it? One way to compare two possible ages for claiming benefits is to compute the age to which you would have to live for one strategy to become superior to the other strategy. Another way to analyze the decision is to compare the payout you get from delaying Social Security to the level of income you can safely get from other retirement income sources.

According to the Social Security Administration, the average total life expectancy for a 62-year-old female is 84.8. For a male, it’s 82. In other words, from a breakeven perspective, most unmarried retirees will be best served by waiting to take their retirement benefit.

This is why it’s always a good idea to have other sources of retirement income. In other words, for each dollar of Social Security you give up now (by delaying benefits), you can expect to receive a greater level of income in the future than you could safely take from a dollar invested in a typical stock/bond portfolio.

A similar analysis can be performed for each year up to age 70, and the conclusion is the same: Delaying Social Security benefits can be an excellent way to increase the amount of income you can safely take from your portfolio.

Of course, there are circumstances in which it would not make sense for an unmarried person to delay taking Social Security.

First and most obviously, if your finances are such that you absolutely need the income right now, then you have little choice in the matter.

Second, if you have reason to think that your life expectancy is well below average, it may be advantageous to claim benefits early. For example, if you have a medical condition such that you don’t expect to make it past age 64, it would obviously not make a great deal of sense to choose to wait until age 70 to claim benefits.

In Summary:

For unmarried retirees, from a breakeven perspective, you’ll be best served by waiting until age 70 to claim benefits if you expect to live past age 80.5. (And, for reference, the average total life expectancy for a 62-year-old female is 84.8. For a male, it’s 82.)

For unmarried retirees, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, the lifetime income you gain from delaying Social Security is generally greater than the level of income you can safely get from other sources. As a result, delaying Social Security can be a great way to increase the amount you can safely spend per year. (Or, said differently, it can be a great way to reduce the likelihood that you will outlive your money.)

The shorter your life expectancy and the greater the available yield on inflation-protected bonds, the less desirable it is to delay claiming Social Security benefits.

Still confused about what is right for you? Get our FREE E-Book on Social Security Basics and start getting your questions answered. Faye Sykes is a National Speaker on Social Security and understands how to maximize your Benefits.

 

Advice from the Social Security Administration

Most people assume that the Social Security Administration is there to give you advise when you are submitting an application for benefits. Not particularly true. Almost 70% of all applicants do NOT have the ability to maximize their benefits when speaking to a Social Security Administration Agent.

One of the largest areas of confusion at the Social Security offices is the filing of restricted applications. A restricted application means the person is not applying for the highest benefits he may be eligible for at the time. For instance, a person could apply for survivor benefits based on a late spouse’s earnings record while he lets his own benefits grow each year until age 70. He would then switch to his own higher benefits at age 70.

Problems arise because the Social Security agents do not have the right tools and are not properly prepared to give the right information to the tsunami of baby boomers coming to them.

More than a year after Congress approved changes to Social Security claiming rules as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, agency representatives continue to deny legitimate claims for spousal benefits by applicants who are clearly grandfathered under prior rules and tell other applicants they can take advantage of claiming rules that no longer exist.

The government agency marks its 79th year with close to 12,000 field offices staffed by helpful and knowledgeable people, but the administration prohibits their employees from engaging in Social Security claiming advice of any kind. Agents are therefore trained in the Social Security rules, but not in claiming strategies.

Additionally, for legal reasons, agents are required to enter your clients’ information into their records on the date they inquire about Social Security benefits, even if they are not planning to begin receiving benefits until a later date. Any calculations performed are based on that date, and facilitates a bias that too often results with clients claiming early.

And let’s not forget the outcry in response to recent cutback in SSA services.

Do NOT take any advise from the Social Security Administration as the Golden Rule! Get a second, third, and even fourth opinion before you file that claim. This is what WE DO at Social Security Benefit Planners. We get the facts and do our best to maximize your benefits. After all, it’s your money!!!

Claiming Social Security Benefits

Approaching retirement? Have you thought about when to claim Social Security benefits?

We’ll get to the details in a bit, but first, find out what you already know about this subject by taking a quick quiz:

Full retirement age

Many people have the misconception that full retirement age is when they reach 65. But it actually depends on your birth year. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, full retirement age is when you turn 66. If you were born in 1955, it is 66 and two months. Add two months per year until you reach 1960 and beyond, when full retirement age is 67.

(If you were born in 1937 or earlier, your full retirement age was 65. From 1938 to 1942, retirement age ranges from 65 and two months to 65 and 10 months. You’ve likely already retired.)

Age and claiming

According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, you’ll generally get the same amount in lifetime benefits no matter what age you choose to file, assuming you live to average life expectancy.

But the amount you get each month can differ substantially depending on the age at which you file.

You can start claiming Social Security benefits at age 62. Many people opt to do this. As I speak across the country explaining how to plan and maximize your Social Security, I meet all kinds of people that are not getting what they are entitled to. More importantly, the Social Security Administration won’t offer that assistance.  However, your monthly benefits will be about 25 to 30 percent less than if you wait till your full retirement age to file. This is why seeking advise from a Social Security Benefits Planner so you can get a forecast of what your benefits will be.

Social Security Benefits Frequently Asked Questions

According to the United States Government, over 59 million individuals will receive approximately $863 billion in Social Security benefits this year. With numbers like that, chances are good that you or someone you know may be eligible for benefits soon.  Social Security Benefit Planners answer some of the more common questions people ask about Social Security.

Do I qualify for Social Security retirement benefits?

Depending on your date of birth, the normal age of retirement (a government term related to the age in which benefits can kick in) is 65-67.  Take our quiz and find out exactly how much you understand about your own Social Security Benefits. You can apply for benefits if you are at least 61 years and 9 months old, or as late as age 70.

How do I apply for Social Security benefits?

You can apply for Social Security benefits either online, or in person at the Social Security office if there is one in your city. Click on our Interactive Map and find out how we can help in YOUR State

The Social Security Administration recommends starting the application process at least four months in advance of your planned retirement, and you will need information such as your birth certificate, Social Security card, and other government-issued documents. This list published by the Social Security Administration gives the full list of documents that may be needed for your application.

When is the best time to apply?

Every individual’s needs are different, but factors that may impact your decision to collect retirement can include your health, your financial needs, your other sources of income, and your plans to work after you start collecting your benefits. This is because the total dollar amount of your benefits will vary based on how old you are when you claim the benefit and whether or not you are still working.

If you are getting a divorce, you should also be thinking about Social Security. If you were married at least 10 years and do not ever re-marry, you may qualify for benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings when you both reach age 62. The result is that you could receive the higher of benefits based on your own work history or half of your former spouse’s benefit, even if he or she has remarried.

How much Social Security am I entitled to?

As of 2014, the maximum benefit per month for a person who earned the maximum taxable earnings for 35 years or more is $2,663 per month. However, the average monthly retirement benefit is $1,328.  Learn about the FACTS of Social Security

Have more questions about how to Maximize YOUR Social Security? Ask Faye Sykes, National Speaker for Social Security Benefit Planners and learn how planing now will save you time and money later.

Lost my Social Security Card

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.

Top Tips for Business Owners to Maximize Retirement Income

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.

Social Security for Dependent Parents

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)

What Every Expat Needs to Know About Social Security

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.

How does Divorce and Social Security Work?

How does Divorce change my Social Security

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:

  1. The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years.
  2. You must have attained your full retirement age (your benefit will be less if you file early).
  3. 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) info@socialsecuritybp.com

Stop Screwing Yourself, Business Owners!

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) info@socialsecuritybp.com