I think there must be something about the human psyche that makes so many people feel that they are being deceived by something that everyone enjoys. And if my emails are any indication, this is especially true when it comes to older adults and Social Security. Many of them seem convinced that the big, bad government is preventing them from receiving any sort of Social Security benefit that everyone deserves. And they are almost always wrong.
Here are some examples from this week’s email inbox.
NS: As a retired Texas teacher, I am being deceived by widow’s benefits that every other woman can get. After my husband died, I called Social Security to apply for widow’s benefits. He told me that the “Government Pension Offset” law prevents me from receiving anything on my husband’s Social Security record. What a dumb law!
a: Well, the law is not dumb, and you are not being deceived into anything. Let me try to help you understand.
First, you should realize that the rules have always stated that a Social Security retirement benefit offsets any spouse or widow benefits that may be due. So, for example, if you’re a woman who receives $3,000 in Social Security retirement benefits, but you’re also due $2,800 in widow benefits, you won’t get any of those widow benefits because of your own retirement benefits. More investigation.
The Government Pension Offset Law only says that any other public pension, like your teacher’s retirement pension, will offset any Social Security benefits that may be on your spouse’s record.
And I know you’ll find it hard to believe, but it’s really you who can cheat the system a little bit. Why is it like this? Because when Congress wrote the Government Pension Offset Act, they cut a deal to teachers like you. Only two-thirds of your teacher’s pension will offset any Social Security spouse benefits that may be due to you, he said.
To make it clear, let’s go back to the woman I said is getting $3,000 a month in Social Security retirement pensions. And because of this, she can’t receive any of her husband’s $2,800 widow’s pension. But if the same woman was receiving a $3,000 teacher’s retirement pension, only two-thirds of it, or $2,000, would be used to cover her widow’s benefit.
In other words, if the woman were a retired Texas teacher, she would receive her $3,000 teacher’s pension and $800 in Social Security widow’s benefits. If she hadn’t been a teacher and only received a $3,000 Social Security check, she wouldn’t have been able to pass out in widow’s benefits.
So maybe that woman should be justified in writing to me and telling me she’s being cheated of Social Security benefits that only teachers can get.
NS: I have just reached my full retirement age of 66 and 2 months. I called Social Security and told them I now wanted to file for spousal benefits on my wife’s record and keep my savings until age 70. I have many friends who have done this. But the Social Security agent told me the law had changed. Why is the government trying to deceive me with the benefits that all my friends get?
a: The government is not cheating you in anything. In fact, it is your friends who have betrayed the government with benefits they should never have actually received. I’ll explain
The law has always classified benefits payable to a spouse as “dependent” benefits. In other words, you have to be financially dependent on your wife to claim the benefits on your wife’s record. And of course, you didn’t depend on him. You had your own job, and now you have your own Social Security pension.
But a few decades ago, Congress inadvertently messed things up when they changed the law that allowed retirees to earn more money than their full retirement age and still be eligible for benefits. As part of that law, they mistakenly removed the dependency clause from spousal benefits.
Once financial planners and other retirement experts figured this out, the Social Security “maximum” craze began. Every retiree who was reaching full retirement age was advised to file for benefits on their spouse’s Social Security record and to delay starting their own benefits until age 70, when They will get a 32 percent bonus added to their retirement checks.
In no time, we had millions of mostly affluent older adults who were dependent on a spouse’s Social Security account claiming benefits as poor. It was quite a blessing. It took some time, but Congress eventually realized its mistake and closed the overly liberal and completely unexpected loophole. He added that anyone who reaches full retirement age after January 2, 2020, cannot claim “dependent” spouse benefits while delaying their Social Security until a later date.
So, I hope you see that you are not being duped for anything. It is all your friends who were lucky enough to be 66 years old before January 2020, who are legally cheating the system.
NS: As a single woman, I feel that the government is cheating me with the benefits that any married woman can get. My married old friends get their own Social Security, and they get benefits from their husband’s account.
a: As a single woman, you receive the same Social Security retirement benefits as a married woman. Your married friends will get some additional spousal benefits only if they have very little retirement pension on their own record and their spouse’s Social Security check is too high.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times