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Social Security- Questions and Answers

By Erin Thompson, Public Affairs Specialist, Toledo, OH

Guest Column



My father receives Social Security retirement benefits and I will be in charge of his estate when he dies. Should that occur, do I need to report his death to Social Security or will benefits automatically stop?



When your father dies, please notify Social Security as soon as possible at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Another person, such as a spouse, may be eligible for survivors benefits based on his record. Also, we might be able to pay a one-time payment of $255 to help with funeral expenses. We suggest reading a copy of our online publication, How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10008.html.



I'm trying to decide when to retire. Can Social Security help?



The best place to start is with a visit to the online Social Security Statement. The Statement provides you with estimates of benefits for you and your family as well as your earnings record and information you should consider about retirement and retirement planning. It is easy to access your statement online by creating a my Social Security account. To create an account, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. The “right” time to retire is different for everyone and depends on your individual situation. To help you make your own decision, we offer an online fact sheet, When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits, that highlights some of the factors to consider. Find this publication at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10147.html



I've decided I want to retire. Now what do I do?



The fastest and easiest way to apply for retirement benefits is to go to www.socialsecurity.gov/retireonline. Use our online application to apply for Social Security retirement or spouses benefits. To do so, you must:

·                Be at least 61 years and 9 months old;

·               Want to start your benefits in the next four months; and

·               Live in the United States or one of its commonwealths or territories.



Can I delay my retirement benefits and receive benefits as a spouse only? How does that work?



It depends on your date of birth. If you were born on or before 01/01/1954 and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you can apply for retirement benefits on your spouse’s record as long as you are at your full retirement age. You then will earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70, as long as you do not collect benefits on your own work record. Later, when you do begin receiving benefits on your own record, those payments could very well be higher than they would have been otherwise. If your spouse is also full retirement age and does not receive benefits, your spouse will have to apply for benefits and request the payments be suspended. Then you can receive benefits on your spouse’s Social Security record. If you were born on or after 01/02/1954 and wish to receive benefits, you must file for all benefits for which you are eligible. Social Security will determine the benefits you are eligible for and pay you accordingly. For individuals born on or after 01/02/1954, there is no longer an option to select which benefit you would like to receive, even beyond your full retirement age. Widows are an exception, as they can choose to take their deceased spouse’s benefit without filing for their own. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.



I’m reaching my full retirement age and thinking about retiring early next year. When is the best time of year to apply for Social Security benefits?



You can apply as early as four months before when you want your monthly benefits to begin. To apply, just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. Applying online for retirement benefits from the convenience of your home or office is secure and can take as little as 15 minutes. It’s so easy!





Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/19/20 16:25:37 -0400.

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