Today’s column responds to questions about why Social Security restricts online information after a person has filed, contesting income classification regarding the earnings test, filing before full retirement age and the WEP. Larry Kotlikoff is the founder and president of Economic Security Planning, a company that markets Maximize My Social Security, a Social Security benefits calculator referred to in this post.
See more Ask Larry answers here.
Ask Larry about Social Security:
Why Can’t I Get My Social Security Earnings Online After Filing?
Hi Larry, Now that I’ve filed for benefits, if I log into my Social Security account, absolutely nothing shows in my account other than the spousal benefit I am receiving now. Why can’t I see my earnings record and other information about their estimates of future potential benefits? Thanks, Jimmy
Hi Jimmy, I have no idea why Social Security won’t allow people to access their earnings histories online once they’ve filed for benefits. My guess would be that it’s due to limitations with their software, or perhaps related to some type of security concern. It’s a shortcoming butI doubt if any nefarious motives are involved, though I really have no way of knowing. Best, Larry
What Should I Do Next?
Hi Larry, I have been receiving Social Security retirement benefits since the beginning of 2017. In August of that same year, I received a lump sum settlement from an ex-employer. This was the result of a wrongful termination grievance filed by my union. I was terminated in September of 2016. The monies were reported to the IRS by my ex-employer as wages. I received a W-2 for same.
Social Security says they overpaid me in 2017 and I owe them. I filed a request for reconsideration with SSA. I received a notice from SSA several months later advising me of their intent to recoup the debt by withholding my monthly benefits for a year. They have began holding back my benefit payments to settle the debt. What should I do next? Thanks, Steve
Hi Steve, It certainly sounds like your settlement should be excluded from counting as 2017 earnings in your case. Hopefully, you submitted all of the details about this payment to Social Security when you filed your request for reconsideration.
It sounds like you should get in touch with Social Security to make sure that your reconsideration request is still pending. Assuming that you filed your request timely, Social Security should delay recovery of the alleged overpayment until a determination is made on your request. However, if they’ve already initiated recovery you’ll need to contact them and ask to have your payments resumed pending a determination on your appeal. Best, Larry
What Will Happen When I Start Receiving A TRS Pension?
Hi Larry, I will be 66 in June. I am a teachers assistant. I already get a Social Security divorced spousal benefit. My ex is retired already. I receive $1,025 per month. When I begin receiving my school pension, what will happen to my benefits? Thanks. Charlene
Hi Charlene, Once you start drawing your TRS pension, it’s likely that your Social Security divorced spousal benefits will need to be offset by 2/3rds of the amount of your TRS pension. That’s assuming that your earnings under TRS have been exempt from Social Security taxes. So it sounds like if the gross amount of your TRS pension more than about $1,537, your divorced spousal benefits will likely be reduced to zero. This is due to the Government Pension Offset provision (GPO). Best, Larry
What Will Happen If I Take Benefits Starting Now?
Hi Larry, I will be 65 later this year. I intend to keep working full time. What happens if I apply now before my full retirement age (FRA)? Thanks, Harold
Hi Harold, If you start drawing benefits before FRA and continue working, you’ll lose $1 of your benefits for every $2 that you earn in excess of $17,640 next year. In addition, your monthly benefit rate will at least initially be lower than your full retirement age rate because you claimed benefits early. Before filing, you can use an expert Social Security benefits calculator as described in other answers to determine your best strategy. Best, Larry
Am I Correct That At Age 70 There Will Be No Reduction To My Benefit Because Of WEP?
Hi Larry, My wife is 68 and I am 64. When she turns 70, she will collect her Social Security retirement benefit and I plan to collect a spousal benefit. Her benefit will be reduced because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) due to her Canadian Pension. I understand that my spousal benefit will also be reduced proportionally. Am I correct in assuming that at 70, when I collect my own Social Security, there will be no reduction to my benefit because of the WEP? Thanks, Roy
Hi Roy, As long as you don’t receive a pension based on your work that was exempt from Social Security taxes, your own Social Security retirement benefits won’t be affected by the WEP regardless of when you start drawing them. Your wife’s Canadian pension won’t have any bearing on your own Social Security retirement benefit rate. Best, Larry
To learn more about your Social Security options, visit Economic Security Planning, Inc.