When to report work for the annual earnings test

Q: I retired last year, started Social Security, and expect to work part-time this year on a fill-in basis. If I reach the retirement earning limit amount for the year, is it my responsibility to notify Social Security? Are benefits reduced for work immediately or resolved at years’ end. I am 63.

A: Yes, it is your responsibility to contact Social Security. Report your estimated earnings for the calendar year as soon as you think your earnings will exceed the annual limit for your age. You can provide updated estimates during the year as needed for changes up or down.

Providing an estimated earnings amount to Social Security is needed when you expect to earn more than your earnings limit amount during the calendar year. For example, at age 63 in 2015, you are under full retirement age (FRA) for the entire year and must provide an estimate if expected gross wage earnings will exceed $15,720. An estimate is not needed when annual earnings are expected to below the earnings limit.

Adjustments based on your estimated earnings will take place as soon as possible in order to avoid having you incorrectly paid. The usual suggestion to people expecting to earn over the annual limit for their age is to provide an estimate as accurate as possible, but to the high side.

Later, when you receive your W-2 form at the end of the year, report your actual earnings for the year directly to Social Security. Based on your actual earnings, final adjustments are made to either send you benefits due or to withhold those incorrectly paid.

A list of your various Social Security reporting responsibilities is in the booklet, What You Need to Know When You Get Retirement Or Survivors Benefits, available online. Work activity is a topic discussed over several pages of the booklet and an excerpt from page 17 includes:

“Your earnings estimate and your benefits

We adjusted your benefits this year based on the earnings you told us you expected to receive this year.

If other family members get benefits on your record, your earnings may affect the total family benefits. But, if you get benefits as a family member, your earnings affect only your benefits.”   

“Revising your earnings estimate

When you work, you should save your pay stubs. If during the year, you see your earnings will be different from what you estimated, you should call us to revise the estimate. This will help us pay you the correct amount of Social Security benefits.”  

More about working while receiving Social Security retirement or survivors benefits is here.

Popular baby names of 2014 by state

Following up my earlier post about the popular baby names of 2014, the Social Security Administration has provided the most popular 2013 baby names by individual state.  You can look up the top 100 names for your state here.

In addition to each state’s top baby names, Social Security’s website has a list of the 1,000 most popular boys’ and girls’ names for 2014 and offers lists of baby names for each year since 1880.

Different spellings of similar names are not combined. For example, the names Caitlin, Caitlyn, Kaitlin, Kaitlyn, Kaitlynn, Katelyn, and Katelynn are considered separate names and each has its own rank.

The birth of a child is a special time for families. While having fun with the baby names list, Social Security Acting Commissioner Colvin encourages everyone to visit the agency’s website and create a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov.

For estimates and to see your work record, my Social Security is a personalized online account that you can use beginning in your working years and continuing throughout the time your receive Social Security benefits.

Nationally for 2014, the 10 most popular male and female names are:

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For states in my immediate area, here are the top 10 male and female baby names of 2014. See the complete list of 100 names for each state here.

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babynames2014-MN

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Divorced spouse benefits

Q: My ex-husband always earned much more than I did and I anticipated receiving Social Security through his record when he retired.

His retirement plans changed after our divorce and now he expects to continue working for several more years, or at least until he is much older than 62.

Can I receive Social Security as a divorced spouse from his Social Security record before he retires?

A: Yes, this is possible assuming all requirements are met. General requirements to receive Social Security benefits as a divorced spouse are here and include that:

  • the marriage lasted 10 years or longer
  • you are unmarried
  • you are age 62 or older and
  • you are not eligible for a higher Social Security through your own work than you would through the record of your ex-spouse.

When receiving benefits through an ex-spouses record, that person is usually receiving benefits too but an exception exists which could let you receive benefits  before your former husband starts Social Security.

If your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, you potentially could receive benefits through his record if you have been divorced for at least two years. To qualify for benefits means that your ex-spouse has enough work and has reached age 62.

You would be known as an “independently entitled divorced spouse” for SSA benefit purposes if you receive benefits this way.

 

Popular Baby Names for 2014 & more

Here is the Social Security press release announcing the most popular baby names of 2014 along with other information.

Noah and Emma Top Social Security’s List of Most Popular Baby Names for 2014

Agency Adds to Its Family with New Blog

 

Emma and Noah are America’s most popular baby names for 2014. Emma returns to the top spot she held in 2008 and hangs out in first place with Noah. There are a few new names in the top 10 this year—James (a former #1 from the ‘40s and ‘50s) on the blue side and Charlotte on the pink side, her first time ever in the top 10. Makes you wonder if the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge got a sneak peak at the list, since naming their baby girl Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte (which lands at #10) Elizabeth (which fell from the top 10 to #14) Diana (#297) of Cambridge. Social Security has a new addition this year too, Social Security Matters, the agency’s newborn interactive blog located at http://blog.socialsecurity.gov.

Here are the top 10 boys and girls names for 2014:

Boys: 1.) Noah Girls: 1.) Emma
2.) Liam 2.) Olivia
3.) Mason 3.) Sophia
4.) Jacob 4.) Isabella
5.) William 5.) Ava
6.) Ethan 6.) Mia
7.) Michael 7.) Emily
8.) Alexander 8.) Abigail
9.) James 9.) Madison
10.) Daniel 10.) Charlotte

For all the top baby names of 2014, go to Social Security’s website, www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/babynames/.

Social Security Matters, the agency’s new bundle of joy, launches as we celebrate 80 years of serving the American public, and is an addition to our communications family where people can find information on retirement, disability, Supplemental Security Income, online services, and much more. It also is a place where the public can engage in conversations with the agency about what matters most. The blog encourages discussion and offers important solutions. Much like being a new parent, making benefit decisions can be overwhelming. The blog is the latest in a long line of tools Social Security offers to help educate the public about their benefits and how to access agency services.

The birth of a child is a special time for families. While having fun with the baby names list, Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin encourages everyone to visit the agency’s website and create a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/.

my Social Security is a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits. Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries can have instant access to their benefit verification letter, payment history, and complete earnings record by establishing a my Social Security account. Beneficiaries also can change their address, start or change direct deposit information, and print a replacement SSA-1099 online.

Individuals age 18 and older who are not receiving benefits can also sign up for a my Social Security account to get their personalized online Social Security Statement. The online Statement provides workers with secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information, and estimates of future benefits they can use to plan for their retirement.

The agency began compiling the baby name list in 1997, with names dating to back to 1880. At the time of a child’s birth, parents supply the name to the agency when applying for a child’s Social Security card, thus making Social Security America’s source for the most popular baby names.

Each year, the list reveals the effect of pop-culture on naming trends. This year’s winners for biggest jump in popularity in the Top 1,000 are Aranza and Bode.

Aranza jumped an amazing 3,625 spots on the girls’ side to number 607, from number 4,232 in 2013. The Latin soap opera “Por siempre mi amor” was aired on Univision from 2013 to 2015. The show featured a young lead character named Aranza, and obviously had its effect on naming trends last year.

Bode raced ahead 645 spots, from number 1,428 in 2013 to number 783 in 2014. This might have had something to do with the Winter Olympics in early 2014, where Bode Miller continued his outstanding alpine skiing career by collecting his sixth Olympic medal. Not only is he the most successful male American alpine skier of all time, he is considered by many to be an American hero.

The second fastest riser for boys was Axl, a nod to both rock legend Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses and Axl Jack Duhamel, son of Stacy Ann “Fergie” Ferguson and Josh Duhamel. For girls, Montserrat, the lead character in a very popular Latin soap opera, was number two, joined by another Monserrat (spelled just one letter differently) at number three.

Popular baby names by state will be available at www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/babynames/ on May 14.

 

Medicare for spouse, without monthly benefits

Q: I receive Social Security and will be eligible for Medicare in 2017. My wife will be 65 at that time. She has not been employed long enough to receive her own Social Security retirement and does not want to start receiving as a spouse through my record until she is age 66.

Will my wife be able to get Medicare in 2017 on my work record at age 65 even if she has not applied for monthly Social Security benefits?

A: If a person is receiving Social Security benefits, his or her spouse can file for Medicare through their record at age 65 without filing for monthly cash benefits. Medicare Part A (Hospital) does not have a monthly premium. Medicare Part B (Medical) has a monthly premium.

At the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov, is the following:

“If you are within three months of age 65 or older and not ready to start your monthly cash benefits yet, you can use our online retirement application to sign up just for Medicare and apply for your retirement or spouses benefits later.” 

Information about benefits to a spouse is here. Age based benefits to a spouse can be started as early as age 62, at a reduced amount, so she does not need to wait until age 66 to begin monthly Social Security benefits. The choice is hers.

Note that future legislation can change existing rules.

 

SSA Annual Statistical Supplement, 2014, available

The Social Security Annual Statistical Supplement, 2014, is available now.

Prepared annually since 1940, the Supplement is a major resource for data on our nation’s social insurance and welfare programs. The majority of the statistical tables present information about programs administered by the Social Security Administration—the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program (OASDI), known collectively as Social Security, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

In addition, data are presented on the major health care programs—Medicare and Medicaid—and social insurance programs, including workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, temporary disability insurance, Black Lung benefits, and veterans’ benefits. The Supplement also includes program summaries and legislative histories that help users of the data understand these programs.

There is a wealth of useful information in the Supplement. View the Table of Contents and find the topics of interest to you.

Here are some tidbits from the Highlights and Trends section:

Social Security:

About 58.0 million persons received Social Security benefits for December 2013, an increase of 1,220,425 (2.2 percent) since December 2012. Seventy percent were retired workers and their spouses and children, 11 percent were survivors of deceased workers, and 19 percent were disabled workers and their spouses and children.

  • Seventy-three percent of the 37.9 million retired workers received reduced benefits because of entitlement prior to full retirement age. Relatively more women (75.4 percent) than men (70.3 percent) received reduced benefits.

Supplemental Security Income:

  • In December 2013, 8,363,477 persons received federally administered SSI payments—100,600 more than the previous year. Of the total, 2,107,524 (25.2 percent) were aged 65 or older; 4,934,272 (59.0 percent) were blind or disabled aged 18–64; and 1,321,681 (15.8 percent) were blind or disabled under age 18.

Medicare:

Number of enrollees in July 2013 (one or both of Parts A and B)   52.4 million

Aged                                     43.6 million

Disabled                                   8.8 million

Unemployment: Total payments, 2012    $42.6 billion

Workers Compensation: Benefit payments, 2012  $61.8 billion

Veterans’ Benefits:

Number of veterans with disability compensation or pension, 2013

Service-connected disability                     3,734,000

Nonservice-connected disability                   305,000

Poverty Data:

Percentage of population with income below poverty level, 2013

All ages                                                              14.5 percent

Children under age 18 living in families              19.5 percent

Persons aged 65 or older                                     9.5 percent

2014 Statistical Report

Does Social Security contact people at age 65 to enroll them in Medicare?

Q: Does Social Security contact people at age 65 to enroll them in Medicare?

A: Some people are automatically contacted at age 65 but not everyone is.

If you are already receiving monthly Social Security benefits, you are sent Medicare enrollment information several months before reaching age 65.

It is important to note that enrollment material is not sent by the Social Security Administration. This material is mailed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that is responsible for Medicare. Do not throw it away as junk mail.

In summary, the CMS Medicare mailing includes your Medicare card and tells you that enrollment in both Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Medical) of Medicare will take place at age 65 without any further action needed. If you do not want both Part A and Part B, you must contact Social Security.

Automatic enrollment in Medicare does not occur when you are not already receiving monthly Social Security benefits at age 65. Then you must take action yourself to enroll in Medicare, either by completing the online application or by contacting Social Security. Do this about three months before reaching age 65. You can sign up for Medicare without starting Social Security benefits.

Most people want Medicare Part A coverage at age 65, which does not have a monthly premium. If you have medical insurance through your own current employment, or the current employment of your spouse, then you might not want Part B at age 65. Medicare Part B does have a monthly premium.

Medicare Part A and Part B coverage is the same for everyone across the nation. General Medicare information and the online application are on the SSA website at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare/. Detailed Medicare information is at www.medicare.gov.

Enrollment in Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) is through private insurance companies, not through CMS or Social Security. Different policies are available and you shop for the one that best suits you.

 

Social Security Announces Vision 2025, a Long-Range Service Delivery Vision

This Social Security press release was released today:

Embarking on its 80th Anniversary of being a key piece of the Nation’s fabric, Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, today officially released Vision 2025. The vision will serve as a “North Star” to guide Social Security and show how the agency will accomplish and deliver three key priorities: superior customer experience, exceptional employees, and an innovative organization over the next decade and beyond.

We must be prepared to adapt as technology and society changes at an unprecedented rate,” Acting Commissioner Colvin said. “Vision 2025 is our way of making sure we keep up with these changes, and how we position ourselves to best serve the public in the future.”

When employees, customers, and partners are given the right tools to help them work better together, wonderful things happen. In shaping Vision 2025, Social Security reached out to as many individuals and organizations as possible for input. The agency engaged in active listening and communicating with internal and external stakeholders. Internally, the agency engaged employees, labor unions, and management associations. The agency encouraged and received feedback and ideas from the public through an online survey accessed on the agency’s website, www.socialsecurity.gov. The agency also worked with the National Academy of Public Administration, members of Congress, advocacy groups, and the Social Security Advisory Board. The input Social Security received resulted in “emerging themes” that led to the development of the three key priorities. 

Vision 2025 reflects Social Security’s full commitment—now and in the future—to offering customers choices in how they do business with us. This commitment includes sustaining a field office structure that provides face-to-face service and is responsive to members of the public who need or prefer face-to-face service.

Vision 2025 represents the agency’s commitment to continuous long-term planning. It will guide our more than 65,000 employees who continue to provide exemplary service to our customers,” Acting Commissioner Colvin said. “We are proud of our longstanding commitment to customer service and continual efforts to improve efficiency. We are also excited about our vision for serving the public in the next 10 to 15 years.”

For more information, you can access the Social Security Vision 2025 interactive website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/vision2025/

Social Security disability work incentives

Q: I receive Social Security disability and want to return to work. What will this do to my benefits?

A: For specific information about your own benefits, contact Social Security and speak with a representative.

In general, special rules called work incentives make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments and Medicare or Medicaid.

Remember that Social Security, including disability (SSDI), and SSI are different programs, with different work incentives for returning to work.

Always report a return to work. This is very important. Also report related changes including stopping the work.

For Social Security disability, a main work incentive is the trial work period (TWP).

The trial work period allows you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months. During a trial work period, you receive full disability benefit regardless of how much you earn as long as your work activity has been reported and you continue to have a disabling impairment. The 9 months does not need to be consecutive and your trial work period will last until you accumulate 9 months within a rolling 60-month period. Certain other rules apply. In 2015, gross monthly earnings of $780 or more will usually count as a month toward the TWP.

After a trail work period is completed, your work activity will be reviewed to see if you earnings are considered substantial gainful activity (SGA) . Exceptions apply but, in general, in 2015 monthly gross earnings of at least $1,090 are considered SGA for a person who is not blind and $1,820 for a person who is blind. Ongoing ability to work at a substantial gainful activity level can result in benefits being stopped.

If this occurs, you have an extended period of disability (EPE).

This means that if your disability benefits stop after successfully completing the trial work period and ongoing work at the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level, your Social Security disability benefits can be automatically reinstated without a new application for any months in which your earnings drop below the SGA level.

This reinstatement period lasts for 36 consecutive months following the end of the trial work period. You must continue to have a disabling medical impairment in addition to having earnings below the SGA level for that month.

Continuation of Medicare.

Of major importance, even if cash benefits end, for most beneficiaries existing Medicare coverage continues through the EPE and beyond.

Most persons with disabilities who work will continue to receive at least 93 consecutive months of Hospital Insurance (Part A); Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B), if enrolled; and Prescription Drug coverage (Part D), if enrolled, after the 9-month Trial Work Period (TWP).

You do not pay a premium for Part A. Although cash benefits may cease due to work, you have the assurance of continued health insurance. (93 months is 7 years and 9 months.)

This is not a complete list of work incentives for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). There are different work incentives for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). More general information is here.

Again, for details about your own benefits, speak to a Social Security representative.

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