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Signing Up for Social Security Benefits
This year, on the anniversary of my 66th birthday, I decided to apply for my social security benefits. It was an exhibition for me how our government works.
- Dec. 2017
My first task was to determine when to claim my benefits. I am qualified for full benefits at age 66. However, if I delay collecting, I would get an 8% bump for every year I delay collecting. Also, since my wife is still working, and our combined income is above the limit, part of my social security benefit is subject to income tax if I choose to collect now. After some calculatons, it was clear to me that given my circumstance, I would be better off collecting now rather than later. It is estimated that it would take 10 years or so to break even. That is to say, I would make just as much in life time benefits, collecting now rather than wait till age 70.
How to File?
I scheduled an appointment at my local social security office and went in to talk to them. They pulled up my information and asked a few questions and then gave me the exact number that I would be qualified to recieve assuming I file at my 66th birthday. They informed me the best way to file is to go online. Also, they informed me that my medicare premium would now be automatically deducted from my benefits. Since I turned 65 last year, I have been paying my medicare premiums by quarterly basis. This would make that payment process unnecessary.
In order to file on line, I needed to create an account at the social security website.
“https://www.ssa.gov“ - My Social Security.
I did the registration by entering a few key information and have a working account. Next step is to apply for benefits. For the life of me, I could not find a menu item or button to apply. After about 10 minutes, I gave up and called the 800 help number.
Here is the secret. You cannot file for social security at the Social Security Acount page. There is a completely different website for filing.
Here is the link -
This is a one time process to sign up and file for Social Security.
In a typical government bureacracy, a website is devoted for one single purpose.
Three months later, after filing for social security benefits and receiving my monthly distribution via direct deposit, I received a pleasant surprise. A check from the US Department of the Treasury.
It seems they are refunding two months of medicare payments. Since I had paid the quarter amount for my medicare insurance in advance, the social security had doubled dipped and now refunding the two months of premiums.
I am glad they caught this mistake but it does beg the question, how did this happened? All the information regarding my account is well know by the social security agency. You would think their accounting system would have known that I was paid up on my medicare till the end of the quarter. They could have started my social security payments and not deduct the medicare portion for the first two months. This would have avoided the need to send me a check.
The inefficiency of big government programs is front and center on exhibit in this simple case. If this happened to me, an average citizen, you can bet this is repeated million of times. The savings of having to issue and process and mail a check can be realized with a simple accounting change.
In summary, I guess social security is our safety net. After paying into the system all my adult life, I am finally reaping the benefits. It is estimated that it takes on average three workers to help pay one retiree. I guess I am thankful to all the people working. You are making my retirement a joy.
I just wish our government could be runned more efficiently.
© 2017 Jack Lee