"To be too certain of anything is the beginning of bigotry." -- Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Working on Social Security

     I am finally applying for my Social Security benefit. I say "finally" because I am already past my so-called full retirement age. I filled out the form online, earlier today, and found that it is remarkably simple and easy (as long as you know when and where you you born, when and where you were married (and divorced if that applies) and all your other other basic information). I'd recommend the online route to pretty much anyone.

    However, I did have a couple of questions, about when my payment will actually appear at my bank, and how my Medicare premiums will now get paid. So I called the 800 number:  1-800-772-1213. Mistake. After navigating through the multilevel phone tree, I was asked if  I want to speak to a representative.

     "Yes," I said.

     Click, click . . . then the mechanical voice informed me, "The wait is one hour and eighteen minutes."

     No kidding. An hour and eighteen minutes. So I guess my questions will remain unanswered. I'll find out when I start receiving benefits . . . whenever that is, however much it is, and whether or not my Medicare premium will be deducted.

     Social Security and Medicare are wonderful programs, but . . . .

     Anyway, speaking of retirement income, I have started writing a column for the U. S. News Retirement website, for a little extra money. I thought some people might be interested, and since I'm guessing not everyone follows the U. S. News Retirement website, I figured I'd give you a link to go check it out. (I can't reproduce the whole article here because, you know, I wrote it for U. S. News, not for Sightings Over Sixty. But I can give you the lead-in, and then if you're interested you can click over to the site.)

     Regardless, the U. S. News Retirement site does offer some good basic retirement advice, and I recommend perusing it now and then. Anyway, here's what I have to offer:

     "There are many reasons to keep working in retirement. Of course there's the money. But beyond that, it's something that gets you out of bed in the morning – a place to go, a schedule to keep and a routine to anchor your life. You may also want the social interaction you find at work, and perhaps the sense of accomplishment for a job well done.

     "Nearly three quarters of employed Americans plan to keep working after normal retirement age, according to a 2017 Gallup poll. But most people (63%) don't want a full-time job. They don't want the stress, and they sure don't want to spend all day in a workplace with a poisonous atmosphere. And that's one great aspect of a retirement job: You have can quit if you don't like it, because you're not dependent on the job to support your family . . ."

     And so, if you want some ideas for part-time work in retirement, click over to my story on U. S. News Retirement. I believe you can leave a comment there if you want; but better to come back here to leave a comment so people will see it.

     I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. B and I are going to see a public garden and a lights display over the weekend. And then it's family, which is what the holidays are all about, aren't they?


DJan said...

Wonderful, Tom. I've been receiving my Social Security in my bank account for almost ten years now, and as I remember it was pretty immediate. My birthday is on the first, which means I receive my payment on the second Wednesday of the month. Hubby was born on the 27th, so he receives his on the fourth Wednesday. The Medicare Part A is automatically deducted, as is the co-payment I make for my Medicare Advantage plan. Hope it all turns out well for you and you keep us posted. Now off to check out that link. :-)

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Not ready to retire yet, but I am trying to get my chicks in a row. I'm off to read your article.

Barb said...

Medicare part a is free and part B is automatically deducted. I have retiree insurance which comes out of my pension, so I cannot speak to those who have an advantage plan as to how it is paid. Social security arrives on a Wednesday, depending on your number, not your name (Im pretty sure), I receive mine on the second Wednesday of the month but my bank releases it a day early. For what it is worth, if you go on a weekday early, my experience is that the in person office is MUCH more efficient and kind and personable, if you have none near you. They advise you to apply a few months in advance, but my experience is that if you are at the appropraite age already , things are pretty quick.Also, onece you are "full" retirement age, as Im sure you know, you can work without penalties or losing money in retirement.

Jono said...

I am also full retirement age, but still work full time. I do take a spousal benefit, which I save, and will let my SS Benefit grow until I am 70. At least that is the plan so far.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Whoo Hoo! Congrats on getting your SS! We are putting ours off as long as we can because we fully expect to be living a VERY long time and don't need the money yet. And congrats also on your new "side gig" writing for the retirement page. I think the more helpful information out there for others, the better. Thom hits 65 next November and I haven't even started wading through all the medicare info....any tips you have in the year to come will be appreciated by us both! Have a very Merry Christmas and we'll look forward to many great posts in 2018! ~Kathy

Unknown said...

Getting my first check in January and decided to apply early (62 years old). Considering the amount I paid into the plan over the years, my first 3.5 years of collecting is basically getting my money back. Check you SS statement. It tells you how much you paid into the plan while working.

Waiting didn't make sense to me, since no one knows how long you are going to live. My mother died at 40 years old, my father died 2 months short of his 65th birthday so he never received Medicare although he took SS at 62 years old and a friend just passed this year without collecting SS or Medicare. She had just turned 64 years old. Many other stories of those who never received the benefits that were paid into all those years.

I had no trouble applying online. A representative called me with some questions because I was married for more than 10 years and she needed information about my ex-husband. I had requested a meeting at my local office when I went online, but cancelled after speaking the representative on the phone. Got a letter in the mail letting me know how much I would get and when to expect my first check.

Anonymous said...

David and I receive SS benefits and we really like not having a stressful job.

stephen Hayes said...

That's an abnormally long time to wait on hold. I'd have hung up also.

Eri said...

Perfect words you're saying! Social work is very useful to everyone, I believe. But I think that any work you do, if it is in socially good conditions, will be a satisfactory work. I work in a higher education institution and I just love working there. My dream job.
Here's the site of it, in case you have doubts of how wonderful it is :)


Juhli said...

As others have mentioned, you will get a letter with that info. We have found that they respond very quickly.

If you were already paying for you Medicare Part B yourself you may have to change that method of payment. I made an appointment at my local SS office to discuss my switch from employer provided insurance to Medicare Part B and they were extremely helpful.

BTW, the long wait may have been due to vacations for the holidays!

Bob Lowry said...

If I remember correctly, the Social Security checks starts the month after you officially sign up. I signed up on my birthday in May a few years ago and the first check came in June, on a date determined by my birth date. In my case it is the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

As someone noted above, you do have to switch how your Medicare Part B is paid, but it will be deducted from your check.

Anonymous said...

Funny...I applied online yesterday. It was pretty easy. You can select when to start getting checks up to 4 months out so in my case, I selected April 2018.
The site then said:
If you were born on the...
1st–10th of the month: Expect your check to be deposited on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.
11th–20th of the month: Expect your check to be deposited on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.
21st–31st of the month: Expect your check to be deposited on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

I decided to start at 64 and the Mrs. will wait until 70.

David @ iretiredyoung said...

Hi Tom
I'm not from the U.S, so the Social Security doesn't apply to me, but out of interest I do have a question.
Is it better to take social security payments once you become entitled even if you don't need the money? I was thinking that way saves your own cash/investments that could, for example, be passed onto your family when we go to the big place in the sky. Whereas presumably undrawn social security can't be bequeathed? I hope that my question makes sense.

By the way, I completely agree about the need to have something to get you out of bed in the morning, keep social contact etc, and a job can do that (as can some other things for some people). But for me, the downsize of a job is the lack of flexibility - if I want a lazy day, or 8 weeks holiday a year, then a job makes that difficult. I'm trying to find what gives me the best of both worlds.

David H said...

Hi Tom

I signed up for my benefits online. It was very easy. However, I was going to start collecting in September meaning I would get my first check in October. However I decided that I would want to collect the money earlier and made an amendment to my application. This seemed to be no problem. Social Security called to verify my request and this was no problem. However, they called at 4:45 a.m. and I was sound asleep and had to answer the phone in bed. They do not seem to realize that all the country is not on east coast time!

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

Will you ever get your money back that you did not take by retiring on time even with your increased monthly check?

Tom said...

David -- Books have been written on that question. The bottom line is, you should take SS benefits early (age 62) if you really need the money, or if you don't expect to live a long life. Wait to age 66 or 70 if you can afford to (you're getting a 7 - 8% risk-free return which you cannot get anywhere else) and esp. if you have a longer life expectancy.

So, Barbara, who knows? But my parents lived to age 90, so I'm betting on living, not on dying. (Even if I'm wrong, it helps me psychologically.)

P.S. Ironically, I later chatted with the computer, and someone called me back in 15 minutes. So as you all said, my b'day is the 14th, so I will get first payment on the third Wed. of Feb. The guy said my Medicare payment will automatically get deducted and no longer come out of my bank account ... I'll let you know if that actually happens.

P.P.S. I'm impressed by how much everyone knows about SS!

retirementreflections said...

Interesting post, Tom. I can't believe that you did not want to wait one hour and 18 minutes on the phone. And how do they know that the wait would be that long anyway? Do they cut people off mid-sentence when their time is up?
Wishing you and B a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year!

Barbara said...

I did like you. Signed up on-line and easy peasy starting getting checks. I think I got a letter soon after that told me the exact amount and date. I just remember that the check you receive in December is November's payment. I signed up so that Medicare and Part D are both taken out of my check. I didn't do that at first and sent a check in quarterly for Part D. When I changed insurers for Part D I signed up for the automatic payment from my check.

priscilla said...

I started using my hubby's spousal benefit a yr ago & am holding off till I'm 69 in Oct. My hubby just called in for his (we had a personal ph no!) & he's getting his 1st check in Feb....he'll work p/t for a couple more yrs or til he just doesn't want to work any longer! He's self employed. We have a Medicare Advantage plan, so MC just takes the $$ out monthly. No sweat in that dept.
Congrats on getting started with SS.

Denise said...

It's been awhile since I stopped by. I am recuperating from total knee replacement, which seems to be a Rite of Passage these days. I did want to comment about having something to do in retirement. Maybe I am weird, but I had to get up for someone since I was 6 years old (don't count elementary school vacations) and by golly, I LIKE having nothing I have to get up for! That said, I have had various sleep disorders for decades, so I never know what the night will bring and it's nice to not have to worry about that. I really never wanted a career, being a homemaker and mother would have been enough for me, but life happens. Now, I can be what I want. And that means whatever I want. I am bound by doctors appointments, physical therapy for the time being, but there will always be some exercise program, two meals out a month with friends, Bible study and choir practice. Other than that, I can do whatever I darn well please since for 56 years I could not. I love it! (I get my check on the third Wednesday)