Social Security Unveils Redesigned Retirement Benefits Portal at socialsecurity.gov
The Social Security Administration announced the first of several steps the agency is taking to improve the public’s experience on its website. The newly redesigned retirement benefits portal, at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/retirement, will help millions of people prepare for and apply for retirement.
“We are working hard to continue improving our website to provide people with clear, helpful information and easy access to our online services,” said Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security. “Our new retirement portal is more user-friendly and easier to navigate, whether someone is ready to learn about, apply for, or manage their retirement benefits.”
The redesigned portal will make it easier for people to find and read about Social Security retirement benefits, with fewer pages and condensed, rewritten, and clearer information. The portal also is optimized for mobile devices so people can learn and do what they want from wherever they want, and the portal now includes the ability to subscribe to receive retirement information and updates.
Good News Regarding Social Security Trust Fund
The Social Security Board of Trustees released their 2020 annual report earlier this week, which included some positive news: the financial health of the Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund has improved significantly and can now pay full benefits until 2065. This estimate is 13 years more than what was indicated in last year’s report and 33 years longer than the 2018 report. After 2065, the trust fund is predicted to pay 92 percent of benefits.
Update on Stimulus Checks
“Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department soon. People receiving benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment. They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filersenter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here section to provide their information. Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries with dependent children and who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Wednesday, April 22, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly. SSI recipients need to take this action by later this month; a specific date will be available soon.
Social Security Administration warns the public about a recent scam.
The Social Security Administration launched a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign to continue warning people about the ongoing nationwide telephone impersonation scheme. The scammers mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments for help with purported identity theft, or to avoid arrest for bogus problems with Social Security number.
Social Security officials also warn that people should also be on the lookout for a new version of this scam. Fraudsters are now emailing fake documents in attempts to get people to comply with their demands. Victims have received emails with attached letters and reports that appear to be from Social Security or the OIG (Office of Inspector General). The letters may use official letterhead and government jargon to convince victims they are legitimate.
Social Security Offices Will Soon Be Open Again On Wednesday Afternoons
Starting on January 8, 2020, Social Security offices nationwide will be open to the public on Wednesday afternoons, Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, announced. This change restores Wednesday public service hours that were last in place in late 2012.
Currently, a field office is generally open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to Noon on Wednesdays. Beginning on January 8, 2020, offices will remain open until 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, with typical field office hours from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Report an Online Social Security Scam
In an earlier blog, we reported that scams falsely claiming to be associated with Social Security were on the rise. In response, Social Security recently announced the launch of a dedicated online form at https://oig.ssa.gov to receive reports from the public of Social Security-related scams.
To combat these scams, Social Security and the OIG will use the new online form to capture data that will be analyzed for trends and commonalities. The OIG will use the data to identify investigative leads, which could help identify criminal entities or individuals participating in or facilitating the scams. Ultimately, these efforts are expected to disrupt the scammers, help reduce this type of fraud, and reduce the number of victims.
Cost of Living Adjustment for 2020: Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits Increase in 2020
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 69 million Americans will increase 1.6 percent in 2020, according to a recent announcement by the Social Security Administration.
Earnings Limits for Social Security Recipients Increased
If you work while collecting Social Security benefits, all or part of your benefits may be temporarily withheld, depending on how much you earn. However, those income limits increased slightly in 2019. Prior to reaching full retirement age, you will be able to earn up to $17,640 in 2019. After that, $1 will be deducted from your payment for every $2 that exceeds the limit. The 2019 annual limit represented a $600 increase over 2018’s limit of $17,040.
If you reach full retirement age in 2019, you will be able to earn $46,920, up to $1,560 from 2018’s $45,360 annual limit. For every $3 you earn over the 2019 limit, your Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1, but that will only apply to money earned in the months prior to hitting full retirement age.
Once you reach full retirement age, no benefits will be withheld if you continue working.
There are 2 new bills pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. The first is the Stop the Wait Act (H.R. 4386 and S. 2496). This bill would immediately eliminate the five month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, and gradually phase out the 24-month waiting period for Medicare coverage for SSDI beneficiaries.
The second bill is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act (H.R. 4280). This bill would update SSI eligibility criteria. More particularly, the Act would increase the SSI resource limit to $10,000 for individuals, and to $20,000 for a married couple. It also would change the index that is used to calculate the annual Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) to the CPI-E. Additionally, the Act would repeal the in-kind support and maintenance provision, eliminate the marriage penalty, increase the general income exclusion from $20/month to $123/month, and increase the earned income exclusion from $65/month to $399/month. The dollar figures that were increased would also be annually adjusted for inflation.
Of course, each of these bills has to be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and then signed by the President. Keep your fingers crossed.
Scammers claiming to be with the Social Security Administration
If you have watched the late night news over the past few years, you likely are aware that government imposter scams are skyrocketing. Since 2014 consumers have reported losses of more than $450 million as a result of these scams. In the first half of 2019, the Federal Trade Commission has received more than 200,000 complaints from people who were contacted by someone falsely claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service or another governmental entity.
Scammers claiming to be with the Social Security Administration are the latest of these government imposters. One of the latest scams involves a call from someone purporting to be from Social Security, and falsely contending that your Social Security account has been frozen or compromised. The aim of these calls is to steal your money or your personal information. If you receive a call like this, you should hang up immediately.