Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits

Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits

Although Social Security is only one source of retirement income, it is an important source and few realize how those benefits can be maximized with a little planning. First, anyone can go to ssa.gov/mystatement to get an estimate of their anticipated benefits. As of May 2011, paper statements of benefits are only mailed to those 60 and older so younger workers must sign up to receive annual statements via email. Election of benefits either early or late is an important decision that requires some advanced planning. Age 62 is the earliest age a worker can collect benefits. Those born after 1960 must wait until age 67 to reach full retirement age under Social Security. However, taking Social Security at age 62 results in a permanent reduction of 20-30% in benefits depending upon the age of the retiring worker. Moreover, if a worker takes benefits at 62 and dies, their surviving spouse will not receive full benefits either. Therefore, a higher wage earning spouse should consider waiting until full retirement age to claim benefits. Factors such as whether a worker or their spouse is likely to have a long life expectancy, whether other family will need to qualify for benefits based on a worker’s record (ie: survivor benefits), or whether a worker really “needs” the Social Security income prior to full retirement age are important to consider when deciding when to claim benefits. Those who are not in “need” of the retirement income can even elect to defer taking benefits at age 67 and wait until age 70, thus receiving a “delayed retirement credit” for every month they defer between...
Why Was My Disability Claim Denied?

Why Was My Disability Claim Denied?

By G. Thompson Miller, Of Counsel The attorneys at Brinkley Walser work with Social Security disability clients, in many cases meeting these individuals for the first time after their initial disability claim has been denied. Many of them turn to us for help, not understanding why their claim was denied. I have put together this scenario between an attorney and a theoretical client that I hope will answer many questions you may have about denial of disability benefits: Potential Client: “Why was my claim denied when I really need it and there are so many people on disability who don’t deserve it? John Doe, who lives down the street from me, got his disability even though there is not a thing wrong with him. Can you help me?” Lawyer: “I can’t tell you how John Doe got his disability because I only see people in need who have been turned down. I don’t see the people who get it that don’t deserve it, but don’t be too quick to judge the book by the cover. John Doe may look fine for all outward appearances but may actually be dealing with some very serious problems; otherwise, he would probably not be on disability. It is not at all easy to get on disability, and in the absence of fraud on the system I see little chance that someone who can work will get on disability.” Potential Client: “Why is it so difficult to be approved?” Lawyer: “Let’s start with the basics. The term ‘disability’ is defined in the Social Security Act as the inability to engage in ANY substantial gainful...