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Social Security

Book Description

Along with Medicare, Social Security is one of the "rites of passage" as older Americans retire. After contributing funds to this program their entire working life, people are anxious to start getting their monthly checks. Following a brief look at why Social Security was established and what it is intended to provide, this easy-to-understand guide carefully and simply explains all the benefits and circumstances in which one can take advantage of Social Security. Coverage includes enrolling in Social Secuirty for disability and survival benefits, as well benefits from the traditional age-requirement. The book also has a decision tree to make perfectly clear what one's benefits are depending on such factors as how early one benefits are taken, marital status, and what one believes his or her future may hold. The future of Social Security is also explored and with that possible impacts on one's future benefits.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Dedication
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Introduction
  6. Part 1: Welcome to Social Security
    1. 1 What Is Social Security?
      1. The Third Rail
      2. The History of Social Security
        1. Why Social Security Was Created
        2. Who Governs Social Security?
        3. Changes to Social Security
      3. An Introduction to Social Security Disability
        1. Disability Programs
        2. How Eligibility for Social Security Disability Is Determined
      4. What Social Security Means to You
        1. Understanding Your Benefits
        2. Social Security’s Role in Your Retirement
        3. The Three Age Categories
    2. 2 Protecting Your Number and Card
      1. The Importance of Protecting Your Number
        1. Avoiding Identity Theft
        2. Has Your Identity Been Stolen?
        3. Replacing a Lost or Stolen Card
      2. Requesting a New Social Security Number
        1. How to Qualify for a New Number
        2. Documents Required
        3. Changing Your Name on Your Card
    3. 3 How Social Security Works
      1. Is It Really Your Money?
        1. Who Pays into Social Security?
        2. Who Doesn’t Pay into Social Security?
        3. FICA
        4. What If You’re Self-Employed?
      2. Earning Work Credits Toward Future Benefits
    4. 4 Qualifying and Calculating Your Benefits
      1. Benefits for Retirees, Disabled, Children, and Survivors
      2. The Formula for Calculating Retirement Benefits
      3. Maximizing Spousal Benefits
        1. The “File and Suspend” Strategy
        2. What Are Survivors Benefits?
        3. The One-Time Death Benefit
      4. How Are Disability Benefits Calculated?
      5. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
      6. How Benefits Can Change
      7. Death of a Breadwinner
      8. Difference in Benefits Depending on When You File
        1. Benefits of Postponing Until Age
        2. Earnings Caps for Those Taking Early Retirement
  7. Part 2: Filing for Social Security
    1. 5 Record Keeping
      1. Determining Your Earnings
        1. Setting Up Your Social Security Account
        2. Keeping Tabs on Your Earnings
        3. Online Social Security Calculators
        4. The Windfall Elimination Provision
        5. Government Pension Offset (GPO)
      2. Ensuring Your Earnings Record Is Accurate
      3. How to Correct Errors
    2. 6 When to File
      1. The Minimum Age You Can Apply
        1. Wage Caps on Early Retirement
        2. The Benefits of Waiting Until Full Retirement Age
        3. The Benefits of Postponing Benefits Until Age 70
      2. Your Life Expectancy Factor
        1. Life Expectancy Calculator
        2. Retirement Estimator
      3. Family Considerations
        1. When Can a Spouse File?
        2. The Impact of a Spouse Reaching Full Retirement Age
        3. File and Suspend Strategy
        4. Survivor’s Strategy
        5. Filing for Spousal Benefits If You’re Divorced
        6. Children’s Benefits
      4. How to Apply for Social Security
        1. What to Expect in the Online Application
        2. The Next Step–Awaiting the Decision
        3. What If Your Application Is Denied or You Disagree?
      5. Qualifying at Age 65 Under Disability
        1. Eligibility Requirements for Disability over
        2. Social Security’s Blue Book of Impairments
        3. Medical-Vocational Allowance
        4. The “Worn-Out Worker” Rule
    3. 7 Filing for Benefits Before Reaching Full Retirement Age
      1. Making the Decision
      2. What Is Your Full Retirement Age?
      3. Pros and Cons of Taking Benefits Early
        1. Health Considerations
        2. Retiring Without Enough Saved
        3. Considerations If You’re Still Working
        4. Annual Income Caps
        5. Determining Your Break-Even Point
      4. Spousal Privileges
        1. What Are Spousal Benefits?
        2. How to Qualify
        3. File and Suspend Strategy
    4. 8 Filing at Full Retirement Age or Beyond
      1. Pluses and Minuses of Filing at Full Retirement Age
        1. Determining Your Full Retirement Age
        2. Determining Your Life Expectancy
        3. Other Longevity Factors
        4. No More Income Caps
        5. Strategies to Help You Increase Your Benefits
      2. Should You Wait to Take Social Security at 70?
        1. Why Everyone Should Take Their Benefits by Age
        2. The Advantage of Delaying Benefits Until Age
        3. It All Depends on Life Expectancy
      3. Filing Details
        1. Filing by Yourself
        2. Having a Financial Advisor Present
  8. Part 3: Benefits for All
    1. 9 Applying for Disability Benefits
      1. Three Ways to Apply
      2. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
        1. Definition and Duration of Disability
        2. The Blue Book’s List of Impairments
        3. Earning the Required Credits
        4. Qualifying for Disability as a Family Member
        5. Citizenship or Residency Requirements
        6. Income or Resource Limits
      3. Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
        1. What Is the Definition of Being Disabled?
        2. Duration of Disability Requirements
        3. Income Limits
        4. Resource Limits
        5. Citizenship and Residency Requirements
      4. The Application Process
        1. Documenting Your Symptoms
        2. Necessary Information and Documents
        3. Field Office Observations
        4. Processing Your Application
        5. The Impact of Other Disability Payments on Social Security Benefits
        6. How the SSA Makes Its Decision
      5. Receiving Benefits
        1. Disability Benefit Payments
        2. Receiving Medicare Benefits After 24 Months
        3. Returning to Work
        4. Ticket to Work Program
        5. Ticket to Hire Program
    2. 10 Filing an Appeal with Social Security
      1. When and How to File an Appeal
        1. Appealing a Disability Claim Denial
        2. Appealing Incorrect Retirement Benefits
        3. The Request for Reconsideration
        4. Requesting a Hearing
        5. The Appeals Council Review
        6. Federal Court
        7. Will Your Benefits Continue During the Appeal Process?
      2. Your Right to Representation
        1. How to Find a Representative
        2. How to Find a Lawyer to Help with Your Appeal
        3. Deciding If You Need an Attorney
    3. 11 Special Circumstances
      1. Social Security and Divorce
        1. How Benefits Are Affected by Divorce
        2. Criteria for Collecting Ex-Spousal Benefits
        3. How Much Will an Unmarried Divorced Spouse Receive?
        4. Applying for Benefits Based on an Ex-Spouse’s Work Record
      2. Social Security and the Death of a Spouse
        1. Survivors Benefits
        2. How to Apply for Survivors Benefits
        3. Calculating What Survivors Benefits You’re Due
        4. Maximum Family Amount
        5. Government Pension Offset
        6. Applying for the One-Time $255 Death Benefit
      3. If You Are Living Outside the United States
      4. Incarceration
    4. 12 Family Benefits
      1. Dependents and Spouse Benefits
        1. Who’s in the Family
        2. Relationship to the Retired or Disabled
        3. Age Qualifications
        4. Maximum Family Benefits
      2. How a Spouse Can File for Auxiliary Benefits
        1. Filing for Disability Benefits for Dependents
        2. How Can a Spouse Receive Disability Benefits?
      3. Reasons for Denying Spousal Benefits
      4. Do You Have Parental Responsibility?
      5. Other Issues Involving Family Benefits
        1. Same-Sex Couples
        2. How a Child’s Benefits Change with Age
        3. Caring for Sick Children or Relatives
        4. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
        5. Benefits for Severe Medical Conditions
    5. 13 Medicare
      1. Medicare Basics
        1. Signing Up for Medicare
        2. Defining Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D
        3. What Parts Should I Enroll In?
        4. Choosing the Correct Coverage
        5. The Cost of Medicare
      2. What Is Medigap?
        1. Medigap vs. Part C Medicare Advantage
        2. What Medigap Doesn’t Cover
      3. How Medicare Works
        1. The Donut Hole
        2. Open Enrollment Period
        3. Conditions Covered by Basic Medicare Parts A and B
      4. Qualifying for Medicare Before Age 65 Under Disability
        1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits
        2. Family Members for Those Approved for SSDI
        3. Railroad Retirement Disability Board (RRDB) Benefits
        4. End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or ALS
    6. 14 Medicaid: Medical Assistance for the Financially Challenged
      1. What Does Medicaid Cover?
        1. How to Apply for Medicaid
        2. Medicaid Requirements
        3. How Does Medicaid Compare to Medicare?
      2. Medicaid Benefits
      3. Financial Help for Medicare Part D
      4. Additional Help with Prescription Drug Costs
      5. State-Run Financial Assistance
        1. Paying for Part A and Part B Medicare Premiums
        2. Covering Other Costs
  9. Part 4: Living with Social Security
    1. 15 Taxes and Social Security
      1. Determining If Your Benefits Are Taxable
        1. It All Depends on Your Total Income
        2. Calculating Your Adjusted Gross Income
        3. When Your Combined Income Isn’t Taxed
      2. Do You Want Voluntary Withholding?
        1. What If You Earned Nontaxed 1099 Income?
        2. Withholding Taxes
        3. Requesting the Withholding of Federal Taxes
      3. State Taxes
    2. 16 Making the Most of Social Security
      1. When That’s All There Is
        1. There Is Help out There for You!
        2. How to Save on Food
        3. Transportation
        4. Additional Ways to Reduce Expenses
        5. Property Tax Relief for Seniors
        6. Health-Care Cost Help
        7. Housing Help
      2. Strategies to Stretch Your Social Security Benefits
        1. Downsizing Within Your Community
        2. Relocating to Another State
        3. Relocating to Another Country
        4. Living Frugally
        5. Exploring Available Discounts and Free Goods or Services.
    3. 17 Remaining in, or Returning to, the Workforce
      1. The Aging of the American Workforce
      2. How Does Continuing to Work Affect Your Benefits?.
        1. The Impact of Working on Retirement Benefits
        2. Disability Benefits and Work
        3. Survivors Benefits and Work
        4. How Increased Earnings May Impact Your Retirement Benefits
        5. What If You’re Self-Employed?
        6. Does It Matter Whether You Work Full-Time?
      3. Other Factors and Strategies That Affect Your Benefits
        1. The Windfall Elimination Provision
        2. Suspending Your Benefits
        3. Paying Back Benefits
  10. Part 5: Safeguarding Your Future
    1. 18 How Will You Spend the Rest of Your Life?
      1. Taking Stock
        1. Creating Your Bucket List
        2. Are You Going to Outlive Your Money?
        3. Taking Inventory of Assets, Savings, and Investments
      2. Developing a Budget
        1. How Much Money Is Going Out?
        2. Determining How Much Is Coming In
      3. Projecting Future Health-Care Costs
        1. Evaluating Health and Medical Costs
        2. Consider Long-Term Care Insurance
        3. Will You Have Enough to Live On?
        4. How Will You Cover the Shortfall?
    2. 19 What the Future Holds for Social Security
      1. Will Social Security Survive?
        1. Raising the Retirement Age
        2. Raising Funds by Increasing the Earnings Base
        3. Will the Government Ever Cut Benefits?
        4. Debates over Privatizing Social Security
        5. Rethinking the Third Rail of Politics
    3. 20 Taking Control of Your Financial Future
      1. Start Saving Now, Whatever Your Age
      2. Savings Options
      3. Living in Retirement Longer Than You Work
        1. Contribute to Employer 401(k) Plans
        2. Putting Money into an IRA
        3. Finding a Financial Advisor for Your Investments
    4. Ways to Cut Expenses
      1. Do You Really Need 1,000 Cable Channels?
      2. Consider an Electric or Hybrid Car
      3. Pay Off Credit Card Debt
      4. Grow Your Own Vegetables
      5. Downsize by Moving to a Smaller House
      6. Manage Your Credit Rating
      7. The Miracle of Compounding
      8. Turning Around Your Reversals of Fortune
  11. Appendixes
    1. A Glossary
    2. B Social Security Decision Tree
    3. C Resources
  12. About the Author