Tag Archives: SSA

Beauty Of Social Security: Payments In Arrears, Medicare Premiums In Advance!

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE and ENJOY here.


Got this letter from Social Security yesterday and its obvious irony made me smile.

That Social Security pays one month in arrears is legendary. So, the month you are due to start getting ‘Social’ you don’t get paid. You get paid the following month. I think this means that YOU miss out on a month while still alive but your estate will get that month when you die. Nothing you can do.

So, you would think that the same rule would apply to Medicare premiums, i.e., they will collect in arrears to stay lock-step with their payments. No, Siree. They collect premiums one month in advance! Talk about nickel-and-diming folks.

Only in the U.S. of A.


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by Anura Guruge

I Got My ‘Medicare’ Card Today — A Few Weeks Earlier Than Expected.

by Anura Guruge


new style social security card Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE.


They say that they send it to you three months ahead of your start date. So, I was not expecting it for at least another couple of weeks. But, I was glad to have got it.

The Social Security Administration (SSA), whatever people might say about it, is on the ball — other than when it comes to calculating children’s benefits, which takes them months.

I think I am in the first batch of folks to get the NEW style Medicare cards, sans a Social Security number. From what I have seen they only started sending out the new style cards as of mid-April 2018.

As soon as I got the card, and had scanned it for posterity, I went ahead and set up my MyMedicare.gov account. Easy enough, after I worked out that they want my user-id in all caps though I typed it in lowercase. Now just have to select a Part C ‘Advantage’ plan with drug coverage and I am all set.


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by Anura Guruge

U.S. ‘Social Security’ Came To Be This Day 82-Years Ago — August 14, 1935: Rejoice & Enjoy It While We Can!

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE and read here: Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Social_Security_in_the_United_States


I started collecting my Social Security as soon as I turned 62 — in 2015. I wasn’t going to wait. I paid in enough and I wanted to reap the benefits. I do not believe or agree with delaying when you start collecting.

I like the Social Security Administration (SSA). When I lived in Maryland, nearly 30-years ago, many of my neighbors worked for the SSA. The SSA is no perfect but they try and by and large I have found them to be very helpful.

Yes, I worry as to the future of Social Security. There are so many EASY fixes. First and foremost the max. contribution CAP should be abolished. Pay SS on all your earnings with NO Cap. That will help the funding no end.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was much a DAMN FINE president. What a stark contrast to what we have today. Yikes.


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by Anura Guruge

Social Security (SSA) Child Benefits — Allow At Least 4 Months (If NOT Longer).

by Anura Guruge


ssachildbenefits

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I wanted (make that ‘needed’) my Social Security (SSA) retirement as soon as I turned 62 in September 2015.

I had been waiting/planning for that for years. Per the SSA recommendation (of doing so 3 months ahead of time) I applied, in person, for my September 2015 retirement in early June 2015. I made an appointment at the local Concord, NH office and went and met with them. It was very smooth and pleasant (and I sang their praises). There were a couple of small wrinkles and I was very glad that I could deal with these in person rather than online. The two ‘wrinkles’ having to do with a minute monthly pension I get from the U.K. and the fact that I am divorced (and as such have an ex-wife). The Concord office dealt with these real well. They also told us, though we already knew, that the two kids, 9 & 14 at the time, were entitled to MORE benefits. Deanna has been disabled for years and the kids were receiving benefits through her. The Concord office, however, was very clever in not saying ANYTHING as to how much the kids would get when my retirement kicked in. To be fair they were also vague about how much my retirement would be because it had to be offset by that minute pension from the U.K. But it was all good …

I knew I would not get my first payment until November. I had seen that online and I am GLAD that I had because it did not come as a surprise when I was officially told that though I turn 62 in September my first payment would be in November. I think unless your birthday is on the 1st of the month there is always this ‘2 month’ delay BECAUSE you are only entitled AFTER the first FULL month after you turn 62 (65 or whatever age you elect after 62).

So I applied, in person, in June and within 2 weeks we had sorted out the two ‘wrinkles’. Around August I got a letter stating that I would start receiving my benefits as of the 2nd TUESDAY of November 2015. That was cute. Yes, SSA normally pays benefits on Wednesday. But the 2nd Wednesday of 2015 was November 11, Veteran’s Day, and a Federal Holiday. No mention of the child benefits. I also set up my SSA online account BUT neither I nor Deanna can access the kid’s benefits because they have their own SS numbers. Around September 11 I called Concord to see IF they could give me an update on the Child Benefits. They would only talk to me if Deanna was on the call since the kids, at that point, were linked to her account. Not a problem. In September they had NO news. Told us to call back in a month. So we called again in October, November and December. Always mid-month, around the 11th. No news BUT they continued to get the benefits they were getting through Deanna in October & December.

Deanna’s December payment, as always was on the 4th Wednesday — December 23, 2015. NO PAYMENTS FOR THE KIDS! No letter. Nothing. Boom. 2 days before Christmas. No payment. Bit of a blow, but luckily we could weather it. Called Concord again. As ever VERY NICE. Very helpful. But they had no idea. They, like us, were amazed that we had not had a letter.

The only news mid-January was that they were STILL calculating the new kids benefits! No payment January.

Called again mid-February. Ahhh! They had an update. They even had a tentative number! Said that payments would resume in March — 4th week.

Well on the 4th THURSDAY of February two payments arrived — back pay going back to November.

I just thought I should chronicle this in case any of YOU are waiting for Child benefits. The patience of Job helps.

It is crazy. I also came to realize that maybe they don’t get this that often with retirement — as opposed to disability, i.e., folks with kids under 18. Yes, it is not uncommon, of course, but we are definitely not in the majority. Hope this helps.

The Concord, NH SSA office is MAGIC. Very, very, very helpful BUT they can only report on what is taking place in Baltimore or in our case Philadelphia. 


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by Anura Guruge

Social Security Administration: Needs 3 Months To Manually Calculate Child Benefits?

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


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>>
Kudos to SSA office Concord, N.H.
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Workman’s Comp. offset.


ssachild11


sacrebluepig


Well, as I have shared with YOU a few times I applied for my Social Security pension now that I (to my utter amazement) lived to see 62. I don’t care what all the so called experts claim, I was NOT going to wait a day beyond my 62nd birthday. Waiting any longer seems very stupid and shortsighted. As the saying goes: “A bird in bed is worth four at the bar”.

I went to the local Social Security office, in Concord, in June, and did all the paperwork. Yes, they made me jump through some hoops but I managed.

I was TOLD that since I had two eligible kids under 18 that they too can get some of the benefits. I did not complain. I, over the years, had paid a lot of money into SSA.

Well, I have yet to see a check (let alone a proper cheque) BUT my first one is said to be on Wednesday, November 10, 2015. There were some scuffles along the way but eventually it appeared that I was all set. I do have a letter to say that — though I know it means diddly.

So that was June. We are now in October. 4 months.

Not a word about the kids benefits.

We have called 3 times — and it has to be ‘WE’ since they will only tell Deanna the information about the kids!

Last but one time we called, in September, we were told that ‘they’ will start looking into the kids’ benefits on October 8, 2015. On Monday, October 26 we called.

We were told that they have to MANUALLY compute the benefits because Deanna is on disability and that this could take 3 months to complete.

That blows my mind.

How can any computation, even by hand, take 3 months? We are talking about computing the value of Pi to trillion decimal points.

This is beyond STUPID.

Tell me the parameters and I will create an Excel spreadsheet for them in a few hours.

Amazing. Amazing.


Kudos To The Social Security Administration (SSA) Office In Concord, N.H.

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Concord, N.H. SSA office at 70 Commercial St.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


Credit where credit is deserved and due.

I made an appointment at the SSA Concord [NH] office, in 70 Commercial St., so that I could go an apply for my SSA pension now that I will turn 62 in September. Yes, of course I know that I could have applied online. But, if I applied online I needed to send my 62 year old birth certificate, issued in Ceylon, at the ‘Slave Island’ registry office, to Baltimore! You have to send the original or a certified copy. I HOPED that by applying in person, at an office, I might be able to hold onto my birth certificate. That was INDEED the case. So, it worked out exactly as I was hoping it would. Deanna was skeptical. But she had to admit that ‘it worked’.

This was the third time in 8 years that I have visited that SSA office. Each time I have been pleasantly surprised at their cordiality, courtesy and professionalism. Punctual too! I had a 10:30 appointment yesterday and I made sure to be early. You have to ‘punch in’, with your Social, when you arrive. So they knew I was there. They called me in 5 minutes early! That alone was impressive.

Very nice people. All three of my interactions with them have been superlative. I know people love to say unkind things about government workers BUT these folks really are trying to be nice and helpful. So lets give credit where credit is due. It was a pleasant experience. No hassle. Yes, they wanted a ton of additional paper that I now have to mail in — but that is fair.

Just wanted to let you know. IF you are in New Hampshire and you have to deal with the SSA do NOT hesitate in contacting the Concord office. They are very nice and will take care of you — WELL.

P.S., I am not trying to curry favor. I have paid into my SSA and I am now due. SMILE.


Huge, Heartfelt THANKS to Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s Office

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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.by Anura Guruge


This had to do with an arcane law that taxes what is called the ‘workman’s comp offset‘ in one’s Social Security disability. At a time when the fairness of the overall tax system is being debated it is very germane to talk about this since it taxes one on benefits that one did NOT RECEIVE! Yes, you read that right. You pay taxes on SS benefits you did NOT receive. ‘Workman’s Comp Offset’ applies to those disabled that received a Workman’s Comp. settlement in addition to the SS disability they receive. The ‘OFFSET’ is the amount that SS deducts from your SS disability to compensate for what you got from Workman’s Comp. That is perfectly fair and valid.

[Here is a very crude, and probably unrepresentative example just to show you what we are talking about. Lets say your SS disability calculations based on all the formulas they use is meant to be $162/month. You receive a Workman’s Comp settlement, say a lump sum, which per the laws of most states, including NH, is then reported to the SS as an amortized MONTHLY payment spread over the recipient’s life expectancy. For this example lets say that SS was using a Workman’s Comp monthly payment of $32. SS would now reduce the $162 by $32 and only pay $130 a month. Get it?]

Here is the CATCH. SS, in the annual SSA-1099 tax document they issue and send to the IRS, states the ‘Offset’ as part of the taxable benefit. So, per my crude example above, they would report $32 x 12 months, $384, to the IRS as the ‘workman’s comp offset’. That $384 is taxable, though it is actually the monies the SSA never paid the recipient. To be fair, this is also ‘OK’ because you don’t get taxed on ALL of your SS payments. So by the time you have done all of the ‘1/2 of line 2 times 0.85 of line 16 less 1/3 of line 38‘ the numbers become manageable. Quite a few people don’t pay any taxes on their SS anyway.

But, if the SSA makes a $58,958 ERROR in what they report on your SSA-1099 you are in deep trouble! Since it is reported to the IRS there is no wriggle room.  That was what happened to my wife. We were very fortunate that Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office, in particular Cara Osborn, Special Assistant for Constituent Services, of the Dover Office, jumped in, contacted the Social Security Administration (SSA) and helped us get a new, amended SSA-1099 – with just enough time for us to file our tax return without having to seek an extension (something I had never done and was very nervous about having to do). Thank YOU, Cara … and Mrs. Shaheen.


My wife who had been a Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA) for over 9 years got badly injured in mid-2006 when she and another LNA were trying to transfer an elderly patient from her bed to a chair. During the transfer the patient ‘let go’ — basically stopped trying to support herself. Though both LNAs were using the ‘transfer belts’ that they are supposed to use, my wife ended up supporting a person considerably heavier than her. She herniated multiple disks in one go. She was off work and is still in pain despite major back surgery. She got a Workman’s Comp settlement in 2008 and after a hearing with a judge, in ‘late’ 2010, SSA disability. So, that is the background.

Since her SSA disability only kicked-in in late 2010, SSA didn’t get around to doing all of the Workman’s Comp calculations till 2011. So everything, which is backdated etc., was included in the 2011 SSA-1099. As soon as I saw it I knew that something was wrong. The reported ‘workman’s comp offset’ was close to three times her ENTIRE workman’s comp. settlement. Even with backdating etc. I could not see how any offset could end up being three times what was being offset. My wife called the SSA. This was in mid-January, 2012. After 40 minutes she spoke to a lady. At one point this SSA lady came to the same conclusion as me: ‘how can the offset be so much bigger than the original amount‘. She promised that she will get it looked at and that we will receive a letter in a month.

The month anniversary came. No letter. We waited 3 days and my wife called again. This time an even longer wait. They said ‘Oh, you should get a letter by March 15‘. I was getting worried. We went down to the local SSA Office in Concord and waited in line. They were MOST HELPFUL. We spoke to two agents. They both said: ‘there is something wrong‘. They then also went onto say: ‘we can’t fix it here. It has to be fixed in Baltimore and you are looking at at least 2 months‘. That would have put us beyond April. I asked if there was anything else we could do. They said you could try contacting one of the US representatives or Senators. I decided to contact Mrs. Shaheen given that we have always been very impressed with her. We wrote to the D.C. office. Within 72 hours we had a call. We had to sign and return a ‘release’ form so that they could contact SSA on our behalf. We did that forthwith. Cara, from Dover, handled all of this graciously — always supportive, ever helpful. On March 19 we got an amended SSA-1099, with the offset $58,958 less than that originally reported. I had time to do our taxes.

Thank you Mrs. Shaheen, Cara …, all at Mrs. Shaheen’s multiple offices, and all those at SSA that helped us out. [Yes, my wife has had two lawyers. The ever impeccable Shawn Nichols of Wescott, Dyer, Fitzgerald, & Nichols, PA, who handled her Workman’s Comp and another who handled the SS hearing. My wife contacted them both. There was nothing they could do. This problem had to be fixed by the SSA.] So, I hope this helps anybody else that finds themselves in a similar bind.