Have you ever tried to use a power of attorney (POA) for Social Security (SS) purposes? If you haven’t, save yourself the trouble. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not accept it.
After multiple clients experienced frustration at the Social Security office, I reached out to John Ross, an elder law attorney and co-host of our podcast (Big Picture Retirement) for an explanation and guidance.
He said, “There is no Social Security Power of Attorney. Powers of Attorney are creations of state law and vary wildly from state to state. Since the federal agencies like the SSA do not want to have to separately review POAs based on both the facts and circumstances of their creation and the various state laws that may be applicable, these agencies have taken the position that they will not accept a POA under any circumstances. Instead, they have developed federal regulations related to incapacitated beneficiaries of federal programs and established criteria under who the agency will deal with. Since federal law trumps state law, there is nothing an agent under a power of attorney can do to alter this structure.”
How do you help someone with their SS issues if the SSA won’t accept a POA? Essentially a person wanting to assist a SS beneficiary will have two options.
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Social Security benefits for children are a big deal. In January 2017, there were more than 4.2 million children receiving Social Security benefits because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired or deceased. These benefits payments to children total more than $2.6 billion every month.
Sadly, many children don’t get the benefits for which they are eligible. Most people don’t know about the qualifications and rules for this special benefit, so they don’t know to apply for the children in their lives.
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A reader asks a question about the reduction of Social Security Spousal Benefits
Will my spouse’s Social Security benefits be reduced?
My spouse began collecting her Social Security benefits at age 64. I plan on retiring at 67, later in 2017. When I retire, I will begin collecting SS on my earnings. The plan is to have my wife switch from collecting on her earnings to collect half of mine because mine is greater. Will she be able to collect half of my benefit, or will her benefit be reduced because she started collecting early on her earnings?
Good question! It would seem relatively straightforward, but then again…we’re dealing with the Social Security Administration.
Here’s the short answer:
Your wife’s spousal benefit is actually comprised by two separate benefit payments. First, there is her own benefit. Second, she has the ‘spousal top off.’ She becomes eligible for her own benefit at age 62, and eligible for the spousal benefit when you file for your own benefits.
Here’s how it’s calculated.
Her FRA benefit is compared to 50% of your FRA benefit. If hers is less than that number, it is ‘topped off’ to bring the total up to 50% of yours. Since she filed early, her own benefit will be reduced. However, the spousal top off will not be reduced if you file for your own benefits at or after her full retirement age.
In order for her to receive a spousal benefit from your work record there is a trigger…you must file for your benefits. If you haven’t filed, she isn’t eligible to collect from your record. Once you file, she becomes eligible for a spousal benefit and her reduction for filing age is determined at her date of first eligibility. If she is full retirement age when you file (and she thus become eligible), there is no reduction.
Hope this helps!