Lost Social Security Card? Here’s What You Need to Know

It’s just one little blue, fragile piece of paper — but a lost Social Security card can add up to a lot of trouble. If you your card is missing, you need to act now.

Your card lists out both your full name and Social Security number, and with these two pieces of information a thief can easily wreak havoc on your finances.

A lost Social Security card is all someone needs to open accounts, file fraudulent tax returns, get healthcare under your name, and a whole lot more. Needless to say, you should keep your card in a safe place (in other words, not your wallet) to prevent accidental loss or theft.

But we all know things happen, even with the best safeguards in place. If your card does go missing, here’s what you need to do.

Continue Reading »

The Best Explanation of Medicare Coverage and What it Costs

Understanding Medicare is an important part of your overall retirement planning, but it’s so confusing and complicated! But I’m here to help you understand Medicare and how it will impact your retirement plans. There’s a lot of information here, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable.

medicare basics

What Is Medicare?

Medicare is the government-run health program for older or disabled individuals. There are several parts to Medicare, and each part covers different things. The four main parts are:

Continue Reading »

Video: SS Family Benefit Maximum–Simplified!

Did you know that there are Social Security benefits available to your eligible family members if you die, become disabled, or retire? There are some limitations though. Generally speaking, no more than 150% – 175% of your full retirement age benefit can be paid out.

Check out this video for more information.

This video walks you through the individual steps to calculate your Social Security family benefit maximum. The numbers in the formula change on an annual basis so please note that this video is made with 2018 numbers. You can find the formula for the current family benefit maximum calculation at this link.


Continue Reading »

2018: Key Changes to Social Security

Here are the most important Social Security changes for 2018. This is not all that’s changing, just what I think is most important.

Maximum Taxable Earnings

6.2% of your paycheck goes to Social Security tax (unless you’re self employed and then it’s 12.4%). However, there is a maximum amount of income that you pay this tax on. In 2017 this cap was $127,200. In 2018 the cap increases to $128,400.

Quarter of Coverage

Most of the Social Security programs require 40 ‘credits’ to qualify for benefits. So what does it take to get a ‘credit?’ It changes every year but for 2018 it will be $1,320. This is up from the $1,300 in 2017.

Earnings Limit

The amount you can earn before the SSA starts to withhold your benefits has increased from $16,920 to $17,040. Keep in mind that this only applies to benefits paid prior to full retirement age.

Cost of Living Adjustment

In most years the Social Security Administration increases benefits to keep up with inflation. It doesn’t always happen though. In fact, in the past 10 years there have been 3 years with a 0% increase. However, in 2018 benefits will increase by 2%.


How Your Filing Age Changes the Effective WEP Penalty

The effective reduction to your Social Security benefits from the Windfall Elimination Provision changes based on your filing age. This is despite the well publicized ‘Maximum WEP penalty of $448 (for 2018).’

Check out this video where we walk step by step through the calculation process.

Summary of video:

In this video we discuss how the WEP penalty is subtracted from your benefit amount before reductions or increases for your filing age. This changes the effective penalty to an amount that is larger, or smaller, than the well-published $448 (for 2018). Simply put, the effective penalty is the amount of reduction or increase that an individual who is subject to the WEP would receive vs. an individual who is not subject to the WEP.

Continue Reading »

Video: 2018 Social Security Income Limits


the 2018 social security earnings limit

The 2018 Social Security income limits have been announced.

It is important to understand these numbers and how your benefit may be affected if you are under full retirement age.


In this video we discuss:

  • The new 2018 Social Security income limit
  • The monthly income limit in the first year of retirement
  • Special rules called “substantial services” for self employed individuals

Continue Reading »

Subject to the WEP? Your Social Security Statement Is Probably Wrong!

Here's How To Calculate Your REAL Social Security Benefit

Social Security retirement benefits often make up a large portion of an individual’s retirement income. Throughout your lifetime, you can keep an eye on your projected retirement benefits on your annual Social Security statement or by looking at your online mySocialSecurity account (mySSA). It’s a great tool for making educated retirement planning decisions.

But what if your Social Security benefit’s estimate is incorrect by several hundred dollars per month? For some people, it is wrong. Even worse, they probably don’t know it is wrong.  What an awful retirement surprise!


Continue Reading »

Online Social Security Calculator: Your Step-By-Step Guide

online social security calculator


If you’re looking for an online Social Security calculator, you’ll find plenty of options. For example, the Social Security website has 11 different options for calculating your benefit! Additionally, there are plenty of private companies who’ll gladly take your money for their version of a SS calculator. Most of us don’t need all of those options. In most cases, there’s only one Social Security calculator you need to figure out your benefit.

online ss calculator

Continue Reading »