Author Topic: Social Security Drama  (Read 1854 times)

Farmgirl

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Social Security Drama
« on: November 10, 2020, 08:20:47 AM »
The backstory:  Husband is 67 and started Medicare in October 2018, paying a quarterly premium, as he didn't retire.  I just turned 62 in September.  Because husband is the last of those who can "File & Restrict", together we did a phone application in June with husband collecting spousal benefits on my account and me collecting a 62 year old benefit.  They requested a marriage license, so we ordered certified copies from the county, sent it to them, and they returned it saying they had scanned them.

In July, we both receive letters saying what our benefit would be in October.  So far, everything fine.

So we dutifully paid the Medicare premiums on my husband, paying the last one for July, August, September.  Then we get a check in the mail late Sepember for $433 (one quarter's payment of Medicare) with no paperwork included with the check.  Just a notation that says "Soc Sec for Ins".

Then on October 6, husband receives a letter saying he will get NO retirement benefits until Feb 2021, because they want to collect "back medical insurance".  So we go out to husband's My Social Security account, and it says he was overpaid $6K.  Keep in mind he hasn't gotten a dime from Social Security.

We call SS and they don't know.  The lady said "the information on My Social Security isn't always right, and it's messed up because he is filing spousal benefits.  Said to file an appeal.  So one half inch of paper later to prove we paid all of the Medicare premiums, we filed the appeal on October 7 with our local office like they said.  We also called the Medicare side of things, they said that the account looked fine and was not in arrears.

Last night we called SS again.  They don't know.  Give it one or two weeks and call the local office.  The lady sent emails to two different departments last night.  So today, I got my first SS payment direct deposited, and husband got nothing, except the My Social Security account says he only has been overpaid $5K now ($6K minus his first benefit of $1K).

This was all supposed to be so easy.  Anyone else have similar drama?  All suggestions welcome.

dandarc

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Re: Social Security Drama
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2020, 08:38:40 AM »
My parents have an adoption in the works (long story). Dad is already collecting, Mom will start once the paperwork is final, and that has been delayed because of the pandemic. The social security person they are working with seems to have it all together, but it is certainly an unusual situation.

Good luck - I think once they get the paperwork straight your husband will get a large payment correcting the error.

Laura33

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Re: Social Security Drama
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2020, 09:36:51 AM »
OMG don't even get me started on my mom's claim when my stepdad died.  He had worked for the federal government and had a pension through them, but had also elected to pay SS as well (and had paid SS while working outside the government), and he fell within a specific window that allowed him to collect both.  He died very suddenly, she filed for SS, and they started sending her checks.  Several months later, she received a notice that she had been overpaid, and they were withholding her payments until she was back to even -- so starting with the next check, she was going to receive ZERO SS.  And no indication why.

She called, she set up in-person appointments, and absolutely no one could explain to her what was going on -- even the inference that it related to his pension was just our guess, because they didn't even say that.  When she went in person (multiple times), the guys would tell her that yep, everything she had produced made total sense, but the account was blocked because something was under review in Philly; when she called Philly, I think that's when they finally said it had to do with the pension, but the people she talked with there said everything looked fine.  She filed an appeal and submitted her paperwork and kept calling, and eventually they conceded that she was right. 

We were lucky that she didn't actually need the SS payments, and that I'm a lawyer and could at least follow the process and make sure she dotted her i's and crossed her t's.  But imagine if that's what you were counting on to cover your bills!  There is an emergency process where you can go in and stay the withholding until you get through the appeal, but how many poor seniors are going to understand that and have the resources and executive function to make it through that kind of a process?  I'm still angry about the complete lack of any due process -- just arbitrarily tell someone that you're fucking with their benefits, starting immediately, without any obvious recourse or explanation? 

If I were in charge, I'd be putting a LOT of resources into making sure SS works appropriately and fairly -- including plain-English explanation of issues, notification of problems that are discovered, and a hearing process before the Agency just arbitrarily yanks your benefits.  That's bullshit -- and it's bullshit directed at many of our most vulnerable citizens. 

The one good thing I will say is that each individual employee my mom talked to or met with was very nice, very considerate, very empathetic, and very professional.  They wanted to help her -- they just couldn't, because The System. 

Rosy

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Re: Social Security Drama
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2020, 10:10:35 AM »
Quote
They wanted to help her -- they just couldn't, because The System.
Yup, that is the scary part. Just imagine being old and sick and with no one to handle things for ya.

I got extremely lucky, one phone call, one visit with someone who really knew their sh$t and four weeks later - voila, payments.
This despite me having several slightly unusual circumstances for which I came prepared for with all paperwork.
Nevertheless, I thank my lucky stars and most of all the lady that made it all happen within one hour, despite three interruptions from her supervisor to move things along.

I know the answer is perseverance, but we all know it's tough and can be devastating depending on your circumstances.

Interesting to know what Laura said about an emergency process - but really, who even knows about that?

Tempname23

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Re: Social Security Drama
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2020, 07:22:56 AM »
The backstory:  Husband is 67 and started Medicare in October 2018, paying a quarterly premium, as he didn't retire.  I just turned 62 in September.  Because husband is the last of those who can "File & Restrict", together we did a phone application in June with husband collecting spousal benefits on my account and me collecting a 62 year old benefit. 
I probably don't understand what you are trying to accomplish, but I thought the File and Suspend strategy was no longer available. I have searched several sites and all I can find is that it's no longer available.
"The "file and suspend" strategy, also referred to as "voluntary suspension," or "claim and suspend," was an option available to Social Security beneficiaries until April 29, 2016. The key advantage afforded by the file and suspend strategy was to increase the Social Security claiming options for many married couples by allowing them to take advantage of spousal benefits and "delayed retirement credits" simultaneously. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, passed by Congress and signed by the President in October, 2015, ended the possibility of claiming spousal benefits on a suspended benefit for suspension requests made after April 29, 2016"
https://www.socialsecuritychoices.com/info/fileandsuspend.php

dandarc

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dandarc

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Re: Social Security Drama
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2020, 09:33:53 AM »
Although even that might not be applicable - the example has both spouses at or over full retirement age.

OP says she has filed at 62, and her husband, who is over full retirement age at 67 is the one claiming spousal benefits. And husband was born in 1953 or earlier, so this option hasn't been taken away from him. Unclear whether it matters if the spouse who has already filed needs to be at or over retirement age, but I'd expect not as it seems SSA has told OP as much.

My parents are doing the same thing, although they were both born in 1952, so they both fit the example. The triggering event for mom to collect on her own record will not be "Mom is now 70", but "adoption of niece and nephew is finalized".

Tempname23

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Re: Social Security Drama
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2020, 09:53:18 AM »
@Tempname23  - https://www.socialsecuritychoices.com/info/freespousal.php
Oh good, looks like they just made it in.
                         Thanks

Laura33

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Re: Social Security Drama
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2020, 09:57:56 AM »
@Tempname23  - https://www.socialsecuritychoices.com/info/freespousal.php
Oh good, looks like they just made it in.
                         Thanks

IME this is the fundamental source of the problem:  the system is set up to handle the "normal" situation remarkably well, given the number of people it serves.  But if you seem to fall into one of the prohibited categories, it has a default "kick you out" response, and there is just no easy or even identifiable process to demonstrate how you are one of the few who falls into the exemption. 

dandarc

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Re: Social Security Drama
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2020, 10:09:09 AM »
@Tempname23  - https://www.socialsecuritychoices.com/info/freespousal.php
Oh good, looks like they just made it in.
                         Thanks

IME this is the fundamental source of the problem:  the system is set up to handle the "normal" situation remarkably well, given the number of people it serves.  But if you seem to fall into one of the prohibited categories, it has a default "kick you out" response, and there is just no easy or even identifiable process to demonstrate how you are one of the few who falls into the exemption.
Always fun when the powers that be say "make it so X cannot ever happen no matter what". So you make the computers do exactly that. And then months or even years later "We have someone in scenario 1024 that means we actually need to do X for this person - why won't the system let us do that!?".