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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 11750
Experience:  19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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I started receiving benefits in Jan 2012, I turned 66 in Oct

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I started receiving benefits in Jan 2012, I turned 66 in Oct 2012. I am still working and my net income for 2012 was $68K from Jan to Oct. I contacted Social Security by phone several time in Dec 2012 and Jan 2012 wanted to give back my SS income and start over. I was told to get an appt which I did on Feb 12, 2013 at which time I filled out the from to give it back. I received one letter stating that they got my request and that was it on that subject. In the last few months I received letters asking what my income was in 2012 which I responded to, also sending an addtional letter stating that I wanted to give back my 2012 SS monies and start over. Now I have a letter asking me to repay $9800 because I made too much money in 2012. I have no problem paying them back, but this is not my goal, I want to start over at my full retirement age of 66. Can you help?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.
Hi, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I thank you for your inquiry. I have been practicing SS law full time for 10+ years and look forward to assisting you.

Can you clarify HOW much your benefit amount was for each month from Jan.2012 to the present?

Also, can you let me know what transpired in your Dec. 2012 call when you discussed reversing your application and returning the moneys paid?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My benefit is $1373 after the Medicare payment. When I called SS, the person I spoke didn't know what I was talking about. So I kept calling till someone said I needed to make an appointment, which I didn't get till Feb12, 2013. She gave me a form to fill out, which I did right there and dropped it in there mail slot.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.
OK, so I presume the benefit is about $1473 before medicare. With regard to your post:

I started receiving benefits in Jan 2012, I turned 66 in Oct 2012. OK, so bit of a "discounted" amount.

 

I am still working and my net income for 2012 was $68K from Jan to Oct. OK, that year you should be able to earn up to $40,080 without impact, and thereafter, owe $1 back in benefits for every $3 earned. You earned an additional $28000, approximately. Divided by 3 = likely that $9800 you mention. However, you collected $1473*12= $14,730 or thereabouts, so $9800 is owed back, leaing about $5000 collected early, or about 3 or 3 1/2 months of early retirement.



I contacted Social Security by phone several time in Dec 2012 and Jan 2012 wanted to give back my SS income and start over. I was told to get an appt which I did on Feb 12, 2013 at which time I filled out the from to give it back. I received one letter stating that they got my request and that was it on that subject. What do you mean, "it was on that subject" - meaning, they were working on it?

 

In the last few months I received letters asking what my income was in 2012 which I responded to, OK.

 

also sending an addtional letter stating that I wanted to give back my 2012 SS monies and start over. This has to be requested withint 12 months of starting. So if you started in Jan. 2012, you'd want to have requested by Jan. 2012. This is why it may become important that you can PROVE you asked to do this in Dec., or on a date in Jan. prior to the 1 year mark of taking early retirement. The SSA person MAY have recorded your file, if you'd actually gotten so far in the conversation that they accessed your file and recorded your contact. Don't count on that though. Consider getting your phone details records that show your outgoing phone calls and those phone numbers, and when and how long - that will prove you called the SSA on Dec. XX, 2012 and spoke to someone about something for X minutes. A decision maker may find that is enough evidence that you are telling the truth about asking for it "in time", before the 1 year mark, even though the appointment couldn't take place til Feb - a protective filing date, of sorts. This may be particularly so if the SSA has no record of your call in your file - clearly you prove you called, and not just a hang up, so it will show they failed to document the call at all.

 

Now I have a letter asking me to repay $9800 because I made too much money in 2012. Yes, you must do that - since you were not actually fully retired when you started collecting 'retirement'. Note, however, as figured above, by paying back, you are essentially reversing the "early" taking of most of those months, leaving perhaps only 3 1/2 months of discounted penalty. THis is only a couple of % points in reduction, may not be enough for you to worry about.

 

I have no problem paying them back, but this is not my goal, I want to start over at my full retirement age of 66. Can you help? See above. If you can prove you didn't miss the deadine, you should be able to withdraw that application by paying it back.

 

Now, let's say you can't prove it. If increasing your benefit amount is your goal, know that for every YEAR beyond 66, up until 70, you delay collected, you can increase your benefit amount by 8%. So, if you decide to not collect until age 70, thus earnings "delayed retirement credits", you will be able to increase that take by abut 32%. Your $1500 or so per month could become $2000/month, if you wait to 70 to take it. That will more than make up the 3 1/2 months of discounted IF you are unable to prove you filed to withdraw your application and pay back benefits. Even 1 year of not collected, waiting til 67, should more than cover any discount. You see what I am saying?

 

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions.

Sincerely,

Alexia Esq.

 


My benefit is $1373 after the Medicare payment. When I called SS, the person I spoke didn't know what I was talking about. So I kept calling till someone said I needed to make an appointment, which I didn't get till Feb12, 2013. She gave me a form to fill out, which I did right there and dropped it in there mail slot.



Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I have a paper from SS dated Jan 7 telling me my appointment is Feb 12, is that enough? I didn't get my first check till Feb 14th 2012.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.
Hi again! What date did you apply for your early retirement benefits back in January 2012?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I applied for benefits sometime in 2011, I think in either Oct or Nov. My original plan was to wait till I was 66, but when they ran the numbers, it would have taken me about 10 years to recoup the money I would have missed. I am in real estate, and in 2011 I hardly made any money, I didn't know that the market would rebound like it did and I would make that much money.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.
Ouch, OK, if you applied in Nov, 2011, and you didn't get a check until Feb., 2012, did that include back benefits back to Nov 2011?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

No, I applied to begin in January 2012 because that was the year I turned 66, no back payments.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

"if you change your mind 12 months or more after you became entitled to retirement benefits, you cannot withdraw your application." http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/withdrawal.htm

Thus, we need to look at the date your became "entitled" to retirement benefits (which is NOT the same thing as "eligible". To be entitled, one must Apply.

Our Code of Federal Regulations defines "entitled" as:
"Entitled means that a person has applied and has proven his or her right to benefits for a period of time."

You applied for the period of time starting Jan. 2012. That would mean that you became 'entitled AT LEAST by the time you got them (Feb.) but possibly earlier, if you "proved" your right to those benefits. I am thinking a letter from SSA saying you are approved would constitute a date of "proven-ness", so to speak. Do you have that letter? That may be your "entitlement" date, from which you'd want to have your proof of seeking a withdrawal of your application within 12 months. January 7, would appear to be AT LEAST the date, if not earlier if you could prove you contacted them earlier with that request.

But in any event, it would appear that if you can't prove that 12 month requirement, you can certainly pay back the $9800, bringing you to almost the same amount as if you never applied early, AND you can increase that amount by earning "delayed retirement benefits" going forward, but "suspending" future payments for a period of time. Either way, you look like you will be pretty good. Do you agree? Whichever avenue you choose or can prove.

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions.

Sincerely,

Alexia Esq.

Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 11750
Experience: 19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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