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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 11743
Experience:  19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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I have questions regarding a Social Security "file and restrict"

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I have questions regarding a Social Security "file and restrict" application and dual benefit entitlement. Please excuse the length of this submission as I wanted to provided as complete a situation as possible.

Background: My wife started collecting her early S/S benefit at age 62. She turned 66 during the month of 07/2013. I had not been collecting benefits on my record and I turned 66 during the month of 09/2013. We are both fully retired. We used various tools and sources to assist in developing a strategy to maximize our S/S benefits. We selected the "file and restrict" strategy in which I filed, and then restricted my benefit, to allow it to grow pending a decision on my part to take it at a later date, and for me to file for spousal benefits on my wife's record effective 10/2013. After some issues during the visit at the local Lake Mary S/S office, on 09/06/2013, as to how to handle this application, a specialist was engaged, and in a follow up phone call it was confirmed that the applications were processed.
I was a high earner, and max out at full retirement age (66) with a $2533 monthly benefit projection. My wife's earnings were much less than mine. My wife's benefit at full retirement age, for my spousal benefit calculation is approx. $954. My spousal benefit payment, therefore would be approx. $477 a month.
Post 09/06/2013, I received several letters from S/S Admin, some with my SSN and an "A" suffix, and some with my wife's SSN with a "B1" suffix. I also received two new Medicare ID cards, one with my SSN, followed by an "A" suffix. Note: my Medicare ID previously was my SSN with a “T” suffix, since I Medicare eligible, but not collecting any S/S benefits and I was paying benefits via a monthly billing and check to CMS. I also received a Medicare ID card with my wife's SSN followed by a "B1" suffix. I had expected only one, with my wife's SSN and "B1" suffix since I was now collecting S/S benefits on her record. Each time I received a letter, I called S/S Admin to question the mailing. I was advised to discard the Medicare card with my SSN and "A" suffix.
On 10/17/2013 I received a phone call from a S/S Admin Claim Specialist in the Philadelphia office stating a "Dual Entitlement" conflict with my 09/06/2013 applications. I have the full name of the specialist, and we had a 30 minute conversation. She verbally confirmed the questions that I am asking you (in bold below). This conversation was followed by a letter from S/S Admin on 10/21/2013 stating the following: "Please fill out the enclosed SSA-521 to withdraw your Retirement claim so that the entitlement on your spouse's record may continue. Due to the Social Security Law, if your own retirement benefit is more than one half of the original benefit due on your spouse's record then dual entitlement cannot exist".
I've spoken with the local S/S office and the SSA 800 number agents, and they confirm that the initial application should not have been submitted and the reaffirmed the need for the SSA-521 submission. They also verbally confirmed that the benefit on my record would continue to grow, and that I could apply for it at a later date and it would not be impacted by the SSA-521 withdrawal. They also confirmed that my wife could also apply for spousal benefits on my record at a later date, and it would be based on my record at my full retirement age (66), minus the penalty applied based on her taking an early benefit on her record. I understand the penalty impact based on her taking an early benefit. Her monthly spousal benefit on my record, minus the penalty, should be about $1036.
Also note: I received by first spousal benefit check, based on my wife’s record on 10/23/2013. It was the amount expected, and my Medicare premium and requested additional taxes were deducted. While my question is NOT Medicare related, I wanted to provide as complete a picture of the total situation as possible.
My questions therefore are: Does all of the above appear correct and that the following will occur without financial impact:
• My wife will continue to collect her reduced SS benefit based on her record and her early filing date of age 62.
• I will continue to collect a spousal benefit based on my wife's record for approx. $477 a month.
Furthermore:
• At some later date, I will be able to file to stop receiving the spousal benefit on my wife's record, and file to start receiving the benefit based on my record (assuming at age 70, the benefit would be approx $3343, the affect of my full retirement age benefit of $2533 plus the 8% per year adder without factoring in any COLA). Note: amounts are taken from my Social Security Statement, SSA-7005 OL.
• Also, at that time, my wife would file to stop receiving the benefit on her record, and start receiving the spousal benefit on my record (approx. $1036 based on my record, and the penalty for my wife taking an early benefit on her record
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 10 months 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.

I have questions regarding a Social Security "file and restrict" application and dual benefit entitlement. Please excuse the length of this submission as I wanted to provided as complete a situation as possible. No problem!

Background: My wife started collecting her early S/S benefit at age 62. OK.

 

She turned 66 during the month of 07/2013. I had not been collecting benefits on my record and I turned 66 during the month of 09/2013. We are both fully retired. OK.

 

We used various tools and sources to assist in developing a strategy to maximize our S/S benefits. Good for you!

 

We selected the "file and restrict" strategy in which I filed, and then restricted my benefit, to allow it to grow pending a decision on my part to take it at a later date, and for me to file for spousal benefits on my wife's record effective 10/2013.

 

After some issues during the visit at the local Lake Mary S/S office, on 09/06/2013, as to how to handle this application, a specialist was engaged, and in a follow up phone call it was confirmed that the applications were processed. I understand it can be fraught with errors.


I was a high earner, and max out at full retirement age (66) with a $2533 monthly benefit projection. Super. And if you delay til 70, even better!

 

My wife's earnings were much less than mine. My wife's benefit at full retirement age, for my spousal benefit calculation is approx. $954. OK, so her PIA is 954. Her benefit received is likely in the $700s, right? Since she took it early.


As such, your spousal taken at 66+ would be 1/2 of that 954. You agree?

 

My spousal benefit payment, therefore would be approx. $477 a month. Yes, I agree.

 

Post 09/06/2013, I received several letters from S/S Admin, some with my SSN and an "A" suffix, and some with my wife's SSN with a "B1" suffix. I also received two new Medicare ID cards, one with my SSN, followed by an "A" suffix. Note: my Medicare ID previously was my SSN with a “T” suffix, since I Medicare eligible, but not collecting any S/S benefits and I was paying benefits via a monthly billing and check to CMS. I also received a Medicare ID card with my wife's SSN followed by a "B1" suffix. I had expected only one, with my wife's SSN and "B1" suffix since I was now collecting S/S benefits on her record. Each time I received a letter, I called S/S Admin to question the mailing. I was advised to discard the Medicare card with my SSN and "A" suffix. Medicare gets a little sticky with their little codes and such.


On 10/17/2013 I received a phone call from a S/S Admin Claim Specialist in the Philadelphia office stating a "Dual Entitlement" conflict with my 09/06/2013 applications. Hmm. Ah, sounds like you filed for your OWN, and suspended possibly, so that she could take her spousal (higher than her own), but then sought to take your 'restricted' spousal benefit yourself - is that what happened?


I have the full name of the specialist, and we had a 30 minute conversation. She verbally confirmed the questions that I am asking you (in bold below). This conversation was followed by a letter from S/S Admin on 10/21/2013 stating the following: "Please fill out the enclosed SSA-521 to withdraw your Retirement claim so that the entitlement on your spouse's record may continue.

 

Due to the Social Security Law, if your own retirement benefit is more than one half of the original benefit due on your spouse's record then dual entitlement cannot exist". Right, dual entitlement - you can't collect your spousal AND your own if your own is so high.


I've spoken with the local S/S office and the SSA 800 number agents, and they confirm that the initial application should not have been submitted and the reaffirmed the need for the SSA-521 submission. OK. I am confused. What did you file FOR? What was your intention in Sept/Oct?

 

They also verbally confirmed that the benefit on my record would continue to grow, and that I could apply for it at a later date and it would not be impacted by the SSA-521 withdrawal. Make sure to put their assurance conversation, the substance and who/what/why in writing in a confirming letter mailed certified r.r.r to SSA. Include the rrr # XXXXX the letter and retain copy for yourself.

They also confirmed that my wife could also apply for spousal benefits on my record at a later date, If you file and suspend, she can get spousal. While you are not taking yours and yours is growing.

 

and it would be based on my record at my full retirement age (66), Yes. minus the penalty applied based on her taking an early benefit on her record. Yes, if her benefit was docked, say, 250, that will never again be part of her benefit. Since a spousal is made up of hers then the difference between her spousal difference, the "her" part remains the $700, and the 1250 under yours and the 954 gross of hers, is about $300 - that $300 is her spousal addition to hers. Hers being reduced to $700, means $700 + 300 = $1000, or thereabouts.

 

I understand the penalty impact based on her taking an early benefit. Her monthly spousal benefit on my record, minus the penalty, should be about $1036. Sounds right.


Also note: I received by first spousal benefit check, based on my wife’s record on 10/23/2013. Then it was for Sept, since they pay a month late.

 

It was the amount expected, and my Medicare premium and requested additional taxes were deducted. While my question is NOT Medicare related, I wanted to provide as complete a picture of the total situation as possible. I understand.


My questions therefore are: Does all of the above appear correct and that the following will occur without financial impact:


• My wife will continue to collect her reduced SS benefit based on her record and her early filing date of age 62. Yes, if she has not applied for her spousal. For her to do that, you would have to "file and suspend" your benefit. Your houshold would get her spousal of $1036. But you'd get nothing. Or, you could file a 'restricted' application for only your spousal benefit of $477.


• I will continue to collect a spousal benefit based on my wife's record for approx. $477 a month. OK, gotcha, sounds like you have made it so you DO have a restricted application. Only spousal so yours can continue to grow via delayed retirement credits to age 70.


Furthermore:
• At some later date, I will be able to file to stop receiving the spousal benefit on my wife's record, and file to start receiving the benefit based on my record (assuming at age 70, the benefit would be approx $3343, the affect of my full retirement age benefit of $2533 plus the 8% per year adder without factoring in any COLA). YES!!

 


Note: amounts are taken from my Social Security Statement, SSA-7005 OL.


• Also, at that time, my wife would file to stop receiving the benefit on her record, and start receiving the spousal benefit on my record (approx. $1036 based on my record, and the penalty for my wife taking an early benefit on her record Yes.

 

So in sum, it sounds like you have made it so you are taking ONLY your spousal, via a restricted application available to you after FRA, at $477/mo.

 

She has opted to remain on her $700 per month, for a total of 1144+ per month bewteen the two of you, right? And when you hit 70, you will switch.


The result now seems clear, despite the confusion I have to some earlier statements, so let me know if they are moot!

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. Be sure to start future posts with "To Stephanie O. Joy., ONLY" if you want me to specifically answer it.

Sincerely, XXXXX XXXXX Joy, Esq.

Your online legal resource!

Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Stephanie, you addressed most of my questions and confirmed my expectations with regards XXXXX XXXXX SSA filing intent.


 


To clarify: We did not do anything with my wife's record, or her modify collecting her "early" PIA. That remains BAU. I think you picked up on this later in my note. And the amount you cited, ~$700, is in the ball park. As of 01/2013 it is now ~$719 with COLA adders. BTW...nice calculating our your part :-).


 


What I did was do (what I thought) was a "file and restrict" on my record to protect it and allow it to grow for taking at a future date. I wanted to collect only spousal benefits on my wife's record. I believe you fully understand that.


 


With all this said... what can I do to "force" the SSA to give me a written statement to confirm my understanding of the above, and that at a later date, I can stop taking my spousal benefit, and collect the PIA benefit on my record (with any Y-T-Y delay credit adders ), and my wife can stop taking the benefit on her record, and collect a spousal benefit (reduced, due to her taking her benefit prior to her FRA), on my record without any impact. As I mentioned, multiple SSA admin reps have told me this verbally but were not willing to put this in writing.


 


 

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 10 months ago.
Hi Tony,

Thank you for your follow oup:

Stephanie, you addressed most of my questions and confirmed my expectations with regards XXXXX XXXXX SSA filing intent.Very good.



To clarify: We did not do anything with my wife's record, or her modify collecting her "early" PIA. That remains BAU. I think you picked up on this later in my note. And the amount you cited, ~$700, is in the ball park. As of 01/2013 it is now ~$719 with COLA adders. BTW...nice calculating our your part :-). Lol, I only allow for ball park estimates, else I get myself in trouble (full disclaimer) and I am not interested in doing exact calculations :-)



What I did was do (what I thought) was a "file and restrict" on my record to protect it and allow it to grow for taking at a future date. Sounds a "restricted application" perhaps being the same thing: where a person that is over FRA, is allowed to choose JUST his spousal benefit (and need not be deemed to have applied for his own if greater, unlike when he is UNDER FRA). I think we are talking about the same thing.

 

I wanted to collect only spousal benefits on my wife's record. I believe you fully understand that. Yes, I think I determined that eventually. And likely a sound decision if it causes the total to exceed a file and suspend where she would take her spousal now, instead of her own.


-------

With all this said... what can I do to "force" the SSA to give me a written statement to confirm my understanding of the above, and that at a later date, I can stop taking my spousal benefit, and collect the PIA benefit on my record (with any Y-T-Y delay credit adders ), and my wife can stop taking the benefit on her record, and collect a spousal benefit (reduced, due to her taking her benefit prior to her FRA), on my record without any impact. As I mentioned, multiple SSA admin reps have told me this verbally but were not willing to put this in writing.


*******

You can't force the SSA - but you can request a written confirmation of WHAT benefits exactly you are receiving and your wife can likewise ask for the same. You'd want to request it in writing, and hope they respond in writing. But I wouldn't hold my breath! That is why I suggest YOU write the "confirming letter", mailed certified r.r.r. or UPS. Typically, when I need to do something like this, I include WHO I spoke with, the date of the conversation and the substance I need to confirm. I ask them to contact me in writing if any of my understanding is incorrect. Under the TO: XXXXX XXXXX SSA, I put "Mailed certified mail, r.r.r. # XXXXX"; if you know the SSA's fax number, you can also fax a copy to it, and make sure to have a print out confirmation that it appears to have made it there by fax (not quite carved in stone, but can help later if they dispute the facts. If they then received confirming letter, and failed to let you know you were incorrect, a judge may be more apt to rule in your favor).


Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 11743
Experience: 19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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