March 20, 2020
Social Security FAQ Based On COVID-19 Updates
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, on May 17, 2020, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that it would be temporarily suspending in-person visits to the SSA field offices. There are over 1,200 offices across the country and their decision to temporarily close offices affects thousands of Americans every day. In-person services include checking the statuses of applications, benefit claims, and more. As a result, you may have questions about how this closure will affect you and your Social Security benefits. To help answer your questions, we’ve compiled a list of the top questions we’ve received and answered them for you:
1. Will I still receive my check this month?
Yes! The SSA has confirmed that Social Security payments will continue to be paid to retirees. And if you are like most retirees, your Social Security is sent via direct deposit. If you don’t have a bank account or didn’t sign up for direct deposit, your benefits will be paid via a Direct Express debit card.
2. If I applied for retirement benefits to begin on May 1st, can I cancel it if I get a job before then?
There are two scenarios where you can “cancel” your Social Security benefits:
- First, you can withdraw your claim if you started receiving benefits less than 12 months ago.
- Second, if you have reached your full retirement age (66 or 67), but are not yet 70 years old, you can suspend payments. If you suspend your benefits, a spouse, for example, can not receive benefits on your record. In the case that you withdraw or suspend your benefits, you will need to repay any benefits you (or your family) may have received.
3. Is there any danger of payments being stopped?
No. Both President Trump and the Social Security Commissioner have stated publicly that they do not intend to stop or reduce Social Security payments.
4. Should I elect Social Security early to receive more income and have more cushion on my expenses?
It depends on your situation, but if possible, we recommend delaying electing Social Security.
Once you reach full retirement age of 66 or 67, you receive 100% of the Social Security benefits that you have earned. Every year you delay beyond full retirement age (up to age 70), your benefit increases by 8%. If you elect Social Security early, before full retirement age, the amount of benefit you receive over your lifetime is reduced. Therefore, it is recommended that you delay electing your Social Security, if possible.
5. Would a part-time job like online tutoring or being a virtual assistant hurt my Social Security benefits?
Working part-time is a great way to continue to add to your retirement savings. Due to COVID-19, an increasing number of companies are transitioning to working from home and hiring remote workers. If you work part-time in retirement while collecting Social Security, make sure you know about, and understand, the Retirement Earnings Test.
The earning limit for those who have elected to take Social Security early is $18,240 for 2020. If you earn more than this, $1 dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $2 in earnings above the limit. However, you will get the withheld money back later.
6. What if I had an in-person meeting booked at a SSA office?
If you had a meeting scheduled at a SSA office, make sure you’re checking your phone because the SSA has stated that they will contact you by phone for an appointment or to reschedule. However, be careful and avoid scams because there may be people trying to take advantage of this situation. For example, SSA employees will never threaten you or ask for immediate payment.
Additionally, the number the SSA will call from may be from a PRIVATE number, and to learn even more about whether the call you’re receiving is from the SSA, read the information provided here.
7. Does the SSA have online resources?
One of the best ways to conduct services that relate to Social Security is through their website: www.ssa.gov/onlineservices. Their website has a variety of resources that can help you apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits, check the status of your application or appeal, replace your Social Security or Medicare card, set-up or change your direct deposit, and more.
If you had questions about how the closure of the SSA offices would affect you and your benefits, we hope this FAQ answered your questions and directed you to relevant resources.