John Bullis: Here are questions, answers about Social Security
Q: My parents are receiving Social Security payments. Should I be worried that their monthly checks will be cut and that I will have to make up the difference?
A: No, there are no plans to reduce benefits for current retirees. Even without any changes, current benefits are expected to be fully payable until about 2033.
Q: I’ll be retiring in the next five to 10 years. Can I expect my currently scheduled benefits to be paid to me at retirement?
A: Without any changes, it is expected that the program will no longer be able to pay benefits in full starting in about 2033 or so. It looks like 75 percent of benefits is likely to be paid then, because workers will continue to contribute.
Q: Should I count on Social Security for all my retirement income?
A: No. Social Security was never meant to be the sole source of income in retirement. You should be saving for your retirement on a personal basis and through employer-sponsored or other retirement plans.
Q: Does Social Security have dedicated assets invested for my retirement?
A: Social Security is largely a pay-as-you-go system with today’s taxpayers paying for the benefits of today’s retirees. Money not needed to pay today’s benefits is invested in special-issue U.S. Treasury bonds.
Q: What are the options for modernization and reform?
A: Four basic options are being discussed: (1) increasing payroll taxes, (2) reducing benefits, (3) using other financing sources such as general revenues or (4) prefunding future benefits with personal savings accounts or direct investments of the trust funds.
Q: Am I entitled to widow’s or widower’s benefits if I remarry?
A: Remarriage after age 60 (or 50 if you are disabled) does not prevent you from getting benefit payments based on your former spouse’s work record. Generally you will not receive widow’s or widower’s benefits if you remarry before age 60. At 62 or older, you may get benefits based on your new spouse’s work, if those benefits would be higher.
The Social Security website is socialsecurity.gov, and it has lots of information. You can call the office at 1-800-772-1213. The only bad question is the one not asked.
Did you hear? “Living in the past is lots of fun. Besides, it is cheaper.”
John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Co. CPAs.