John Bullis: Some Social Security benefits can be overlooked
One of our fairly new clients had a pleasant surprise recently. We finally got more information on her life and situation. It turns out since she is over age 66 and had been married a long time ago to a man that worked for wages that were subject to Social Security tax. She was divorced years ago but had been married for more than 10 years.
We suggested she apply for Social Security benefits. She said, “But I did not work that much, probably only five years. I was busy raising children and I did not think I was eligible to receive Social Security benefits …”
We explained how she could apply for the benefits since she was married more than 10 years, based on the ex-husband’s earning record.
She said, “But will that reduce what he is getting from Social Security?” We explained, “No, his benefit payments will not be reduced in any way.”
So she searched her old records and found the original marriage certificate and the pile of papers regarding the divorce. She did not find anything that showed his Social Security number, but with his full name and date of birth, Social Security Administration was able to look up his number and his earning record.
I called the Reno office of Social Security and got an appointment for her to apply for her benefits.
Since she is not comfortable driving in Reno, I went with her. The office on Harvard Way was fairly easy to find, but the parking lot was almost full.
There were maybe 25 people waiting in the chairs and a line out the door into the parking lot for others to meet with a representative. Since we had an appointment, they paged her and we went right in at the appointed time.
The representative, Tom, was pleasant and efficient. He quickly went through the information and announced, “You will get $6,810 in retroactive benefits for the prior six months (the maximum allowed) and you will get $1,133 a month from now on, directly deposited into your checking account.”
She is very grateful and will make good use of the money.
If you know of someone that might benefit from applying to Social Security, please encourage them to do so right away.
Did you hear one of our family stories? “If Moses had not made a noise in the bulrushes, where would he be?” It is sometimes good to make a “noise” and see what the answer to your question might be.
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 Company CPAs.