Life Changes the Social Security Administration Wants to Know About - dummies

Life Changes the Social Security Administration Wants to Know About

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You need to inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) when something happens that may have an impact on a payment going to you or to dependents who are getting benefits based on your earnings record. This may include income from work, changes in the makeup of your family, or more mundane housekeeping matters.

You’re supposed to tell the SSA about various changes involving your family, including the following:

  • Death: If a loved one who received Social Security benefits dies, you should make sure that the SSA is informed as soon as possible. A grieving relative doesn’t have to make the call, but someone does. In most cases, a funeral director will tell the SSA. This information is critical not only to stop future payments but also because dependents of the deceased may qualify for benefits or payment increases.

  • Marriage or divorce: Changes in marital status can potentially affect benefits, such as for widows, widowers, and divorced spouses younger than 60. Although divorce alone doesn’t terminate benefits based on a former spouse’s earnings record, you still must report the divorce to the SSA.

  • The birth, adoption, or move of a child: If you’re receiving Social Security benefits and you have a child, the child also may qualify. If someone else adopts a child who has received benefits, the benefits to the child may continue, but the SSA has to know about it.

    If you get spousal or widow/widower’s benefits based on caring for a dependent child and the child relocates for more than a month, you have to tell the SSA. Failure to report the move may cost you a month’s benefit or more.

You’re also supposed to tell the SSA about the following, all of which have the potential to affect your benefits and your ability to receive them:

  • If you change your name

  • If you move or if you change banks for benefits that are directly deposited into a checking or other bank account

  • If you earn more money than you expected, or expect to earn more money than you originally thought

    For retirement and certain other benefits, earnings from work above a certain amount may trigger withholding of part of the Social Security benefit. As soon as you expect to earn more than you told the SSA you planned to earn, you should inform the SSA of the change. Don’t wait, or you risk an overpayment charge.

  • If you get non–Social Security payments for disability

    If you’re already getting Social Security disability benefits, you must tell the SSA if you apply for a different (non–Social Security) disability benefit, receive workers’ compensation, or get a settlement. Such payments potentially affect Social Security benefit amounts for you and your family.

  • If your citizenship status changes

    A change in status may affect the type of Social Security card you qualify for. To get a card, noncitizens usually must show that they’re authorized to work by the Department of Homeland Security.

  • If you work outside the United States and are younger than full retirement age

    This includes part-time work and self-employment. If you get early retirement benefits and work more than 45 hours outside the United States in a job that doesn’t pay Social Security taxes, benefits may be withheld.

  • If you receive pension benefits from work you did that was not covered by Social Security, including a government job

  • If you receive Railroad Retirement benefits

    This applies to you if you get both Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits based on your spouse’s working record and your spouse dies. After that happens, you’ll end up with one of the benefits — the SSA will decide which one.