THOUSANDS of Americans are owed $4,133 after the Social Security Administration (SSA) did not properly provide benefits to some students.
Around 14,470 Social Security beneficiaries were underpaid by about $59.5million, according to a recent report from the Social Security office of the Inspector General.
Each student was unable to collect roughly $4,113 in benefits.
The audit found that the underpayments were a result of SSA employees incorrectly inputting student information on beneficiaries’ records while using the Post Entitlement Online System and Modernized Claims System.
The SSA has agreed to recommendations made by the Inspector General, which will ensure those who are eligible for payments will receive them, as well as improve controls.
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How to maximize benefits, continued
The maximum wage taxable is $147,000 in 2022, but it changes each year as salaries increase.
Once your earnings exceed that wage cap, you don’t get taxed on it for Social Security.
The third but perhaps the easiest way to boost your benefits is to delay your claim.
How to maximize benefits
Firstly, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve worked for at least 35 years.
If not, zeros will be averaged into your calculation for each year you’re missing income under the 35-year threshold.
You must also earn the maximum wage taxable or more for at least 35 years.
How remarriage affects SSI
If you are getting remarried, your SSI payment amount may change as a result of your new spouse’s income and resources.
If you and your new spouse both get SSI, your payment amount will change from an individual rate to a couple’s rate.
To determine the SSI benefit amount a couple is eligible to receive, their combined countable income is deducted from the federal benefit rate.
The result is then divided equally and paid to the couple in separate checks.
How remarriage affects survivor benefits
If you decide to remarry before turning the age of 60, you will lose eligibility for survivor benefits on the prior marriage.
So, if your survivor benefits are part of your main income source, this is something that you might want to take into consideration.
Remarrying after turning 60 years old has no effect on survivor benefits.
If you simply got divorced and later decide to remarry, the benefits paid to you from your prior spouse’s account stop.
Do Social Security claimants need to pay taxes?
In January of each year, you’ll be notified of how much you received in benefits during the previous year.
This Social Security benefits statement is a form SSA-1099 and can be used to help you complete your tax return.
By using this form, you’ll find out if your monthly benefits are subject to tax.
If by February you’ve not received this form, or if you’ve misplaced it, you can request a new one using your online Social Security account.
What is the Social Security tax rate?
The tax rate for 2022 earnings sits at 6.2 percent each for employees and employers.
So individuals earning $147,000 or more in 2022 would contribute $9,114 to the OASDI program, and their employer would contribute the same amount, according to the Social Security Administration.
For those who are self-employed, the OASDI tax rate is 12.4 percent.
How Social Security is funded, continued
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses your taxes to pay people who are getting benefits right now.
Any unused money goes to the Social Security trust fund, which pays monthly benefits to you and your family when you start receiving retirement benefits.
How Social Security is funded
Social Security helps retired workers but it also pays benefits to widows, widowers, and children – benefiting more than 64million people in total.
When you work, you pay into Social Security. The money you pay in taxes isn’t held in a personal account for you to use when you get benefits.
How redetermination may affect benefits, continued
If these conditions improved, then your benefit amount will most likely decrease.
Along with reducing your payment going forward, the SSA could also seek repayments if it finds that you’ve been getting more than you were entitled to.
Redetermination could also revoke your eligibility for the benefits outright.
How redetermination may affect benefits
If you had no changes in your finances or living situation, your benefit will not change.
On the other hand, if these things did change, then so will your benefit amount.
If these conditions worsened, you will most likely get an increase in benefits.
Redetermination notice types
For a telephonic redetermination, the SSA will send the beneficiary a letter designating the time and date to expect a call.
If you are asked to do an in-person interview, you will be requested to appear at your local Social Security office for a redetermination meeting.
Your redetermination may also be conducted by mail.
Once you have received one of these notices, you will have 30 days to respond.
Failing to reply on time could result in your benefits being stopped.
What is redetermination?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) conducts redetermination about every one to six years.
Redetermination is conducted in three different ways: telephone, mail, or in-person.
During redetermination, the SSA will review your income, resources, and living arrangements to be sure you are still eligible for SSI and to ensure you are getting the correct monetary support.
If you are married or you are a disabled child under age 18 living with your parents, the SSA will also review the income, resources and living arrangements of your spouse or parents.
Can you qualify for SSI if you already get Social Security benefits?
Even if you currently get Social Security disability insurance or retirement benefits, you may be eligible for SSI monthly payments.
How many people receive SSI?
According to the Social Security Administration, about 7.8million people in the United States received SSI payments in July 2021.
The majority, 4.4million people aged eighteen to sixty-four, were seniors, 2.3million were children and teenagers, and 1.1million were children and teens.
Each of these groups’ average monthly benefits differed significantly.
When were SSI payments established?
Supplemental Security Income payments began in January 1974.
In the 50 states and the District of Columbia, SSI superseded the previous federal-state adult assistance programs.
Each person who qualifies for SSI receives a monthly cash payment based on a statutory federal benefit rate.
Since 1975, these rates have risen by the same amount as OASDI benefit cost-of-living adjustments.
How COLA struggles to keep pace
According to the Senior Citizens League, healthcare costs and housing costs have gotten 145 percent and 118 percent more expensive, while COLAs have increased Social Security checks by just 55 percent since 2000.
Social Security claimants have lost 32 percent of their purchasing power, according to a study by the non-partisan group.
But things could get worse next year, according to Seniors Citizens League analyst Mary Johnson.
She said: “It appears that inflation is not done with us yet, and the buying power of Social Security benefits may continue to erode into 2022.”
SSI benefits for children with disabilities
According to the Clinton Journal, to be deemed medically qualified for SSI, a child must fulfill all of the following disability requirements:
- In 2022, if the kid is not blind, he or she must not be working or earning more than $1,350 per month. In 2022, if the child is blind, they must not work or earn more than $2,260.
- The child must have a medical condition or conditions that cause significant functional difficulties. This indicates that the condition(s) must severely limit the activities of the youngster.
- The condition(s) of the kid must last at least a year or be predicted to cause death.
When should you claim Social Security?
You can start claiming at age 62, but this would result in a permanent 30 percent reduction of your benefits.
If your full retirement age is 66, you’ll get 100 percent of your monthly benefit if you start claiming then.
Or if you delay benefits for an additional 12 months, you’ll receive 108 percent while you’ll get 132 percent of the monthly benefit if you wait until 70.
Why does COLA increase?
COLA adjusts for inflation, which has surged 5.4 percent since September due to high consumer demand.
The change in inflation means retired workers can expect to see a boost of $92 on average, bringing their monthly benefit from $1,565 to $1,657.
Furthermore, the maximum Social Security benefit in 2022 will be $4,194.
And the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase from $142,800 to $147,000.
Some states offer more SSI payments
Some states contribute to the total amount payable to SSI recipients.
That means depending on the state you live in, you may receive a supplemental payment in addition to SSI from the federal government.
The SSI Benefits website shows which states pay a supplement to people who receive SSI.