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SS Wants Me to Change My Spousal Election
Old 04-25-2019, 07:44 AM   #1
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SS Wants Me to Change My Spousal Election

With the currently active thread Clear Article About When To Take Social Security going strong, I thought I'd keep this separate.

I am one of the lucky ones who can delay filing until age 70 to file while receiving spousal benefits on DW's earnings. I received a letter this week from the SSA regarding my benefits. The letter starts out by saying "You get monthly benefits as a spouse. If you apply for retirement benefits on your own social security number, our records show that you may get higher benefits."

Then in big, bold, official looking letters "What You Need To Do You must apply before we can pay you the higher benefit...." and it goes on. It does not clearly say this is optional.

Could it be that the SSA realizes my greater overall benefits and wants to trick me into changing my application to reduce their costs?

I wonder how many really fall for this type of ploy? Not me. And I suspect that none of us here would either. I'm pretty sure that some will think they must follow what they "Need To Do."
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:50 AM   #2
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I doubt this is a "trick" by the folks who administer SS. Reality says the vast majority of folks receiving SS need every penny they can get their hands on and this is simply a way of informing them they can increase their benefit now.
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:52 AM   #3
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I doubt this is a "trick" by the folks who administer SS. Reality says the vast majority of folks receiving SS need every penny they can get their hands on and this is simply a way of informing them they can increase their benefit now.
+1
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:53 AM   #4
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REWahoo is exactly right. It's completely optional; you don't have to do anything. They send those out every year to people who could (if they wanted to) receive more than they are currently getting.
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:38 AM   #5
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If it doesn't clearly say that it is optional, then it is a trick. Just a long standing trick.
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:39 AM   #6
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You might also end up getting more from SS by taking the higher payment now. You never know.
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:39 AM   #7
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I get it guys. Really I do. I know it is optional. Their was no mention about this being optional or elective.

My point is that the words they used and the formatting they chose could have been less instructive and more informative. It said you "What You Need To Do" in bold, capitalized letters. They are communicating with "retirees", not all of whom are 100% savvy. I find that intentionally misleading.
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:47 AM   #8
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The entire words. ""What You Need To Do You must apply before we can pay you the higher benefit...." and it goes on. It does not clearly say this is optional.", clearly (to me) says that you must apply to receive the higher benefit. Net, don't apply if you don't want the higher benefit. What's so hard about that? Does it tell you you'll be imprisoned or fined if you don't apply? If not, then it's clearly optional.
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:50 AM   #9
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My DH is waiting until 70 to claim his SS, and is currently receiving a spousal benefit based on my SS. He got the same letter last week.

We interpreted it as an "encouragement" to claim his full benefits now rather than wait while getting spousal benefits, and decided it may be an attempt at cost savings by the SS office. We are not changing anything.
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:57 AM   #10
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I get it guys. Really I do. I know it is optional. Their was no mention about this being optional or elective.

My point is that the words they used and the formatting they chose could have been less instructive and more informative. It said you "What You Need To Do" in bold, capitalized letters. They are communicating with "retirees", not all of whom are 100% savvy. I find that intentionally misleading.
I find when I call SS or go in for an appointment they are very clear about explaining all your options, at least in our office.
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:48 AM   #11
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We interpreted it as an "encouragement" to claim his full benefits now rather than wait while getting spousal benefits, and decided it may be an attempt at cost savings by the SS office. We are not changing anything.
+1

I get the same letter. I think in part it is a reminder that we can get more now if we need it. It also, I would think, helps the SS Trust Fund out, though I can't imagine it amounts to more than a hill of beans compared to the total payout each year. I doubt if it is some perfidious plot to cheat us out of our hard earned SS benefits.
I could be wrong.
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:58 AM   #12
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... I can't imagine it amounts to more than a hill of beans compared to the total payout each year.
Yep. SS pays out over $1,000,000,000,000 annually and any potential savings to the fund would be infinitesimal.
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Old 04-25-2019, 10:23 AM   #13
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There are so many annuity retirement options, they all cannot be communicated in a way that is simple and easy to figure out or even understand. I suspect there is always an influential voice somewhere challenging the SSA to clarify one option over another. This is never ending, because there are too many options.
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Old 04-26-2019, 07:37 AM   #14
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Nobody at SS is conspiring to rip off retirees. They are just trying to help. If you found the letter misleading write back and tell them. Maybe suggest that add a sentence to the effect that you don’t need to do anything if you are intentionally waiting to file for your own benefit to increase the amount.
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Old 04-26-2019, 02:49 PM   #15
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Interesting; I'm collecting Survivor benefits on late DH's record and waiting for my own to grow till I collect at age 70. I could definitely get a higher benefit on my own record now but, as with the OP, it's a deliberate decision to wait. I haven't gotten a similar letter.

I doubt if there's anything nefarious behind it. a lot of people just don't understand the ins and outs of SS so it might help someone who needs the extra income now.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:01 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by CRLLS View Post
Could it be that the SSA realizes my greater overall benefits and wants to trick me into changing my application to reduce their costs?
No.

Quote:
I wonder how many really fall for this type of ploy? Not me. And I suspect that none of us here would either. I'm pretty sure that some will think they must follow what they "Need To Do."
It's not a ploy, any more than offering you the option to start your benefits at 62 is a ploy.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:03 PM   #17
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If it doesn't clearly say that it is optional, then it is a trick. Just a long standing trick.
Just because it isn't clear to you, that doesn't make it a trick.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:05 PM   #18
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I get it guys. Really I do. I know it is optional. Their was no mention about this being optional or elective.

My point is that the words they used and the formatting they chose could have been less instructive and more informative. It said you "What You Need To Do" in bold, capitalized letters. They are communicating with "retirees", not all of whom are 100% savvy. I find that intentionally misleading.
It may not be worded the way you'd prefer, but it isn't intentionally misleading.

I don't like the fact that they use the term Full Retirement Age when delaying to 70 would get you a "fuller" benefit. But they aren't being intentionally misleading.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:28 PM   #19
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I thought the ability to take SS off your spouse's benefit then switch to your own benefit was eliminated. Or maybe that was something else?
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:52 PM   #20
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I thought the ability to take SS off your spouse's benefit then switch to your own benefit was eliminated. Or maybe that was something else?
If born on or before 01/01/1954 it is still an option. If born after then no longer an option. You might be thinking of "File and Suspend" which has been eliminated.
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