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Old 02-22-2015, 12:34 PM   #41
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Individual situations are so different and leaving out some info can completely change how the benefits are figured. The best way to find out the information is to contact social security. If you want to try to figure out things yourself, then you can try to look at social security's manuals. Good luck. https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300615000
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:48 PM   #42
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Thanks for the link Dreamer, it was the SS site I had been reading before posing the question, and I do appreciate all the feedback.

To ChrisC, like you we have been doing tIRA to ROTH conversions for a few years now since retiring and will continue to do so up to age 70. My US SS at age 70 will push me to the top of the UK 20% bracket so RMD's will then push me into the 40% bracket, so I have a big incentive. (Fortunately the ROTH conversions will only be taxed in the US even after we become UK resident so we do have plenty of time, unless the rules change of course)
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Old 02-22-2015, 01:15 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
There's a lot of confusing and misleading information in this thread. I encourage folks to read more in other places like the Bogelheads forum where more accurate information is provided. But to answer your question, which knowledgeable folks once answered for me, WEP results in adjustments to your PIA, Primary Insurance Amount, the basis for calculating your benefits. Those adjustments affect all benefits derived from your PIA, including spousal benefits, so yes, your spouse takes a reduction in spousal benefits caused by WEP adjustments to the PIA.
SS benefits are one of the most confusing programs around, right behind the tax code...I assume no one takes what they read on a public forum as the gospel truth.Fine to recommend Bogelheads...but before taking any action a person should go right to the source, mainly the SS website...I don't feel anybody is trying to mislead people here. There just isn't a one size fits all for SS.
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Old 02-22-2015, 02:01 PM   #44
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SS benefits are one of the most confusing programs around, right behind the tax code...I assume no one takes what they read on a public forum as the gospel truth.Fine to recommend Bogelheads...but before taking any action a person should go right to the source, mainly the SS website...I don't feel anybody is trying to mislead people here. There just isn't a one size fits all for SS.
I apologize if what I posted was interpreted as suggesting that folks here might be intentionally misleading others about SS benefits. I didn't mean to suggest that. It is true that SS benefits are complicated to figure out just like the tax code or government sponsored health or insurance benefits.

I'm not sure going to the source, the SS website or even SS staff, will always lead to the correct answer. I've known several people who, after studying SS website information, went to the local SS office and still got the wrong information from SS staff, the quality of which may vary from office to office, from region to region. I've had the same thing happen to me when helping my Mom apply for Medicaid several years ago -- took me an appeal/reconsideration request and a hired attorney specialist (and my wife and I are two lawyers who worked in Government benefit programs early in our careers at HEW) -- to get that straightened out.

As a retired Federal civil servant, I have the utmost respect for our Government workforce. But we are prone like others to make occasional mistakes in providing information to the public or in carrying out our duties and responsibilities. The point of this is that you really, really need to do your own homework for Government sponsored health or benefit programs, and not take what's posted in public forums or even on a Government website as the Gospel truth.

BTW, in threads on SS in Bogelheads there are two well known posters there, SScritic and Oblivious Investor (Mike Piper), who have a great deal of depth in SS. One of them has even written a book on it: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Securit...sap_bc?ie=UTF8, which I found out about from this Early Retirement forum when it was offered for free on Kindle.
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Old 02-22-2015, 02:37 PM   #45
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I think that SS, like many other topics, is either simple or complicated depending on your situation. Folks that have to deal with WEP are in a different place than people with straight SS. Folks with one significant earner are different than folks with 2 significant earners. Folks roughly the same age are different than folks with significant difference in age.

When we are amongst folks similar to ourselves, the discussion is more straight-forward. But what works for me, and is obvious to me, may be very different for somebody in a different situation.

This group tends to have folks that are out there on the tail of the curve. I have no idea what happens when you have a WEP SS person with multiple pensions, and spouse with significant age difference, retiring in a different country, where they also have a retirement plan.

My situation- DW and I are approximately the same age. My earnings are significantly larger than hers. We do not need the income asap. We are probably within one standard deviation of the normal SS situation. Easy for many folks to contribute meaningful insight and reference websites.
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Old 02-22-2015, 03:14 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
I apologize if what I posted was interpreted as suggesting that folks here might be intentionally misleading others about SS benefits. I didn't mean to suggest that. It is true that SS benefits are complicated to figure out just like the tax code or government sponsored health or insurance benefits.

I'm not sure going to the source, the SS website or even SS staff, will always lead to the correct answer. I've known several people who, after studying SS website information, went to the local SS office and still got the wrong information from SS staff, the quality of which may vary from office to office, from region to region. I've had the same thing happen to me when helping my Mom apply for Medicaid several years ago -- took me an appeal/reconsideration request and a hired attorney specialist (and my wife and I are two lawyers who worked in Government benefit programs early in our careers at HEW) -- to get that straightened out.

As a retired Federal civil servant, I have the utmost respect for our Government workforce. But we are prone like others to make occasional mistakes in providing information to the public or in carrying out our duties and responsibilities. The point of this is that you really, really need to do your own homework for Government sponsored health or benefit programs, and not take what's posted in public forums or even on a Government website as the Gospel truth.

BTW, in threads on SS in Bogelheads there are two well known posters there, SScritic and Oblivious Investor (Mike Piper), who have a great deal of depth in SS. One of them has even written a book on it: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Securit...sap_bc?ie=UTF8, which I found out about from this Early Retirement forum when it was offered for free on Kindle.
I have that book myself and agree it is very useful,I never thought you meant it was anything intentional with any incorrect info that might end up in this forum. Someone might post incorrect info believing it to be true and can themselves benefit by a polite correction. When someone posts something, I always assume they do it good faith, it's my job to accept or research it as I see fit.
However, your comment about not always believing what SS itself tells you, just proves what a minefield it all is.It's too bad it's all so complicated that we need to have special books written about it! Every thread that starts up about SS and when and how to file just proves my point. I for one am glad to have people around to bounce info and ideas off for another point of view.
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