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Front Page » October 24, 2006 » Local News » Castle Valley Summit Part Iv: a Look at Social Security
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Castle Valley Summit Part Iv: a Look at Social Security

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Sandy Hunter speaks about social security.

Social Security; Your Personal Plan

Sandy Hunter is the Public Affairs Specialist of Social Security for the Utah State Government. She was worked with Social Security for more than 30 years. Hunter first started by talking about the highly talked about worry about social security. It is a big problem that is being faced by the administration as the baby boom is hitting retirement age. The worker-to-beneficiary ratio that was once at 16.5 to 1 in 1950 to 3.3 to 1 today. Is now believed to be 2/1 within 40 years. At this ratio there will not be enough workers to pay scheduled benefits. Hunter said that there is about two trillion dollars in the social security trust fund right now, but in 2041 it is expected to be gone. This is not the first time that the administration has been faced with this problem. It also happened 75 years ago, when the worry of no pay out hit. Hunter went on to say the Congress must make a change now and pass a law. She assured us that Congress would not raise taxes on social security.

In order to retire you must receive 40 credits, which is equal to 10 years of work. Four credits can be earned each calendar year, one credit a quarter. Social Security benefits are there to replace part of your earnings, not all of them. So a supplement retirement is strongly requested. So the amount you receive depends on your average annual lifetime earnings. That total is then applied to a formula, which will make an adjustment for inflation. You and your spouse may take an early retirement beginning at the age of 62, but only with a permanent reduction in benefits. Full retirement is any where from age 65-67 depending on the year of your birth. If you choose to continue working even after your full retirement age, you will receive extra credits.

Your survivor may receive 100 percent at their full retirement age, 71.5 percent at age 60 and age 50 is they are disabled. A widower may receive 75 percent at any age if they are caring for a child of the worker until they turn 16 or if disabled. A child will receive 75 percent until the age of 18 or until out of high school, not to exceed 19 years old. A disabled child will receive benefits the rest of their life if they are not married. A divorced spouse may also receive benefits if they are single and were married to the worker for at least 10 years. Having more than one survivor or ex-spouse does not reduce the benefit for any other survivors.

Hunter said that by going to the social security website, you can put in any age or amount of wages, to figure out what you will be receiving. If you will be retiring at the age of 62 call no earlier than three months prior. Anytime between age 62 and full retirement age call four months prior. At full retirement age call January of year of full retirement age, because benefits may be taken out before the month of retirement hits.

Hunter went on to talk about Medicare. Medicare coverage begins the month of age 65. Part A coverage is hospital insurance for you and your spouse, there is a deductible but no monthly premium. Part B coverage is medical insurance, which covers 80 percent of doctor bill after a $124 annual deductible is met. There is a monthly premium of around $88.50. It can also be pro-rated by the amount of your income. Part D coverage is for your prescriptions. There are 45 different plans that are available. You can go to the website and put in the medication you are taking and figure out what is the best plan for you, with the cheapest cost. To enroll in Part D you must have Part A and B too. There is also help in cost for Part D, depending on your income. Initial Medicare enrollment period begins three months before the age of 65 through three months after age 65. General enrollment is every year from January through March. A 10 percent surcharge is added for each delayed year.

In session two, Hunter spoke of employer policies regarding employees. She said as of now there is no rule for an employer in the case that they have an immigrant working for them. Although, employers are recommended to not terminate their employee's employment.

Social Security numbers are often misused for ID theft; as they have never been able to stop the problem. Hunter told of a Social Security number that had been used over 40,000 times for ID theft. A picture of one of the SS employees had been printed to show the new wallets to fit the SS cards in.

The employee was holding up her own SS card, letting everyone see her number and name, thus the reason it was used so much.

Employers need an I-9 form on all employees including an identification. Temporary worker's have different social security cards, make sure the card is not expired.

Permanent alien's will receive a regular card. A website is offered by social security to check social security numbers with names and information.

Although there are no rules that imply that you have to, it might be a good idea.

Hunter went over the online verifying service with those present at the session.

She said that 90 percent of mis-matches online are due to individuals not changing their name with the SS number.

In the case they were married or so forth. You can also file your W-2s online which extends the date to March 31 and is much faster.

Hunter went over on what to look for an invalid SS card and showed some examples.

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