Edward Lafferty, Public Affairs Specialist for the Social Security Administration discussed the agency and its continued operations during the government shutdown and things to consider in the new year, including a review of personal finances. We first discussed important upcoming dates for registering for Medicare, the enrollment window ends in March for those eligible, without a significant life-change, the window closes until next January. He reminded us to open a My Social Security account to track our benefits and to make sure the data is correct. He noted additional benefits to the account, you can use it to order replacement cards and to contact the agency with issues. We reviewed important ages, partial benefits at 62 and full at a sliding number depending on the year you were born. He noted that if you take benefits early your total monthly payment will forever be reduced, even after you reach your full retirement age, so avoid claiming benefits for as long as possible. We discussed fraud and he warned us that the SSA will not contact you by phone unless you are already involved in a conversation, be careful with your personal information and know that you will never be contacted by phone or email if you are in a dispute with the agency. He reminded us that spoof pros will have return email addresses and area codes to look local. We discussed who is eligible for benefits, anyone who worked for a minimum of 40 credits, survivors of beneficiaries or disabled dependents. We also spoke on who CANNOT receive benefits, including undocumented or illegal immigrants, despite public assumptions. He noted however, that many Green Card workers pay into the system, as do some undocumented workers, and never claim their earned benefits. Finally, a story from the Social Security history files, this time about a wallet manufacturer in the early ’30s who included a mock Social Security Card to show where you could keep this new item. Unfortunately they used the manufacturer’s secretary’s personal number on the cards and many buyers thought that was their card! Ed told us that the number was still being used in the 1970s!
Visit the Social Security Administration online at SSA.gov or call them at 800-772-1213. If you suspect fraud, toward you or a oved one or friend, contact the Inspector General’s office at 800-269-0271.