When spousal benefits stop

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Almost there
Posts: 717
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:06 pm
Location: Arizona USA

When spousal benefits stop

Post by Almost there » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:24 am

I have been receiving spousal benefits for the past 3 years and my last month will be April 2018 when I turn 70. In May 2018, I will start receiving social security based on my own record.

Today I received a letter from SS stating that I have to apply for my own social security online based on my own record. I am just wondering why they would send me this letter one year in advance? I was going to check on how to change to my own benefits sometime next year in January or February. The letter also stated, I was supposed to go to the SS website and under Benefits link click Apply Online for Retirement. Well I just went there and nothing is there other than my present benefits I am receiving. I truly prefer doing the process online since the person who answers the phone is not always up-to-date with spousal benefits.

I am now looking for a Boglehead who has gone through this process changing from spousal benefits to your own, so I will know what to anticipate.

Almost there

User avatar
heartwood
Posts: 1046
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:40 pm

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by heartwood » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:37 am

Almost there wrote:I have been receiving spousal benefits for the past 3 years and my last month will be April 2018 when I turn 70. In May 2018, I will start receiving social security based on my own record.

Today I received a letter from SS stating that I have to apply for my own social security online based on my own record. I am just wondering why they would send me this letter one year in advance? I was going to check on how to change to my own benefits sometime next year in January or February. The letter also stated, I was supposed to go to the SS website and under Benefits link click Apply Online for Retirement. Well I just went there and nothing is there other than my present benefits I am receiving. I truly prefer doing the process online since the person who answers the phone is not always up-to-date with spousal benefits.

I am now looking for a Boglehead who has gone through this process changing from spousal benefits to your own, so I will know what to anticipate.

Almost there


I can't comment on your last sentence, we haven't gone through that process yet.

However yesterday my wife received the same letter you mention about applying for her own benefits etc. She filed for spousal last year and started receiving them in December 2016. She plans to file on her own record when she turns 70 in several years time.

It may be that anyone receiving spousal benefits got the letter. She trashed her copy.

User avatar
thursdaysd
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 10:55 am
Location: NC
Contact:

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by thursdaysd » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:44 pm

I have been receiving spousal benefits, and did not receive such a letter. However, I turn 70 this July and have just applied for benefits on my own record. I called to make an appointment at my local office, which is what I did when i applied for spousal benefits. I was told I could have a phone interview, or go into the local office and talk to a computer... I chose the phone call. It took half an hour, as I have a complication regarding a very small company pension from the UK, but the person on the line was pleasant and knowledgeable.
Thursday's child has far to go

Almost there
Posts: 717
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:06 pm
Location: Arizona USA

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by Almost there » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:22 pm

Thank you. Did you call from home? Do you know if it can be done on their website since I applied for spousal support right on their website?

ResearchMed
Posts: 5103
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:43 pm

I did this a short time ago, and next month receive my first "own" SS benefit check.

About 3 months ago, I just phoned to ask how to start the transition process, making sure to emphasize that I didn't want anything backdated... just my own benefits to start at age 70.
I also specified that I still did not want Medicare B (DH has employer's benefits still).

I was given a reservation time for a phone call (about 1-2 months in the future from my initial call), and the phone rang right on schedule.

I just received a letter confirming all the arrangements I had discussed, and all looks in order.

However, I don't remember getting any letter about the process.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

User avatar
thursdaysd
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 10:55 am
Location: NC
Contact:

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by thursdaysd » Mon May 01, 2017 8:17 am

Did you call from home?


Well, yes, I'm retired, where else? However, I called on my cell phone, so I could have been anywhere.

Do you know if it can be done on their website since I applied for spousal support right on their website?


I would expect so, but I didn't look at the website. I thought talking to an actual person would have fewer opportunities for error (I am an ex-techie). Given the letters that are going out, and given that I could no longer talk to an actual person at my local office, and given that the person I did talk to was out of state, I suspect that they are reducing personnel and that using the website may shortly be the only option.

After I called and arranged the time, I received a letter confirming it and telling me what documents I needed (just the info for the bank account I would use, and since it is the same one I didn't even need that). I also received a follow up mailing, documenting everything I had sworn to on the call. I expect to get the new Medicare card when the switch-over occurs.
Thursday's child has far to go

Almost there
Posts: 717
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:06 pm
Location: Arizona USA

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by Almost there » Mon May 01, 2017 1:32 pm

Thank you ResearchMed for your info.
I did this a short time ago, and next month receive my first "own" SS benefit check.

About 3 months ago, I just phoned to ask how to start the transition process, making sure to emphasize that I didn't want anything backdated... just my own benefits to start at age 70.
I also specified that I still did not want Medicare B (DH has employer's benefits still).

I was given a reservation time for a phone call (about 1-2 months in the future from my initial call), and the phone rang right on schedule.

I just received a letter confirming all the arrangements I had discussed, and all looks in order.


thursdaysd wrote:
Did you call from home?


Well, yes, I'm retired, where else? However, I called on my cell phone, so I could have been anywhere.


Thank you thursdaysd for your answer.
What I was wondering whether you called from home or you called from a Social Security office phone?

I truly had no luck calling the Social Security office. When I called to start my spousal benefits, they said that it didn't exist. That was 3+ years ago. After that I followed the advice from Bogleheads who suggested to go to the Social Security's website. That worked quite well. Now I am wondering whether others have used the website for the transition to their own Social Security record.

btenny
Posts: 4107
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:47 pm

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by btenny » Mon May 01, 2017 1:59 pm

I actually went to the SS office several months early to avoid these issues. I went in person to the SS office and it took about two hours including waiting for the clerk. I also had to get a new Medicare card as my Medicare number changed. In my case my Medicare number was based on spousal SS. So there is a lot of paperwork for the gov't to complete and get signatures, etc.. Then I had to go give that new Medicare number to my Medigap insurance, drugs insurance, doctors, etc. Then those providers had to update their paperwork all by my b-day. I did not want some last minute mess up due to being to close to my b-day. So I applied a little early.

Good Luck.

ResearchMed
Posts: 5103
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by ResearchMed » Mon May 01, 2017 2:00 pm

Almost there wrote:Thank you ResearchMed for your info.
I did this a short time ago, and next month receive my first "own" SS benefit check.

About 3 months ago, I just phoned to ask how to start the transition process, making sure to emphasize that I didn't want anything backdated... just my own benefits to start at age 70.
I also specified that I still did not want Medicare B (DH has employer's benefits still).

I was given a reservation time for a phone call (about 1-2 months in the future from my initial call), and the phone rang right on schedule.

I just received a letter confirming all the arrangements I had discussed, and all looks in order.


thursdaysd wrote:
Did you call from home?


Well, yes, I'm retired, where else? However, I called on my cell phone, so I could have been anywhere.


Thank you thursdaysd for your answer.
What I was wondering whether you called from home or you called from a Social Security office phone?

I truly had no luck calling the Social Security office. When I called to start my spousal benefits, they said that it didn't exist. That was 3+ years ago. After that I followed the advice from Bogleheads who suggested to go to the Social Security's website. That worked quite well. Now I am wondering whether others have used the website for the transition to their own Social Security record.


If it's any help, we both used the SS website to start benefits (so that I could claim Spousal only), and we shortly got calls from SS folks who were extremely helpful. They had both applications, with 2 separate reps, and then one said it would be best if she handled both.
Everything got processed fine.
A few years ago, DH called to start his own age 70 benefits, and that went smoothly, similar to mine.
We didn't try to do this final "change to collect full age 70 own benefits" online, and I can't remember if we tried or just didn't bother.

We've had very good "luck" with our calls to SS, which has surprised us each time.

We did initially need to go TO the local office, as SS had both of us as "not born in the USA".
BOTH of us were born in the USA, both in NYC, in fact, although we didn't know each other at the time :)
No one could explain how we each (and separately) had been coded incorrectly somewhere along the way.
Everything went very smoothly after that got cleared up.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

User avatar
thursdaysd
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 10:55 am
Location: NC
Contact:

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by thursdaysd » Mon May 01, 2017 5:28 pm

I truly had no luck calling the Social Security office. When I called to start my spousal benefits, they said that it didn't exist.


Did you call your local office? I called the 1-800 number, and had no difficulties. The first time I called I was told that as a divorced spouse I had to wait until FRA to draw spousal benefits. When I called at FRA I made an appointment to see an actual person at the local office, and she certainly knew about spousal benefits. As I said, this time the person on the call was pleasant and knowledgeable. Sorry you had difficulties, but if the website worked before, and you got a letter telling you to use it, I would expect it to work this time, but you could try the 1-800 number if that's not what you used before..
Thursday's child has far to go

Almost there
Posts: 717
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:06 pm
Location: Arizona USA

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by Almost there » Mon May 01, 2017 7:10 pm

Thank you everyone for your input though I still haven't heard from someone who did it online. Since I will turn 70 in April, i will try their website again in January 2018.

RetiredinKaty
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:52 pm

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by RetiredinKaty » Mon May 01, 2017 7:29 pm

Almost there,

Based on our recent experience I am doubtful that online will work. Once you are in the system as receiving a benefit it seems impossible to access the necessary web page to apply for a new, different benefit. This may be to prevent fraud, but the site and social security personnel don't seem to be aware of this. Anyway, a telephone interview did the trick without any problems or errors.

Just to know, I would also like to hear if anyone receiving a benefit was able to apply for a new benefit online.

Good luck.

Almost there
Posts: 717
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:06 pm
Location: Arizona USA

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by Almost there » Mon May 01, 2017 7:50 pm

Thank you RetiredinKaty. You made some really good points. The letter I received mentions that it can be done. Will just have to wait and see.

Almost there
Posts: 717
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:06 pm
Location: Arizona USA

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by Almost there » Mon May 08, 2017 7:28 pm

I am still looking for a Boglehead who has gone through this process changing from spousal benefits to your own using the Social Security site, so I will know what to anticipate.

JW-Retired
Posts: 6370
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:25 pm

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by JW-Retired » Mon May 08, 2017 8:22 pm

Almost there wrote:I am still looking for a Boglehead who has gone through this process changing from spousal benefits to your own using the Social Security site, so I will know what to anticipate.

Sorry, can't help with that. I had poor results when I tried to do restricted to spousal benefits online at age 66. So when I was 70 and wanted to change to my own benefits I did it via a phone appointment. That took only about 15 minutes.... including my wife switching to spousal benefits on my account on the same phone call.
JW
Retired at Last

Munnd
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:23 pm

Re: When spousal benefits stop

Post by Munnd » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:05 pm

This thread appeared just as I reached 70 but I waited to make sure the entire process was successful before posting.

Not finding an online form for the specific situation of switching from spousal benefit to one's own, I filled out the standard online form used to claim retirement benefits. The form asks if you have received benefits on someone else's record and I put in my spouse's information. There is no place specifically to say one is wanting to change from spousal benefit ( called gravy in our household) to one's own benefit. However, there is a box at the end to make a free-text comment and I explained the switch there.

The next day I received a voicemail and email from Social Security asking me to call a specific person and gave the extension. When I called back the following morning the agent picked up promptly and asked whether I wanted to be back paid for several months saying that meant monthly benefit would be slightly lower. I said no, I had waited till month I was completely over seventy to get absolute maximum. She said that I would receive payment in June since day we spoke was a third Wednesday which is day I would usually get paid. I asked about Medicare card with my own number ( present one had spouse's). She said it would come within a month. The whole conversation was less than ten minutes - of which part was verification of the mother's maiden name variety. The agent was pleasant and seemed well informed.

About two weeks later I received my new Medicare card. A few days ago I checked the My Social Security account page and saw that I had indeed been paid the larger amount on June's third Wednesday and also had credit for the first month.

Our experience about four years ago when we made an appointment at a SS office for spouse to file and suspend and I to file for "gravy" and the online experience last month to change my benefits went very smoothly.

Post Reply