Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

Social Security Is Not Going Anywhere

Many people hear dire predictions about the future viability of Social Security and assume that the program will end before they can take any benefits. If this results in a failure to educate themselves about the program, it is a big mistake.

People have been predicting the end of Social Security from almost the very moment it was started. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was keenly aware that future generations might seek to end the program and for that reason he insisted that measures be put in place to make it politically difficult for any future politicians to scrap Social Security.

That is why, for example, benefits are not subject to means testing. Even the super wealthy can draw benefits. The idea was to make people view benefits as a right and not as just charity for the poor.

Despite that it is still common for people to believe that Social Security will be gone before they are eligible to draw benefits.

However, as the Albuquerque Journal points out in “Social Security likely here to stay, so get educated” the program is not going away anytime soon.

In fact, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have pledged not to cut benefits or increase the retirement age as part of their Presidential campaigns.

What this means is that, despite warnings about the future of the program and the Social Security trust fund running out of money, you should plan as if the program will be around when you are ready to draw benefits. It is important to educate yourself about how benefits work and when you should start receiving them.

Learn your options and plan accordingly.

Reference: Albuquerque Journal (Sept. 6, 2016) “Social Security likely here to stay, so get educated

 

Social Security Is Not Going Anywhere

Many people hear dire predictions about the future viability of Social Security and assume that the program will end before they can take any benefits. If this results in a failure to educate themselves about the program, it is a big mistake.

People have been predicting the end of Social Security from almost the very moment it was started. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was keenly aware that future generations might seek to end the program and for that reason he insisted that measures be put in place to make it politically difficult for any future politicians to scrap Social Security.

That is why, for example, benefits are not subject to means testing. Even the super wealthy can draw benefits. The idea was to make people view benefits as a right and not as just charity for the poor.

Despite that it is still common for people to believe that Social Security will be gone before they are eligible to draw benefits.

However, as the Albuquerque Journal points out in “Social Security likely here to stay, so get educated” the program is not going away anytime soon.

In fact, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have pledged not to cut benefits or increase the retirement age as part of their Presidential campaigns.

What this means is that, despite warnings about the future of the program and the Social Security trust fund running out of money, you should plan as if the program will be around when you are ready to draw benefits. It is important to educate yourself about how benefits work and when you should start receiving them.

Learn your options and plan accordingly.

Reference: Albuquerque Journal (Sept. 6, 2016) “Social Security likely here to stay, so get educated

 

Mistakes Lead to False Reports of Death

Happy-old-couple[1]Every year the Social Security Administration accidentally lists thousands of people as deceased. That’s actually an improvement for the agency.

The Social Security Administration pays benefits to millions of Americans until they pass away. The agency has an interest in knowing when people pass away so it can stop paying those benefits.

When a person passes away his or her name, birth date and Social Security number are also listed in a public file known as the Master Death List. That list is used by banks, doctors’ offices, credit agencies, health insurers and many more to know when their customers have passed away and to prevent fraudsters from using a deceased person’s information in identity theft schemes.

The problem is that the Social Security Administration makes mistakes regularly as NPR reports in “Social Security Data Errors Can Turn People Into The Living Dead.”

Every month approximately 500 living people are falsely declared dead by the agency. That is actually down from a few years ago when it was about 1,000 people a month.

There is no malicious intent in the agency’s actions. The false information is almost always the result of human error and someone accidentally entering the wrong information into the system.

A total of 500 a month is also not a huge number relative to the millions of people tracked by Social Security, but it is a big headache for those who are wrongly reported to be deceased.

If at some point the Social Security Administration wrongly reports your death, do not hesitate to see an elder law attorney for help sorting everything out. You will not be the first person the government has wrongfully declared dead.

Reference: NPR (Aug. 10, 2016) “Social Security Data Errors Can Turn People Into The Living Dead.”

 

Social Security Website Security

Bigstock-Senior-couple-standing-togethe-12052331[1]In response to numerous complaints the Social Security Administration is temporarily rolling back a new security measure on its website.

Entering a username and a password on a website is no longer considered an adequate measure to protect people from identity theft. The login information is stored in databases that can and sometimes are hacked and sold to thieves.

Since many people commonly use the same login information for multiple websites, a hack of one website also allows thieves to access many more websites. This has created problems for financial institutions that seek to protect their customers’ accounts. The response has been to add extra layers of security requirements to access the accounts.

The Social Security Administration recently did so, but after less than a month it is temporarily suspending the new requirement as ABC News reports in “Social Security Rolls Back Security Measures on Website.”

The requirement Social Security chose is a common one for many banks and other financial institutions. In addition to entering a username and password, website users are also required to enter a one-time code to access their accounts. The codes are sent to users via a text message on a phone previously verified to be the account holder’s. The codes normally expire after a short time.

While this has proven to be a good security measure, it is easy to see how it might not work well for everyone who wants to access their Social Security account online. People who do not have cell phones or who have trouble reading text messages would obviously have difficulty.

Social Security website users who still wish to have the extra layer of security may opt-in to the option for now. No announcement has been made if the requirement will come back in the future or if the Social Security Administration will try a different security option.

Reference: ABC News (Aug. 23, 2016) “Social Security Rolls Back Security Measures on Website.”