Social Security beats it again, but eventually redeems itself with the help of my company

Here’s Emily’s (not her real name) account of Social Security’s misjudgment of her widow’s benefit and failure to pay her the spousal benefit she owed while her husband was alive. With my personal financial planning software from the company help, a brilliant staff finally got it 100 percent right!

Here’s Emily’s (not her real name) account of Social Security’s misjudgment of her widow’s benefit and failure to pay her the spousal benefit she owed while her husband was alive. With the help of my personal financial planning software company, a brilliant staff finally got it 100 percent right!

My conclusion?

No one should apply for Social Security without, My Company’s Lifetime Social Security Optimization Program, or other private software you trust. As explained here, Social Security benefit calculators are: not to be trusted. In very complex cases, as Emily describes below, Social Security makes calculations by hand! If the person making the calculations is as knowledgeable as the typical executive, you are getting too little or too much. If it is too little, you will never necessarily find out that you are underpaid. If it’s too high and they spot the error, it’s considered your fault (I’m not kidding) and you’ll get a potentially high bill in the mail. I saw one such bill, sent to a disabled employee, for $300K! – all due to misinformation about Social Security.

Larry, after my husband died and on the advice of several sources, I contacted my local Social Security office to report his passing. He received disability benefits after being diagnosed with recurrent and metastatic colorectal cancer about two years earlier.

During the conversation, the representative made an appointment for a telephone appointment for a survivor benefit. Prior to that appointment, I had to bring in my original marriage certificate and put it in their drop box. They already had the electronic obituary from the morgue.

I explained about the specific complications in my situation:

1. My husband was receiving disability benefits at the time of his death at age 63.

2. I have been receiving pension benefits for just over two years since I was 62.

3. My husband had two adult sons from his first marriage, both of whom were determined to be disabled before they were 22 and were receiving disabled child support.

4. It was not known if any of them had ever done W-2 work.

5. The two adult sons had also received survivor benefits from their mother’s Social Security; she had died about three years earlier.

I was told there is a family maximum and that amount would be split between me and my husband’s two adult disabled sons, depending on the deceased parent’s benefit which would bring them more money, after calculating my percentage, if applicable.

The telephone appointment lasted two and a half hours. Despite this being such a complex case, an intern was assigned to the call. At one point a manager was called in. She explained that the total benefit would be split between myself and my late husband’s disabled adult sons, “like a pie, cut in three” and that the amount I would receive would be between $500-$800/month, plus my monthly retirement benefit (of $800). I was told it would take up to six months for the calculations to be made and the amount determined.

I was also informed that they had lost track of our marriage certificate and the claim could not proceed without that document. The following week I called the office again. The rep shook things up, found our document, and got things back on track.

Over the following months, I consulted several financial advisors and hired an estate attorney to help me manage the affairs of my now sole proprietorship. They were all very skeptical that the amount quoted to me was correct. My probate attorney suggested talking to a counselor she knew had a lot of experience with complex situations.

The advisor asked a lot of questions and then said there was a good chance that Social Security would calculate the wrong amount and that the only way for me to get an accurate monthly payment would be to consult the country’s top expert on complex social security issues. Laurence Kotlikoff. He sent me to Kotlikoff’s “Maximize My Social Security” website and I emailed a brief description of my complicated situation on the contact page.

Larry Kotlikoff contacted me directly and after asking more questions, he started a torrent of email communication between himself, me and two of his company’s experts. They found out what the probable amount was (given the data I had) – a thousand dollars a month more than the minimum amount I had specified and also the reason why Social Security was so far away. It ignored the combined family maximum — the higher maximum that applied, since the boys could also collect on their late mother’s record. Larry asked me to call my local office to find out the combined maximum family amount they used for their calculations.

The rep who answered the general line explained that survivor benefits were not his area of ​​expertise. He sent a number of written questions to a specific expert in whom he trusted. He told me, after a few more exchanges, that she wanted to speak to me directly.

This turned out to be a very coincidental contact! She was very knowledgeable, friendly and compassionate. I told her that Larry Kotlikoff would love to talk to her. She said that probably wouldn’t be necessary, because looking at my case, she could see where things needed to be recalculated.

I told her I was nervous that an intern had entered information and that although the intern’s submission would be carefully checked, it would affect the results if the information was entered incorrectly. She replied that the benefit amount she came up with was significantly higher than the amount I was initially told. She then recalculated the amount again, realizing that I was much closer to my full retirement age than was first indicated. Her calculations came very close to what Larry Kotlikoff and his team had estimated.

In addition, the expert asked why I had received a partner’s benefit during the 21 months that my husband was incapacitated for work. I was never told about that. In the two years since my husband’s terminal diagnosis and disability, I didn’t remember any of the more than 15 Social Security representatives I had spoken to about spouse benefits. She explained that both my husband’s and I’s disabled sons should have been on benefits at the time.

If I hadn’t received a letter from Social Security telling me to claim those benefits, I was entitled to receive them retroactively. She checked the history of the messages sent to me and determined that in fact no letter had been sent. She immediately made the calculations for me and submitted the arrears and the monthly widow’s benefit.

Within a few days of that call, the deposits were in my bank account.

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