Keeping Social Security Updated Prevents Unwanted Surprises


By Tonie Garcia

Social Security District Manager in Portsmouth, OH

Most people love surprises, but many dislike change. It’s just the opposite with Social Security. If you receive benefits, we want to hear about your changes.

Keeping us informed minimizes the chance that we learn about something later that could negatively affect your benefits. That’s the surprise no one wants, because it creates overpayments that you must repay, disrupts payments, and can even jeopardize your entitlement to Social Security benefits.

Here is a reminder of some of the most common forms of information Social Security needs from you.

Your address and direct deposit information. We need to know your current mailing address and phone number so we can reach you if needed. This is especially important if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) since where you live can change the amount of your SSI benefits.

When your direct deposit information is not current, it can cause headaches with missing or delayed payments. You can update your address or direct deposit information when you register for a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Your work. When you receive Social Security disability benefits or SSI for a disability, we have found you unable to work because of your condition. That’s why we need to know if you take a job or are self-employed, or if you stop work or have any changes in work hours, or pay. If your work is substantial enough, it may affect your benefits. You may also need to report if you begin receiving or have a change in any worker’s compensation or public disability benefits.

If you are receiving retirement or survivors benefits, be mindful of the yearly earnings limit before you reach Full Retirement Age (FRA), which is currently 67 years old if you were born in 1960 or later. For 2015, the earnings limit is $15,720. When you earn over this amount, we deduct $1 in benefits for every $2 you earn. That means if you earn $30,000, we will have to reduce your benefits by roughly $7,000. It’s very important to give us a work estimate at the start of the year so that we can withhold what’s needed. If we find out you had excess earnings at a later date, you could end up with a large overpayment that you will have to repay.

Your living arrangements for SSI. To receive SSI you must demonstrate financial need, in addition to meeting other requirements. Living arrangements may change how much money you receive. Social Security needs to know how many people are in your household and how expenses are shared. We also need to know if you receive any payments from other sources, and if you have savings that go over the SSI resource limit ($2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple).

You can learn more about reporting responsibilities for people working and receiving disability or SSI benefits by reading our online publication Working While Disabled — How We Can Help and How Work Affects Your Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Some changes can be reported online at www.socialsecurity.gov. You can also notify us 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local Social Security office.

Our goal at Social Security is to pay you the right amount, on time, every month. With your cooperation to keep us informed of changes, the likelihood of any unpleasant surprises that could derail your benefits will be greatly minimized.

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