The Inspector General of Social Security, is warning the Americans about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not suspend or discontinue benefits because their offices are closed.
The Inspector General reports that Social Security beneficiaries have received letters through the U.S. Mail stating their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call a phone number referenced in the letter. Scammers may then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures.
Even though local SSA offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, Social Security employees continue to work. Social Security will not suspend or decrease Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments due to the current COVID19 pandemic.
Remember Social Security will never:
- threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee;
- promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment;
- require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card;
- demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem; or
- send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.
If you receive a letter, text, call or email that you believe to be suspicious, about an alleged problem with your Social Security number, account, or payments, hang up or do not respond. The Social Security Administration encourages you to report Social Security scams using their dedicated online form, at https://oig.ssa.gov. For more information, please visit https://oig.ssa.gov/scam. Members of the press may make inquiries to Social Security OIG at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information, click here.
- Ask students if they or their family members have received calls from government imposter scammers. If so, how did you or your family respond to such calls?
- Ask students to make a list of possible actions that individuals can take to combat Social Security imposters.
- If you believe you have been a victim of Social Security or an IRS impersonator scam, what actions should you take to prevent such calls in the future?
- How do scammers play on emotions like fear or greed to convince people to provide personal information or money in cash, wire transfers, or gift cards?
- Why do fraudsters often demand payment via retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, such as Bitcoin, or prepaid debit card?
Approaching and preparing for retirement can be a daunting task, but Social Security makes it as easy as possible. Social Security has eliminated the forms, signatures, wait time, and appointments. The agency has now made it easy, convenient and secure to apply. You can complete online retirement application in as little as 15 minutes from your preferred location, at a time most convenient for you. However, before you apply, consider how you’ll like to receive benefits, your health, and whether anyone else in your family can get benefits on your record.
The age you choose to retire affects the amount of benefits you receive and when you can start receiving them. If you start them any time before your full retirement age, Social Security reduces your monthly benefit. Depending on your year of birth, your full retirement age is likely between age 66 and 67. You may start receiving benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70.
If you elect to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, and continue to work, it can affect your benefits. The Retirement Estimator calculates a personal estimate of how much your benefit will be at different ages and “stop work” dates. You can use it to find the best combination for your situation. You can read about other things to consider before you make your decision about when to begin your benefits. If you’re ready to apply, you can do it online.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students to debate the statement, “It is never too early to begin planning for retirement”.
- What information will you need when you apply for retirement?
- Why is it important to start retirement planning when you are still young?
- Would it be better for you to start getting benefits early with a smaller monthly payments for more years, or wait for a larger monthly payment over a shorter time period?
Even if you just started working, now is the time to start preparing for retirement. Achieving the dream of a secure, comfortable retirement is much easier with a strong financial plan.
Tip 1: Start Early
Social security Administration’s retirement planning resources are helpful to you at any stage of your career. Their calculators, Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool, and disability resources are all available on our benefit planners website.
Tip 2: Be Informed
What’s the best age to start receiving retirement benefits? The answer is that there’s no single “best age” for everyone and, ultimately, it’s your choice. The most important thing is to make an informed decision, based on your individual and family circumstances.
Tip 3: Estimate the Benefits You Might Get
Knowing the amount of money you could get is pivotal in planning your finances. With the Retirement Estimator, you can plug in some basic information to get an instant, personalized estimate of your future benefits. Try out different scenarios, such as higher or lower future earnings amounts and various retirement dates to see the various potential effects on your future benefit amounts.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students to prepare a list of several retirement planning sources available from various governmental and private organizations.
- What actions you can take to prepare for retirement right now? Share your list with colleagues, friends, and relatives.
- Why is it important to start planning for retirement as early as possible?
- Why should you save now for retirement? Isn’t Social Security enough during retirement years?
- What are some ways to invest to reach your retirement goals and never outlive your savings?
The Social Security Board of Trustees released its 2019 annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security trust funds. The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASI and DI) trust funds are projected to become depleted in 2035, one year later than projected last year, with 80% of benefits payable at that time.
The OASI trust fund is projected to become depleted in 2034, the same as last year’s estimate, with 77% of benefits payable at that time. The DI trust fund is estimated to become depleted in 2052, extended 20 years from last year’s estimate of 2032, with 91% of benefits still payable.
The Board of Trustees usually comprises six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Commissioner of Social Security, Secretary of Health and Human Services and Secretary of Labor. The two public trustee positions are currently vacant.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students if they are concerned about the future of Social Security. Do they believe that Social Security will be there when they retire?
- Ask students to debate the issue, “Social Security is not sustainable over the long term at current benefit and tax rates.”
- What is the outlook for future Social Security and Medicare costs in relation to GDP?
- What might be the implications of rising Social Security and Medicare costs?
- How are Social Security and Medicare financed?
- How do longer life expectancies and early retirements affect the future of Social Security?
In April, the Social Security Administration celebrated National Social Security Month, and highlighted the agency’s mission and purpose.
The agency is constantly expanding its online services to give you freedom and control in how you wish to explore it.
For example, you can go online to:
- Find out if you qualify for benefits;
- Use benefit planners to help you better understand your Social Security protection;
- Estimate your future retirement benefits to help you plan for your financial future;
- Retire online, or apply for Medicare quickly and easily; and
- Open your personal my Social Security to help you stay in control of your Social Security record.
If you currently receive benefits, you can:
- Change your address and phone number;
- Get a benefit verification letter to prove you receive Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Medicare;
- Start deposits or change your direct deposit information at any time;
- Get a replacement Medicare card; and
- Get a replacement Benefit Statement (SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S) for tax purposes
For more information, click here.
- Ask students if they have a Social Security account. If not, encourage them to establish their account, regardless of their age.
- Make students understand that Social Security is not just for people over 65. The program provides benefits to retirees, survivors, and disabled persons.
- Why is it important to open a mySocial Security account, even if you are in your teens?
- What are the pros and cons of collecting Social Security at age 62? Under what circumstances would you choose to collect benefits before full retirement age?
You work hard for your money. You’re saving and planning for a secure retirement. Now you need to make sure you’re going to get all the money you deserve. Regularly reviewing your Social Security earnings record can really pay off, especially when every dollar counts in retirement. If an employer did not properly report just one year of your work earnings to Social Security, your future benefit payments from Social Security could be nearly $100 per month less than they should be. Over the course of a lifetime, that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in retirement or other benefits to which you are entitled.
It’s ultimately the responsibility of your employers — past and present — to provide accurate earnings information to Social Security so you get credit for the contributions you’ve made through payroll taxes. But you can inform Social Security of any errors or omissions. You’re the only person who can look at your lifetime earnings record and verify that it’s complete and correct.
So, what’s the easiest and most efficient way to validate your earnings record?
- Visit Social Security websiteto set up or sign in to your own my Social Security account;
- Under the “My Home” tab, select “Earnings Record” to view your online Social Security Statement and taxed Social Security earnings;
- Carefully review each year of listed earnings and use your own records, such as W-2s and tax returns, to confirm them;
- Keep in mind that earnings from this current year and last year may not be listed yet; and
- Notify Social Security Administration right away if you spot errors by calling 1-800-772-1213.
For More information, click here.
- Ask your students if they regularly monitor their earnings with Social Security Administration. If they don’t, encourage them to review their earnings every year.
- Help students understand that because of longer expectancies, the full retirement age is being increased in gradual steps until it reaches 67.
- What can you do if an employer did not properly report your earnings to Social Security?
- Why is it important to create a mySocial Security account if you are 18 or older and have a Social Security number, valid e-mail, and U.S. mail address?
If you get a call that looks like it’s from the Social Security Administration (SSA), think twice. Scammers are spoofing SSA’s 1-800 customer service number to try to get your personal information. Spoofing means that scammers can call from anywhere, but they make your caller ID show a different number – often one that looks legitimate. Here are few things you should know about these fake SSA calls.
These scam calls are happening across the nation, according to SSA: Your phone rings. Your caller ID shows that it’s the SSA calling from 1-800-772-1213. The caller says he works for the Social Security Administration and needs your personal information – like your Social Security number – to increase your benefits payments. (Or he threatens to cut off your benefits if you don’t give the information.) But it’s not really the Social Security Administration calling. Yes, it is the SSA’s real phone number, but the scammers on the phone are spoofing the number to make the call look real.
What can you do if you get one of these calls? Hang up. Remember:
- SSA will not threaten you. Real SSA employees will never threaten you to get personal information. They also won’t promise to increase your benefits in exchange for information. If they do, it’s a scam.
- If you have any doubt, hang up and call SSA directly. Call 1-800-772-1213 – that really is the phone number for the Social Security Administration. If you dial that number, you know who you’re getting. But remember that you can’t trust caller ID. If a call comes in from that number, you can’t be sure it’s really SSA calling.
- If you get a spoofed call, report it. If someone calls, claiming to be from SSA and asking for information like your Social Security number, report it to SSA’s Office of Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or https://oig.ssa.gov/report. You can also report these calls to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
For more information,click here.
You may want to use this blog post and the original article to
- Help students understand that real SSA employees will never threaten you and get personal information.
- Ask students if they or any of their friends or relatives have received a spoofed SSA call (calls)?
- If you are worried about a call from someone who claims to be from the SSA, what would you do?
- What can federal, state and local consumer protection agencies and telecommunication industry do to stop spoofed calls?
Deciding when to start receiving your retirement benefits from Social Security is a decision that only you can make, and you should make that decision with as much information as possible. There are a lot of important questions to answer. Should you claim benefits earlier and get a smaller monthly payment for more years? Or should you wait and get bigger monthly amount over a shorter period?
There are no right or wrong answers, but consider these four important questions as you plan for your financial secure retirement:
- How much money will I need to live comfortably in retirement?
- What will my monthly Social Security retirement benefit be?
- Will I have other income to supplement my Social Security benefits?
- How long do I expect my retirement to last?
For more information, click here.
- Ask students to survey retired individuals or people close to retirement to obtain information on the main sources of retirement income.
- Ask students to survey local businesses to determine the types of retirement plans available to employees.
- What types of retirement income should be the main emphasis of a retirement program?
- What actions might be appropriate by government and individuals to guarantee the continuing financial stability of the Social Security program?
A child needs a Social Security number if he or she is going to have a bank account, if a relative is buying savings bonds for the child, if the child will have medical coverage, or if the child will receive government services. You’ll also need a Social Security number for a child to claim him or her on your tax returns.
The application for a Social Security number and card is sometimes overlooked in the paperwork that parents fill out in preparation for a child’s birth. Typically, the hospital will ask new mothers if they want to apply for a Social Security number for their newborn as part of the birth registration process. This is the easiest and fastest way to apply. The Social Security card typically arrives about a week to ten days after the baby is born. You can learn about Social Security numbers for children by reading a Social Security publication, Social Security Numbers for Children.
If you wait to apply, you will have to visit a Social Security office and you’ll need to:
- Complete an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
- Show original documents proving your child’s U.S. citizenship, age, and identity; and
- Show documents proving your identity.
A child age 12 or older requesting an original Social Security number must appear in person for the interview, even though a parent or guardian will sign the application on the child’s behalf.
For More Information, click here.
- Ask students if Social Security is only meant for the elderly and the disabled persons.
- What is the procedure to apply for a Social Security Number if a parent does not apply for it when the child is born?
- Why is it important to apply for a Social Security Number at child’s birth?
- Does Social Security benefit only retired people? Why or why not?
A current email scam invites people to take advantage of “a little known Social Security contract” which enables you to receive “little known benefits.” Think that sounds too good to be true? It should—there is no “little known Social Security contract.”
What are some clues that scams might not be legitimate? Scammers insist that the situation is urgent and issue warnings. They try to convince you to act now to avoid dire consequences. They promise a deal or secret that the public doesn’t know about. They come from organizations unknown to you. They offer things the government doesn’t want you to know, but they don’t come from a .gov website.
The Federal Trade Commission’s website maintains a list of scams in the news. You can sign up to be notified by an e-mail when new scams appear. You can also get free consumer education materials and read the latest from consumer protection experts. Stay well informed by visiting the FTC scam alert page. It’s in your best interest to find out about the scams and how they work so you won’t fall a victim to one yourself. Protect yourself by learning how to avoid scams and fraud. You can search for “identity Theft” or “phishing scam” on Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov to learn more about how to protect yourself. Then you’ll be the one who knew it sounded too good to be true.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students what they would do if they received such enticing offers.
- Ask students to make a list of agencies where they can file a complaint against these scammers.
- How can you determine if the offer is legitimate?
- What can you do to protect yourself from such bogus offers?