Skip to comments.Help Needed - Social Security Benefits Question
Posted on 04/08/2012 7:12:19 PM PDT by TheBattman
My Step-father was killed in a vehicle accident recently (hit head-on by a drunk driver). He and my mother had been married nearly 26 years. He had started drawing Social Security benefits a few years back (full retirement age), though he was still working.
My mother, who has paid in to Social Security for many years and is a college teacher recently retired (Texas Teacher Retirement)and they moved back up to MIchigan. She is also "retirement age", but is still teaching essentially "full time".
She has been taking care of final stuff - and ran into something she had been warned about - she cannot draw social security because she retired under the Texas system. I'm not sure how many years she taught in texas colleges (two different sets of years she lived and taught in Texas), but she also taught for several years in Michigan, and a few here in Arkansas as well.
Anyway - her understanding is that she gets zero Social Security because she is a Texas Teacher Retirement recipient. She is frustrated with this, but has accepted as "fact".
On the other hand, another question now arises over benefits related to my Step-father. He was never a teacher and not a participant in said system. My mom went to her local SS office and found out she will draw a very tiny piece of my step-father's benefits - I believe around $60 per month...
My question - how does her teacher retirement affect drawing anything from my step-father's Social Security benefits? He paid in for 50+ years...
As another side note - she was asked by the SS rep about her previous marriage (to my father who is still living). She said that when he passes away, though he too remarried, my mom could draw more benefits from my father's social security than her recently deceased husband's social security because they were married over 10 years. The rep said that this would not affect my step-mother's benefits from my Dad's social security when he passes.
This makes no sense to me. I have tried to dig up info about the Texas Teacher Retirement vs. Social Security and have been unable to find a lot of details. I can find nothing at all about her not being able to receive normal benefits from her deceased spouse's benefits. And then - she will be able to draw on my Dad's social security when he passes... even though he has been remarried as well (for about the same length of time as my mother)?
Just looking for some answers. Please help me understand this mess.
Best of luck!
The way it was explained to me is that if the first husband (married over ten years) gives you more SS than your current husband (married over ten years), that the SS office gives you $ based on the larger amount.
My brother taught school and was a superintendent for years and opted out of SS, now pays with his new job, so he will collect something.
The teacher thing may be messing up the SS.
Your mom is probably distressed about the death of her husband and not hearing everything correctly, please help her filter through all the paper work.
Good luck and God’s speed.
I believe this is incorrect. IF she only taught in Texas and contributed to TRS, then she wouldn't qualify for SS because she didn't pay into it, however, you indicated she didn't just teach in Texas so she does qualify for any other retirement plans she contributed to. My MIL was a High School teacher in Lubbock most of her life but is teaching the past few years at Texas Tech so she can get both SS and TRS.
Contact the Social Security Office nearest you, in person, if possible, and ask them directly about this situation. Since Social Security is a federal program, it should not be affected by any state program.
Also, you should have gotten your late father and living mother’s SS earnings statements, over the years. Look at all the data there and show it at the Soc. Sec. office.
Don’t do anything over the internet until you clear this up. In fact, either take your mother or have her go to the SS office with all the papers she has. She can probably register right there and have them compute what she should be receiving both from her late husband and from her own account.
Don’t listen to what other people say. Only the Soc. Sec. office can make any payment determinations.
Just a quick confirmation of my last post.
As for the death of a spouse I am not sure how that works though I have seen shows, ficitional, where the spouse doesn't tell anyone about the death of their spouse to keep collecting the Social Security. Don't know what the reality is, but that sounds like it has a ring of truth to it.
Even though I am getting ever closer to collecting, I really do not know that much about Social Security because I figure it will be bankrupt about the time I can start collecting anyway. 8>P
She will NOT collect his and hers....
Some state [teacher] retirement systems opted to their own funding rather than have social security taken out and being a part of the SS system.
It would probably be best to find an attorney who specializes in social security and teacher retirement systems.
You might also contact the TX retirement system and talk to them.
Im not sure about the Texas teacher’s thing, but yes it is entirely possible that your mother could get benefits (benes as we call them) based on her first marriage since it was of such long-standing. And no, this would not diminish the benes your father’s current wife (later widow) would get.
This is just part of why soc. sec. is not really a “retirement savings system” it is rather a hybrid of that crossed with a welfare system.
And I am not at all sure that your mother’s employment by the Texas system would exclude her from soc. sec. benes from her recently deceased hubby. But, it might, as I say I’m really not sure about that part.
Also, depending on what job your father had/has your mother might, MIGHT be entitled to some income from any pension he would have at any job he held at the time their marriage was dissolved.
In NY for example it was possible for a spouse to “disinherit” their mate from state/city (not sure!) benefits and, well, basically leave their pension to the goomah or goombah and that law needed to be, and was (I think!) changed.
Perhaps a good thing to do would be to consult an attorney, or somesuch, who deals with this stuff all the time and could give you some advice. If anything is not being handled properly he or she could take action on your mom’s behalf and even if everything is “proper” you and your mom would feel reassured and know where she stands.
Even if you paid for the meeting it shouldn’t cost more than about $200 bucks regardless of where in the country you are.
I would also suggest going to the local social security office, although my experience has been that a lot depends on the luck of the draw. The first time, I got some great advice and help from someone who gave me plenty of time, and took care of all the details for me.
The second visit, about something else, I got a jackass who didn’t know anything, and I wasted half a day. So I went back again the next day, and fortunately got someone better.
But if you can get someone good, who is on your side and working for you, that would be your best solution.
I’m of the opinion that she will receive your step father’s social security retirement, and her teaching pension. Yes, she opted out of SS. As far as SS is concerned, she would be treated the same as a widow who was a homemaker, and never paid in. She would then receive the hubby’s SS.
But like the others have said, call them. And don’t make a big thing out of the fact that she opted out of SS.
The Federal government can't really go 'bankrupt'. The Federal Reserve can, and I expect will, buy any of the SSA's IOU's that are sitting at the Treasury and need to be redeemed for cash to pay beneficiaries. Furthermore, when that 'trust fund' of IOU's is exhausted, I expect the government to simply issue general debt (purchased by the Federal Reserve with freshly printed notes) and the checks to keep flowing.
Not getting the payments won't be the problem.
"We can guarantee cash payments from here on out, what we cannot guarantee is the purchasing power of that cash." -Alan Greenspan during remarks on Social Security, Feb 16, 2005
It is called WEP. Windfall Exemption to Pension, or something like that.
The short answer is that you mother will NOT receive social security. I am in that same boat. When I hired into the PD in 1980 I did not pay social security but into my local pension system.
I have paid in almost as many years into social security that I paid into the pension system but I will most likely never see it.
I would have to look at it again, but basically she loses 50 cents on every dollar of your pension. If you are eligible for $1500.00 per month in social security, if you pension is 3000.00 per month, you would get nothing. Pension less, you would get something.
I don’t know how that applies to the surviving spouse situation.
After reading through http://www.atpe.org/advocacy/issues/socSec.asp posted by another freeper, it sounds like what she has been told is correct.
It just seems so odd that she paid into Social Security for many years, and that is essentially “gone” - gone to pay other folks Social Security checks, I suppose.
I am still puzzled by the fact that she can draw based on my Father’s Social Security (if it would be a greater amount than what is offset with my Step-father’s).
It’s too late and I am too tired to type it all out, however she is getting some partial correct and partial incorrect information. She needs to get a second opinion.
Wife #1 can draw benefits from a deceased ex-husband (married more than 10 years) and wife #2 can get same benefits and they do not effect each other.
You could have 5 ex-wives and all get the full benefit without effecting any of the others. Makes no sense actuarially, but that is the rule.
I collect two private pensions and SS, you are allowed a base income before your SS pension is considered taxable as current income, once that base is exceeded an increasing portion of your SS pension becomes taxable up to a maximum of 85%. Please note that is NOT the tax rate only the amount considered income. Good luck, I wish you and your mother well in your quest to get some of your own back.
Sounds strange to me - my parents both taught (Pennsylvania) and contributed to TIAA/CREF and SS - they collected from both on retirement and, when my father died, my mother had the option of continuing with her SS payments or taking my father’s, which ever gave her the most monthly income - she switched to his schedule and continued receiving SS and her own pension until her death - I’d double check with another SS representative.....
IN Texas - if you are a Teacher - you pay into the Texas Teacher Retirement System in place of Social Security (you pay no SS Tax).
I can grasp not drawing from both if you didn’t pay into Social Security to begin with...
BUT- my mother paid into Social Security quite a few years when she taught and worked outside of Texas. She apparently loses all of that...
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