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Money August 2014

Dollar Sense

Potpourri: Miscellaneous Information about Your Money, How to Protect it and Make it Last Longer

By Teresa Ambord

At least twice a week I get notices claiming to be from the U.S. Post Office, also known as USPS.com. They all say that a courier tried to deliver a package and could not. Yet, no postal employee has ever tried to contact me… so… what’s up with that? Yet another scam.

 Social Security and Marriage – or Former Marriage

Is the amount you can collect from Social Security affected by your marital status?

It could be. Let’s say you are a woman whose husband made a great deal more money during his work career than you did. That likely means his Social Security benefits are much higher than yours. Once your husband starts getting Social Security of his own, you are entitled to either take benefits based on your record, or 50 percent of your husband’s benefit if it is higher. This is true even if you never worked, once you reach your full retirement age. Just keep in mind, the higher earning spouse must already be receiving benefits.

In addition, a widow or widower can draw benefits on the deceased spouse’s record if they are higher, but not on both records.

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/retirement/

 

Can your ex-spouse collect benefits based on your record?

Again, the answer is possibly yes if:

  • your ex-spouse is at least 62 years old
  • you were married to this person for at least 10 years
  • you have been divorced from each other for at least two years
  • he or she is unmarried
  • the ex-spouse is entitled to his or her own retirement or disability benefits but has not started drawing benefits on his/her own record.

If all of these requirements are met, your ex-spouse can collect a maximum benefit equal to 50 percent of your benefit at full retirement age. If he or she remarries, the benefit entitlement ends.

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/yourdivspouse.htm

 

My ex-wife is collecting benefits on my Social Security record. I’m concerned that, because of this, my current wife will have to settle for a lower benefit. Is this true?

Rest assured, the amount you and/or your current spouse will be able to draw in Social Security will not be affected by the fact your former spouse is collecting benefits based on your record.

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/yourdivspouse.htm

My ex-husband passed away. Can I collect benefits on his Social Security record?

Suppose your ex-spouse had high earnings. If you have not remarried, you will be treated just like a widow or widower. If you are at least 60 years old you can collect your late ex-spouse’s benefit and let your own benefit grow unclaimed till you reach age 70. Then you can switch to your own benefit if it is higher, according to Carol Thomas a former Social Security Administration employee. Thomas now answers questions regarding Social Security on a site called Retirementcommunity.com.

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survivorplan/ifyou3.htm

 

Don’t Fall for the Post Office Scam

At least twice a week I get notices claiming to be from the U.S. Post Office, also known as USPS.com. They all say that a courier tried to deliver a package and could not. Yet, no postal employee has ever tried to contact me… so… what’s up with that? Yet another scam. Thieves realize we all like to get mail. And it’s extremely easy to copy a logo, like the postal logo.

Like most online scams, the message instructs recipients to click on a link, in order to “print delivery slip.” And in case you don’t believe that one, you’re told you can get answers by clicking another handy link so you can report a possible scam. Gotcha!

Postal authorities say clicking on links or attachments can install viruses on your computer, which steal your personal information stored on the computer, like credit card numbers and access to your bank account.

They are working to fight the crime, but because of the widespread use of the post office, chances are this fraud will not go away soon. Customers who have questions or want to report a scam email should call 1-800-275-8777 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

There are variations on the scam, including one that says “Next day air saver.”

 

Are You Deep in Medical Debt?

You’re not alone. Medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy among the elderly, according to Nolo.com, a legal encyclopedia. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest types of debt to discharge in bankruptcy. Nolo says filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate your medical debt within a few months. Of course, you can only include debts you’ve already racked up. So, Nolo advises that if you know you’re about to incur more medical debt, you might want to consider holding off on filing bankruptcy so those bills are included.

 

Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

Meet Teresa