Headlines about "Social Security - benefits, incl. coverage"

Gathered from the web by the editors at BenefitsLink.com.
Differential Mortality and Retirement Benefits in the Health and Retirement Study
"This analysis uses data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to examine the sources of variation in mortality for individuals of varying socio-economic status (SES). The use of the HRS allows a distinction between education and a measure of career earnings as primary determinants of socio-economic status for men and women separately. [The authors] use those predictions of mortality to estimate the distribution of annual and lifetime OASDI benefits for different birth cohorts spanning the birth years from 1900 to 1950. [They] find differential rates of mortality have had substantial effects in altering the distribution lifetime benefits in favor of higher income individuals." (The Brookings Institution)

How Delaying Social Security Can Be the Best Long Term Investment or Annuity Money Can Buy
"The decision to delay Social Security isn't just about the value of delaying, but also about the money that must be spent from the portfolio to sustain spending in the meantime, and/or the decision to allocate money towards delaying Social Security and not towards other fixed income investments or a commercially available lifetime immediate annuity. Yet a deeper look reveals that when viewed from an investment perspective, the decision to delay Social Security actually represents an astonishingly valuable 'investment' return[.]" (Michael Kitces in Nerd's Eye View)

[Opinion] March Is Women's History Month -- and the Winter of Our Retirement Discontent
"[F]or millions of women their retirement years are not a pretty picture at all.... What are the answers? The most important one is to increase Social Security, not cut it. Consider these facts: [1] Fifty-six percent of Social Security recipients age 62 and older are women. [2] Women make up 68 percent of recipients age 85 and older. [3] Social Security provides at least 90 percent of income for almost half of women 65 and older. [4] The average Social Security benefit for women is just over $13,000 per year. With more than 10 percent of women over the age of 65 living in poverty in 2012, cuts to Social Security would make this rate even worse." (Pension Rights Center)

Enrolled Actuaries Report, Spring 2014 (PDF)
Articles include: [1] Congress presses for pension accounting changes; [2] Benefits of delaying Social Security; [3] Essential elements: raising Social Security retirement age; and [4] Nondiscrimination relief. (American Academy of Actuaries)

SSA OIG Audit Report: Spouses Eligible for Higher Retirement Benefits
"In a 2008 audit, we found that spouses did not always receive the higher retirement benefits due them. We estimated that 13,580 spouses were eligible for $123.7 million in higher retirement benefits after they attained age 70. In this audit, we sought to determine whether SSA had adequate controls to identify and notify spousal beneficiaries who may have been eligible for higher retirement benefits based on their own earnings." (Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration)

Mastering the 'File and Suspend' Social Security Benefit Claim Strategy
"File and suspend is a strategy that can raise benefits for qualifying couples through the use of a combination of spousal benefits and what Social Security calls delayed retirement credits. At least one member of the couple must have reached full retirement age, currently 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954." (AARP)

How 'WEP' Could Upset Your Retirement Plans
"When you have contributed to both Social Security at one job and a pension plan at any job where you didn't pay Social Security taxes, the monthly Social Security benefit you receive will fall short of what your annual statements project -- and you're unlikely to know it until you file for Social Security benefits. This applies mostly to workers who began federal, state and local government jobs before 1984 or have worked abroad. It also affects public-service workers in more than a dozen states who still pay into a pension fund rather than Social Security, as it does some people working for nonprofit agencies that don't contribute to Social Security." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

[Opinion] The High Marginal Cost of the Social Security Benefits Tax
"[W]hen retirees earn $1.00, they must pay taxes on $1.50. As a result, the marginal tax rate on their income is 50 percent higher than for young people with the same income.... [B]ecause there is a limit on the proportion of benefits that are taxed, the marginal tax rate peaks for middle-income seniors and then declines for more wealthy seniors. Simply put, the Social Security benefits tax really sticks it to the middle class." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Actuarial Aspects of Raising the Social Security Retirement Age (PDF)
"Benefits of Raising the Retirement Age: Strengthens Social Security ... Compensates for increased longevity ... Preserves the current benefit formula ... Increases labor force participation ... Preserves intergenerational equity." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Text of Request for Public Comments on Certification Program for Access to Social Security Death Master File (PDF)
"Section 203 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 directed the Secretary of Commerce to establish a certification program under which persons may obtain immediate access to the publicly available Death Master File (DMF). The National Technical Information Service is requesting comments from the public regarding the establishment and implementation of a certification program for access to the DMF. It is expected that information gathered through this RFI will inform NTIS's approach to the development of a certification program, which will be promulgated by NTIS by Notice and Comment Rulemaking.... Comments are due on or before 5:00 pm Eastern time March 18, 2014. The public meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 4, 2014[.]" (National Technical Information Service, U.S. Department of Commerce)

2014 Social Security Quick Fact Sheets
"This set of fact sheets and easy-to-read corresponding infographics provides a one-page overview of quick facts on Social Security benefits and beneficiaries for each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. Information is provided about each state's older population, Social Security beneficiaries, Social Security benefits, Social Security's role in lifting retirees out of poverty, Social Security's impact on the state economy, and the Percent of Social Security as the only source of income among older residents." (AARP)

Social Security File-and-Suspend Strategies for Couples and Individuals
"[T]he file-and-suspend strategy is not just an effective planning tool for couples and families with minor children.... [E]ven single individuals may wish to routinely file-and-suspend if they intend to delay anyway, as a way to 'hedge' against a future change in circumstances.... [T]here are caveats of the file-and-suspend strategy that must be navigated as well, including the fact that suspending will result in a suspension of all benefits (which limits couples from criss-crossing spousal benefits by having each file and suspend), and the fact that filing and suspending still triggers the onset of Medicare Part A benefits, which can render someone who chooses to file and suspend to be ineligible to make any more contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA)." (Michael Kitces in Nerd's Eye View)

Retirement Readiness for Priests: What Every Diocese Needs to Know and Do (PDF)
"[D]ioceses are beginning to ask the question: 'Are we providing an adequate monthly benefit through our Priest Pension Plan?' ... [T]he answer requires information and knowledge about many things such as a priest's Social Security benefit, their personal savings, their desired living arrangements in retirement, and part-time work to name a few.... [W]e have built an adequacy model that incorporates each of these elements (and more) to create a holistic look into the retirement of your priests." (Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company)

Evaluating Social Security Reforms in the Age of Budget Deficits (PDF)
"[A] long-run balanced budget for Social Security could also be achieved with slightly less than the current tax rate and by making two benefit reforms: gradually raising the retirement age for workers who become eligible for benefits in 2023 and after, and making the benefit formula less generous for higher earning workers.... [B]oth the current program with the taxes necessary to close its financing gap (the baseline program) and the reformed program produce comparable net results for workers across birth years and across income classes." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Implications of Growing Differences in Life Expectancy Across Socioeconomic Groups for CBO's Analyses of Social Security Policy Options (PDF)
25 presentation slides. Topics: "How might growing differences in life expectancy across socioeconomic groups influence our analysis of various Social Security policy options? In particular, what happens to our assessment of raising the eligibility age or ages? What tools does CBO use to look at implications of growing differences in life expectancy in the future?" (Congressional Budget Office)

How to Time Social Security Payouts
"The standard advice in recent years for healthy retirees has been to delay starting Social Security payments as long as possible. The reason: You get up to an 8% bump in payments each year you delay between what is called your 'full retirement age' for Social Security purposes and age 70.... But new research finds that for some families, it can pay to fine-tune that strategy -- mainly to postpone withdrawing too much from other savings early on." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

[Guidance Overview] New Law Includes PBGC Premium Hikes (PDF)
"[T]he Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 ... signed into law ... on December 26 includes an $8 billion increase in PBGC premiums. The legislation also makes changes to access to the Social Security Administration's master death file and the charges that federal contractors can make for employee compensation.... [A] chart illustrates PBGC premiums for single employer plans before and after the $8 billion premium hike ... For present law, the chart incorporates the premium increases that were part of MAP-21." (Buck Consultants)

Sources of Income for Older Americans, 2012 (PDF)
"Social Security remains the mainstay of retirement income for most older Americans, while only about one in three receive regular payments from pensions and retirement savings. Social Security accounts for about four out of every five dollars of income for older people with low to moderate incomes. Earnings as a source of older people's income have risen steadily over the past two decades, while income from assets has fallen. Older minorities are less likely to have income from Social Security, pensions and retirement savings, interest, and dividends." (AARP Public Policy Institute)

CBO Provides Additional Information About the 2013 Long-Term Projections for Social Security (PDF)
27 pages. Excerpt: "The shortfalls for Social Security that CBO is currently projecting are larger than those the agency projected a year ago.... This year, rather than using the Social Security trustees' projections of life expectancy (as done for earlier analyses), CBO used its own, which incorporate faster growth of that measure than the Social Security trustees anticipate.... Of the 1.4 percentage-point increase in the 75-year imbalance, a higher projection of life expectancy accounts for 0.6 percentage points, a higher projection of the disability incidence rate accounts for 0.1 percentage point, reductions in income tax rates enacted in January 2013 ... account for 0.4 percentage points, and other factors ... account for 0.4 percentage points." (Congressional Budget Office)

Social Security Begins Paying Survivor Benefits to Same-Sex Married Couples
"The Social Security Administration announced Monday that it has begun processing claims for surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due. To be eligible for a survivor benefit, which is worth 100% of what the deceased worker was collecting or was entitled to collect at the time of his or her death, the spouse must have been married to the worker for at least nine months at the time of death, unless one of the exceptions is met." (InvestmentNews)

How Do Financial Resources Affect the Timing of Retirement After a Job Separation?
"The availability of resources like Social Security retirement benefits, high net worth, and defined benefit pensions appear to encourage more rapid labor force exit and retirement, rather than supporting job seekers during a long search.... [R]etirement is only modestly more likely when the unemployment rate is high, and a greater duration of unemployment insurance benefits has little effect on retirement timing.... These results suggest little tolerance for long job searches -- regardless of labor market prospects -- and indicate that those who can afford to retire will do so rather quickly." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2012
"Disability benefits were paid to just over 10.1 million people. Awards to disabled workers (960,206) accounted for over 90 percent of awards to all disabled beneficiaries (1,063,045).... Workers accounted for the largest share of disabled beneficiaries (87.5 percent). Average age was 53. Men represented under 53 percent. Mental disorders was the diagnosis for about a third." (U.S. Social Security Administration Office of Retirement and Disability Policy)

Social Security and Equity Investments: Lessons from Railroad Retirement
"Some have advocated investing Social Security trust fund assets in equities. A similar proposal adopted by the railroads in 2001 suggests two key hurdles: political risk and financial risk. For political risk, the railroads created an independent trust; a better fit for Social Security might be to limit investments to index funds. For financial risk, the railroads set up an automatic mechanism to respond to shocks; Social Security would need a similar mechanism." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Benefits Over a Lifetime: 2013 Update
"These tables update to 2013 previous estimates of the lifetime value of Social Security and Medicare benefits and taxes for typical workers in different generations at various earning levels based on new estimates of the Social Security Actuary.... All amounts are presented in constant 2013 dollars." (Urban Institute)

Intergenerational Equity: Who Should Pay for Past Retirement Promises?
"Once an intergenerational inequity is created, it will be nearly impossible to reverse it in a manner that's equitable to everybody. So what's the solution? The best we can do is require equal sharing by all generations of the burdens inherited from past generations.... [A] presenter at the SOA annual meeting advocated that intergenerational equity should be evaluated holistically by considering more than just governmental retirement programs such as Social Security. Factors that should also be considered include all unfunded entitlement programs, accumulated public debt, the state of infrastructure, human capital such as the education of children, private transfers of wealth and environmental degradation." (CBS MoneyWatch)

Macroeconomic Determinants of Retirement Timing
"[T]he fraction of partially retired workers has risen dramatically [from 1960 through 2010] (from virtually zero to 15 percent for 60-62 year olds), and [the] duration of partial retirement spells has been steadily increasing.... Workers who are partially retired show a differential response to a high unemployment rate: younger workers increase their partial retirement spell, while older workers accelerate their transition to full retirement. We also find that high inflation discourages full-time work and encourages partial and full retirement." (University of Michigan Retirement Research Center)

Estimates of the Potential Insurance Value of Disability Insurance for Individuals with Mental Health Impairments
"[E]ven after controlling for health and demographic characteristics, DI beneficiaries were substantially worse off than rejected applicants in terms of wealth and income. While these rejected applicants with mental illness were worse off than those with physical impairments, our findings suggests that the programs successfully select applicants with the greatest income needs, and that retrenchment could result in significant hardship." (University of Michigan Retirement Research Center)

Has Social Security Redistributed to Whites from People of Color?
"Using Current Population Survey data from 1970 through 1994 ... [the authors] find that for many decades, Social Security redistributed from blacks, Hispanics, and other people of color, to whites. These transfers will likely to continue in future decades.... [F]indings suggest that future reforms that place the burden of Social Security reform solely on younger, more diverse generations may have undesired distributional consequences if the aim of the program is to provide greater relative protections to more vulnerable groups." (Urban Institute)

A Veterans Day Deal for Maximizing Social Security Benefits: One-Day Free Access to Online Planning Tool
"Kiplinger Washington Editors ..., Social Security Solutions and Wells Fargo are partnering to offer one-day free access to an online retirement planning tool for all active-duty and retired military members and their widows or widowers. With this report, military families will get recommended strategies for claiming Social Security and explanations about how the choices affect what they'll get.... The free online tool for military folks will only be available Monday [November 11] at www.socialsecurityforveterans.com." (Michelle Singletary in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)

Chained CPI Would Have Resulted In a Larger COLA Increase for 2014, Not a Smaller One
"If the more accurate chained CPI was used to determine the 2014 cost of living increase, seniors would see a 1.7 percent increase as opposed to this year's increase of 1.5 percent. What does a 1.7 percent increase mean? On average, that is an extra $21.60 each month for seniors to use on groceries, bills and medicine." (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)

Can Expanding Social Security Solve the Retirement Crisis?
"[W]hile conservatives worried about deficits argue for Social Security cuts, a group of progressive economists, policy experts, labor leaders and politicians ... met [recently] to argue not only that Social Security can address retirement inequality -- but that it is by far the most logical available platform for addressing the problem, due to its risk pooling and progressive approach to income distribution.... [T]hese experts made the case that Social Security should be expanded -- not cut." (Reuters)

Employer Plans, IRAs and Retirement Income Provision: Making a Molehill Out of a Mountain
"The evidence that the majority of retirees rely mostly on Social Security benefits dramatically underreports the retirement income provided by employer plans and IRAs, and overstates the role of Social Security. Contrary to popular beliefs, income from private retirement plans is often significant for lower-income retirees as well as the wealthy. An effective U.S. retirement policy cannot be built on faulty measures of retirement income." (Towers Watson)

Retirees to See Minimal Increase in Social Security Payments
"Social Security payments for 63 million retirees and disabled people will rise 1.5% in January, a historically small annual adjustment that will add fuel to the debate over federal spending on retirement benefits. The increase ... would be among the smallest since automatic cost-of-living adjustments started in 1975, and reflects weak inflation." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

[Official Guidance] Social Security Benefits to Rise 1.5 Percent in 2014; Wage Base Increases to $117,000
"The 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 57 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2014.... Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $117,000 from $113,700.... [A]bout 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum." (Social Security Administration)

Social Security's Real Retirement Age Is 70
"Due to increases in Social Security's Delayed Retirement Credit, the effective retirement age is now 70, with monthly benefits reduced for earlier claiming. Benefit levels at 70 appear appropriate given that rising deductions for Medicare and greater benefit taxation have reduced Social Security's net replacement rates. The shift to 70 should be feasible for many workers given increases in lifespans, health, and education. But vulnerable workers forced to claim early will have low benefits and will be particularly harmed by any further cuts. Policymakers need to inform those who can work that 70 is the new retirement age and devise ways to protect those who cannot work." (Alicia H. Munnell, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Text of SSA Description of Fiscal Effects of the 1983 Change in Social Security's Normal Retirement Age (PDF)
"The total effect in current dollar cash flow on the OASDI Trust Funds is about $97 billion for 2000 through 2012 and an additional $451 billion for 2013 through 2023. In present value, the long-range effect of the NRA increase provision through 2087 is $4.7 trillion. The effect is projected to reach 0.5 percent of GDP by 2037, and to be 0.38 percent of GDP for the period 2000 to 2087 as a whole." (U.S. Social Security Administration Office of the Chief Actuary)

[Opinion] AARP's Fuzzy Math on Social Security
"Last year, Social Security paid out almost $715 billion in retirement, survivors and disability benefits. This money supports seniors, but according to AARP the gains don't stop there.... [A recent] report concludes: 'Because of the multiplier effect, every dollar of Social Security paid out translates to almost two dollars in spending in the United States.' Sounds like magic. But what AARP overlooks is the money pulled out of the economy through Social Security payroll taxes to fund these benefits." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

Social Security Raise to Be Among Lowest in Years
"Preliminary figures suggest a benefit increase of roughly 1.5 percent, which would be among the smallest since automatic increases were adopted in 1975 ... The exact size of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, won't be known until the Labor Department releases the inflation report for September. That was supposed to happen [October 16], but the report was delayed indefinitely because of the partial government shutdown." (CNBC)

The Post-65 Shift in Household Income Sources (PDF)
"For the lowest earners, the predominance of a single ... component remains constant -- but they also experience a fundamental shift in income composition in the sense that their primary source of income changes from labor to Social Security. While this suggests that the progressivity of Social Security works as intended, it also shows that the lowest earners are heavily reliant on Social Security. As for upper-income households, the analysis suggests that they should be prepared to make more adjustments, either spending or other lifestyle adjustments, than the bottom-income group as they cross the age 65 threshold." (Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI])

Medicare and Social Security Payroll Taxes and Benefits for People in Different Birth Cohorts
"Over their lifetime, beneficiaries born in the 1940s would, on average, receive about $160,000 in benefits (net of premiums paid) and pay about $45,000 in payroll taxes (both figures are expressed in 2013 dollars). Those born in the 1950s would receive, on average, about $205,000 in benefits and pay about $60,000 in payroll taxes, CBO estimates. And those born in the 1960s would receive, on average, about $270,000 in benefits and pay about $65,000 in payroll taxes." (Congressional Budget Office)

The Social Security Windfall Elimination and Government Pension Offset Provisions for Public Employees in the Health and Retirement Study (PDF)
"About 3.5 percent of households are subject to either [Social Security's Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)] or to [the Government Pension Offset (GPO)].... Households affected by both WEP and GPO lose about one third of their benefit. Limiting the Social Security benefit to half the size of the pension from uncovered employment reduces the penalty from WEP for members of the original HRS cohort by about 60 percent." (University of Michigan Retirement Research Center)

A Timely Reminder: Sign Up for Online Social Security Account
"SSA no longer mails annual benefits estimate statements to workers. As a result, the government saves about $70 million per year in printing and mailing costs. The only way to access the information, which includes estimated retirement, disability and survivor benefit at various ages, as well as annual earnings statements, is to set up an on line account." (InvestmentNews)

Exchanging Delayed Social Security Benefits for Lump Sums: Could This Incentivize Longer Work Careers?
"This paper explores whether allowing people to receive a lump sum as a payment for delayed retirement rather than as an addition to their lifetime Social Security benefits might induce them to work longer.... [The] base case indicates that workers given the chance to receive their delayed retirement credit as a lump sum payment would boost their average retirement age by 1.5-2 years. This will interest policymakers seeking to reform the Social Security system without raising costs or cutting benefits, while enhancing the incentives to delay retirement." (University of Michigan Retirement Research Center)

How People Are Retiring
"In a survey of people 65 to 69: Only the top 10 percent of all households has more in actual financial assets than they have in virtual Social Security wealth.... This means that Social Security provides more income than financial assets provide for a very large majority of Americans. Pensions mean little to most households because most people don't have them. Pension wealth registers at zero for the bottom 70 percent of all single-person households [and] at zero for 60 percent for all married households." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)

GAO Report: Work Activity Indicates Certain Social Security Disability Insurance Payments Were Potentially Improper
"GAO estimates that SSA made $1.29 billion in potential cash benefit overpayments to about 36,000 individuals as of January 2013.... Using a different methodology ... SSA estimated its DI overpayments in fiscal year 2011 were $1.62 billion, or 1.27 percent of all DI benefits in that fiscal year.... The first population received potential overpayments due to work activity during the DI program's mandatory 5-month waiting period ... Earnings that exceed program limits during the waiting period indicate that individuals might not have long-term disabilities. The second population received potential overpayments due to work activity beyond the program's trial work period[.]" (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

[Guidance Overview] Post-Windsor Agency Guidance Means Some Plans Will Need to Apply Multiple Rules
"Since the SSA decided to recognize a same-sex marriage based upon the law of the couple's state of residence at the time of application for Social Security benefits, employers who sponsor defined benefit plans which have benefit forms that coordinate with Social Security benefits ... or other plans such as long term disability benefits which may offset for Social Security benefits, will also need to know the participant's state of residence at the time Social Security benefits were applied for ... to be able to understand and determine the impact of the marital status on the Social Security benefits which will then impact the calculation of the optional benefit form and/or the disability benefit plan offset." (Winstead PC)

[Opinion] Comments of National Academy of Social Insurance to House Ways and Means Committee on Chained CPI and Other Benefit Adjustments (PDF)
"The chained CPI would result in substantial benefit cuts for beneficiaries, especially as they grow older. Older beneficiaries rely more heavily on Social Security than do younger beneficiaries. NASI's public opinion research finds that, given a range of policy options, Americans prefer to gradually raise Social Security taxes and to improve benefits slightly for vulnerable groups." (National Academy of Social Insurance [NASI])

[Official Guidance] Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals of the Same Sex Who Are Married Under State Law (PDF)
"These questions and answers reflect the holdings in Revenue Ruling 2013-17, 2013-38 IRB.... Q10. If an employer provided health coverage for an employee's same-sex spouse and included the value of that coverage in the employee's gross income, can the employee file an amended Form 1040 reflecting the employee's status as a married individual to recover federal income tax paid on the value of the health coverage of the employee's spouse? A10. Yes, for all years for which the period of limitations for filing a claim for refund is open. Generally, a taxpayer may file a claim for refund for three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. If an employer provided health coverage for an employee's same-sex spouse, the employee may claim a refund of income taxes paid on the value of coverage that would have been excluded from income had the employee's spouse been recognized as the employee's legal spouse for tax purposes." (Internal Revenue Service)

Higher Earnings Limit Applies for Social Security Benefits at Age 66
"[A] special one-year rule ... applies to earnings during the first year of retirement.... [A]n individual can get a full Social Security check for any whole month a person is retired, regardless of the yearly earnings prior to claiming benefits. For 2013, a person who is younger than full retirement age for the entire year is considered retired if his or her monthly earnings are $1,260 or less. The monthly limit is 1/12th of the 2013 annual earnings limit of $15,120.... Once that individual reaches full retirement age, the earnings restrictions disappear completely." (InvestmentNews)

Flexible Pension Take-Up in Social Security
"[The authors] consider a change from a payout scheme in which benefits start at the fixed statutory retirement age to a scheme where benefits start at the flexible effective retirement age. This flexible pension take-up is combined with actuarial adjustments of pension benefits for early or late retirement." (Yvonne Adema, Jan Bonenkamp, and A. C. Meijdam, via SSRN)

Social Security -- Modest Expectations, an Important Reality (PDF)
"[W]orkers today are less likely to expect Social Security income in retirement (77 percent) than today's retirees are to report having this income (93 percent). They are also half as likely to expect Social Security to be a major share of their income in retirement (33 percent) as retirees are to say that Social Security is a major share of their income (70 percent)." (Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI))

Social Security Is the Only Reason Most Americans Can Afford to Retire
"Though Americans are increasingly turning to savings in 401(k)-type accounts, Social Security remains the most reliable and equitable system of retirement savings. The expected stream of Social Security benefits for a household at the median is not very much less than for a household in the top 10 percent -- in 2008, the median household age 65-69 had $315,300 of Social Security wealth, while a household at the 90th percentile had $643,100, a little more than twice as much." (Economic Policy Institute)

An Actuarial Perspective on the 2013 Social Security Trustees Report (PDF)
"The trust fund is projected to run out of assets during 2033, and if reform is not implemented by that date, benefits will have to be reduced by about one-fourth thereafter.... The unfunded obligation over the valuation period, as a percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), remained unchanged at 0.9 percent and increased from 2.50 percent to 2.57 percent of taxable earnings over the same period. To eliminate the projected deficit (using best estimate assumptions), some combination of an immediate increase of 2.66 percentage points in the payroll tax rate or an immediate decrease of 16.5 percent of benefits for all current and future beneficiaries is required." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Statement of Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, on Payments to Same-Sex Couples
"Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due.... We continue to work closely with the Department of Justice. In the coming weeks and months, we will develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions. We appreciate the public's patience as we work through the legal issues to ensure that our policy is legally sound and clear." (Social Security Administration)

SSA Describes Pension Plan Participation Among Married Couples
"Because couples usually share income, viewing them as a unit provides a better picture of potential access to income from retirement plans.... We find that in 20 percent of couples, neither spouse participated in a pension plan; in 10 percent, the wife was the only participant; and in 37 percent, the husband was the only participant." (Social Security Administration)

Social Security Income Measurement in Two Surveys (PDF)
"Using Social Security Administration (SSA) records, [this study examines] Social Security income as reported in two Census Bureau surveys, the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and the Current Population Survey (CPS).... [The authors] find that the Social Security benefit recorded in the CPS closely approximates the gross benefit recorded for CPS respondents in SSA's records, but the Social Security benefit recorded in the SIPP more closely approximates SSA's record of net benefit payments (after deducting Medicare premiums)." (Social Security Administration)

[Opinion] Comments by American Academy of Actuaries to House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, on Increasing Social Security Retirement Age (PDF)
"A change to the benefit formula can provide the same amount of benefit as results from increasing the full retirement age, but it sends a far different message to the American worker.... Increasing the early eligibility age has the beneficial result of encouraging most individuals to work longer.... Changing the reduction factors so that they are not actuarially neutral would increase the cost of Social Security and undermine the beneficial aspects of increasing the full retirement age[.]" (Donald E. Fuerst, Senior Pension Fellow, American Academy of Actuaries)

Parsing the Social Security Rules for Spouses
"[B]y waiting until full retirement age, married couples, as well as divorced spouses in some cases, can exercise some creative claiming strategies to maximize lifetime benefits.... [Some have] asked if it is possible for both spouses to file and suspend their benefits or for both spouses to file a restricted claim for spousal benefits only. It is a logical question, but the short answer is no." (Investment News)

[Guidance Overview] Quick Reference Guide for Public Employers, Feb. 2013 Edition (PDF)
24 pages. "This guide is produced annually by the IRS office of Federal, State and Local Governments (FSLG). It is intended to provide a brief introduction to basic Federal employment tax and reporting information issues for governmental employers. For more detailed information in these areas, see IRS Publication 963, Federal-State Reference Guide." The publication's chapter titles are: Compensation; Social Security and Medicare Coverage; Public Retirement Systems; Retirement Plans; Fee-Based Public Officials; Special Situations for Public Workers; Fringe Benefits; Information Reporting; Backup Withholding; Key Dates; Section 218; Social Security Coverage (Flowchart); and Medicare Coverage (Flowchart). (Internal Revenue Service)

[Guidance Overview] Transcript and Video of IRS Phone Forum: 'When is a Government Entity and Their Employees Excluded from Participating in Social Security: FICA Replacement Plans'
"[In this recording of the phone forum, we] discuss those other circumstances Government Employers and Employees don't participate in Social Security; namely FICA replacement plans. We will discuss Revenue Procedure 91-40 that sets forth rules relating to the minimum retirement benefit requirement prescribed under Employment Tax Regulations.... Let's take a look at our decision tree or flow chart for Social Security and Medicare Coverage of State and Local Government Employees. This can also be found in IRS Publication 963 'Federal-State Reference Guide'[.]" (Internal Revenue Service)


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