August 18, 2019

Social Security and Your Retirement Plan

Social Security is part of the retirement plan of almost every American worker. If you’re among the 96 percent of workers covered under Social Security, you should know how the system works. You should also know how much you’ll receive from Social Security when you retire…this basic information on Social Security retirement benefits isn’t intended to answer all questions. For specific information about your situation, talk with a Social Security representative.

How do you qualify for retirement benefits? When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn “credits” toward Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need to get retirement benefits depends on when you were born. If you were born in 1929 or later, you need 40 credits (10 years of work). If you stop working before you have enough credits to qualify for benefits, the credits will remain on your Social Security record. If you return to work later, you can add more credits to qualify. We can’t pay any retirement benefits until you have the required number of credits.

How much will your retirement benefit be? We base your benefit payment on how much you earned during your working career. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. If there were some years you didn’t work or had low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily. The age at which you decide to retire also affects your benefit. If you retire at age 62, the earliest possible Social Security retirement age, your benefit will be lower than if you wait.

You can now easily set up a secure online mySocial Security account. This allows you to access your Social Security Statement to check your earnings and get your benefit estimates. You can also use your online mySocial Security account to request a replacement Social Security number card (available in many states and the District of Columbia). If you receive benefits, you can also: Get your benefit verification letter; Change your address and phone number; Request a replacement Medicare card; Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season; or start or change your direct deposit. You can create a mySocial Security account if you’re age 18 or older, have a Social Security number, a valid U.S. mailing address, and an email address. To create an account, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. You’ll need to provide some personal information to confirm your identity. You’ll be asked to choose a username and password, and then you’ll be asked for your email address. You’ll also need to select how you would like to receive a one-time security code — to a text-enabled cell phone or to the email address you registered — that you will need to enter to finish creating your account. Each time you sign in with your username and password, we will send a one-time security code to your cell phone or to your email address. The security code is part of our enhanced security feature to protect your personal information. Keep in mind that your cell phone provider’s text message and data rates may apply.Get personalized retirement benefit estimates. You can use our online Retirement Estimator to get immediate and personalized retirement benefit estimates to help you plan for your retirement. The online Retirement Estimator is a convenient and secure financial planning tool that eliminates the need to manually key in years of earnings information. The estimator will also let you create “what if” scenarios. You can, for example, change your “stop work” dates or expected future earnings to create and compare different retirement options.For more information, read the publication, Online Retirement Estimator (Publication No. 05-10510), or visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

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See What You Can Do Online During National Social Security Month

In April, we celebrate National Social Security Month by letting you know what you can do online with a my Social Security account. Last month we featured how you can replace a lost or stolen Social Security card, get a copy of your 1099 (SSA-1099), and check the status of your Social Security benefit application or claim. This month we share three more advantages.

If you already receive Social Security benefits, you can set up or change direct deposit information online with a my Social Security account. In most cases, you are required to receive federal benefits electronically, so when you choose direct deposit, we will electronically deposit your funds directly into a bank account. If you do not have a bank account, you can choose Direct Express® and your funds will be electronically deposited into a prepaid debit card account. Direct Express® has no enrollment fee or minimum balance requirement to open or use the account. We strive to provide online services that best suit when, where, and how you do business with us. You can set up direct deposit, or you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Visit our website to learn more about all of our online services.

Do you receive Social Security benefits (retirement, survivors, or disability) or are you enrolled in Medicare and getting ready to move?  You can change your address information online when you create a my Social Security account.

If you already receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you can create a  my Social Security  account and have instant access to your award letter or, as we call it, benefit verification letter.

Please know that securing your identity and personal information is important to us. We protect your information by using strict identity verification and security features. The application process has built-in features to detect fraud and confirm your identity.

Share with friends and family what you can do online with a my Social Security account.

Originally posted on by .

Re-posted by Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray of Consumer Legal Services, LLC.

Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation in Bankruptcy

TO: Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray

FROM: Victoria Estreicher, Paralegal Intern & Guest Blogger

DATE: March 14, 2018

QUESTION OF LAW: Can you keep your personal injury or workers’ compensation settlement safe when filing bankruptcy in the state of Connecticut?

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DISCUSSION: After you receive a settlement from either worker’s compensation or from a personal injury claim, you may be eager to know if you can still keep that money when you are filing for bankruptcy. There is no direct answer because it depends on a wide range of factors. Settlement money is seen as a type of personal property just like your car, your home, or your jewelry. If you happen to receive money from a workers’ compensation settlement after filing for bankruptcy, you can keep that money depending on the type of settlement you received, when your claim or cause of action arose, the exemption laws in your home state, and whether you filed for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. If you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, almost all of the property that you own can become property of the bankruptcy estate. Unless you can fully exempt an asset, the trustee can sell it to pay off your creditors. You must be very careful when filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy because if you do not disclose your settlement to the court, then you are at risk for that money to be taken away from you. It is critical to disclose all of this information when you file a petition to the court for bankruptcy. If you do not disclose this information, you can suffer significant consequences such as not receiving your discharge (dischargeable debts are obligations that can be wiped out by your bankruptcy discharge). You can even put yourself at risk for being charged with fraud and if convicted you can either be fined, sentenced to jail time, or both. Your workers compensation claim may be exempt from bankruptcy depending on where you live because it varies from state to state. Connecticut happens to be one of the states that has an exemption. You will not lose everything when filing for bankruptcy in the State of Connecticut, you have a choice between the federal exemptions or Connecticut’s own exemptions. Be aware that you can only choose one, you may not choose from both lists. Under Connecticut General Statutes §52-352b your worker’s compensation benefits will be protected. Any type of injury claim should also be disclosed when filing for bankruptcy even if you haven’t decided to pursue the claim yet. There is also a wildcard exemption that can be used to claim an exemption to your potential personal injury settlement but it is dependent on how much wildcard there is available. The wildcard allows you to keep assets or property that are not typically exempt under Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions. The current federal wildcard exemption is $13,100.00. When filing for Chapter 7, you must disclose the personal injury case to the bankruptcy court and trustee. Ultimately, you should have this conversation with an attorney in order to determine which set of exemptions, will best suit you to meet your specific goals or financial needs. If you would like to set up a free consultation with Attorney DeGray to discuss your case, please click HERE. Thank you.

This firm is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief amongst other things, under the Bankruptcy Code.