You know how, after you’ve put your kids through college and they go off on their own, sometimes you don’t hear from them as often as you’d like? Major things occur in your kids’ lives and you don’t know about them until after the fact, possibly long after. So you get onto them about it, and ask the kids to call more often (or you call them more often) so that you can keep up with what’s going on…
It’s kinda like that with the Social Security. They want to know when major changes occur in your life, as soon as possible. This is primarily due to the fact that, quite often, these changes will result in adjustment to your Social Security benefits.
The first one that comes to mind is the death of a Social Security recipient. Naturally you need to notify the Social Security Administration as soon as possible upon the death of a recipient. The benefit that the deceased recipient was receiving might transfer to his or her spouse if the rules allow. Otherwise, the benefit will cease for that recipient, and other benefits may begin for dependents of the recently deceased.
If you are receiving Social Security benefits and you get married (or re-marry, either after the death of a spouse or after a divorce), it’s important to let the SSA know about your change of marital status. This is because your marital status may have an impact on any benefits that you are receiving that are based on a former spouse’s record. In addition, a new marriage could result in new dependents for you, and so your new dependents could be eligible for benefits based on your record.
In addition to death and marriage, SSA also wants to know if you are earning more than the allowable limits if you’re less than Full Retirement Age. This is because a portion of your benefit will be withheld due to the additional earnings. You can’t escape it, they’ll eventually figure this out and possibly ask for repayment. Plus, if you’re receiving a pension from a non-SS covered job, you need to let SSA know about it so that your benefit is adjusted for WEP or GPO if either of those factors apply to your situation.
Obviously you need to let SSA know if your name or address changes and if your direct deposit account changes – you need to make sure that you will continue to receive your benefits and that important notices make them to you in the mail.
If your change of address includes an extended stay outside of the United States, you need to let SSA know about it. You should also know that there are some countries that Social Security can’t send payments to – Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam. Otherwise, you can have payments sent to you if you’re living in another country, but you’ll need to arrange this with Social Security.A Social Security Owner's Manual, 2013 Edition, can be purchased by clicking this link. If you'd prefer the Kindle version (and let's face it, ALL the cool kids do!), you can find that at this Kindle version link.