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Talking Social Security with Sheryl Schroeder

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

Speaker 1 (00:00):

Welcome to the Redfish Healthy Wealthy, and Wise Podcast. Our focus is to deliver information that helps you become healthy, wealthy, and wise. This podcast is sponsored by Redfish Capital Management. The views and opinions expressed here and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of SCF Securities Inc. Or any SCF related entity. This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual securities offer through SCF Securities Inc. Member Finra, S I P C. Investment advisory Services offered through scf Investment Advisories Inc. Office at 1 55 East Shaw in Fresno, California, SCF Securities Inc. And Redfish Capital Management are independently owned and operated. SCF is not associated with other podcasts and the messages contained within Brad Murrill and Redfish Capital does not offer legal or tax advice. This material is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified tax advisor or attorney. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. Now for your host, Brad Murrill.

Speaker 2 (01:24):

Hello everybody and welcome back to another episode of The Redfish, Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. I'm Brad Murrill here with Redfish Capital Management. I am super pumped to be joined by Sheryl Schroeder today. Sheryl's the Public affairs, a specialist for the social security or one of the public affairs specialists at the Social Security Administration. She works in the Washington County area, which basically means she covers all of Texas <laugh> and I think she's all, I know y'all are all over the place, but my gosh, you, you guys have been busy and so she is all over the place. She's constantly on the phone and doing podcasts with been learning sessions with various different institutions. So we are real grateful to have you here, Sheryl. I appreciate your time.

Speaker 3 (02:09):

Thanks for having me.

Speaker 2 (02:10):

So let's get, I just wanna get started cuz my listeners, they love the personal stuff. I wanted, We always wanna get to know you. Tell us about you, where you grew up, went to high school, all that good business.

Speaker 3 (02:20):

All right, Well good morning everyone. I grew up in Brenham.

Speaker 2 (02:25):

All right.

Speaker 3 (02:26):

I've lived in Brenham all of my life. The home of Bluebell Ice Cream. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> in Glen Junior College. You bet. I I went to school in Brenham I was Aham Cub Brenham High School. Yeah. I played varsity tennis for them. Oh,

Speaker 2 (02:42):

Good for you.

Speaker 3 (02:43):

After I graduated high school, I went on to college. I was a bear cat at Sam Houston State University,

Speaker 2 (02:52):

That it's all from what I know, everybody that lives in Washington County, y'all all have to go to Texas a and m. I thought that was local law.

Speaker 3 (02:58):

I know. Well, I, yeah, I considered it. I actually, I'm from a family of Aggie and I we're kinda half and half now. Okay. Our, our family has grown since we've been in Texas. We're almost 40 of us. But we're almost having half half Aggies. Half Bearcats, believe it or not, but, Okay, cool. But you're right. Yeah, A and m is a big draw.

Speaker 2 (03:26):


Speaker 3 (03:27):

And earned a bachelor business administration in finance at Sam Houston. My first job outta college was in the mid eighties in the oil industry. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, There's enough said there that didn't last long. You know, the

Speaker 2 (03:45):


Speaker 3 (03:46):

The decline of the oil, oil and gas business in the mid eighties. After couple years in oil and gas, I went to work for several agencies that fall under the umbrella of Texas Department of mhmr. It's now Texas Health and Human Services Commission. How

Speaker 2 (04:06):

Long were you with mhmr? I did, I, This is so odd. Cause I did a lot of work for them also in, in the nineties and putting together some of their retirement plan.

Speaker 3 (04:14):

Almost 14 years.

Speaker 2 (04:16):


Speaker 3 (04:16):

Almost 14 years. Oh,

Speaker 2 (04:18):

That is, that's outstanding. I we can get into that another time, but there were a lot of people who were really hacked off when we hacked that pension down to, I think

Speaker 3 (04:27):


Speaker 2 (04:28):

9%. We took it down to seven, I think it was, Yes. Could increase anyway.

Speaker 3 (04:32):


Speaker 2 (04:33):

Yeah. I was enemy number one with those employees, I think for a little while, for making that recommendation. But we needed to do it for the health of the organization.

Speaker 3 (04:40):


Speaker 2 (04:42):

So you then with, with mhmr

Speaker 3 (04:46):

Spent about 14 years out.

Speaker 2 (04:47):

Outstanding group.

Speaker 3 (04:49):

And I worked on the, the mental, it's, you know, mental health and developmental disabilities, and I worked on the side with adults in the com that lived in the community that had developmental and intellectual challenges, uhhuh. But I did that for about 14 years. And then I've been with the Social Security Administration for 20 on, on next week.

Speaker 2 (05:15):

<Laugh> happy anniversary, 20 years with the Social Security Administration. So when you came into the Social Security Administration, what did you start doing and how did you get to the position that you have today?

Speaker 3 (05:30):

So I was hired, it, it was kind of a fluke. I had put in an application with the Social Security Administration here in Brenham. And they, they advertise at that time. They advertise the positions for like one day <laugh>. Okay. And that was it. I put in an a I put in an application, didn't hear anything on that application, a year pass. And I get a phone call wanting to know if I'm still interested Wow. In a position. And I was like, of course I am. And interviewed, got the job. I was hired as a claim specialist. Okay. Which means that I was after probably we go, we go through almost three months of training. Sure. And after that initial training period, I began taking claims for retirement benefits, for disability benefits for Medicare, for Survivor benefits, the whole, the whole range. The whole thing.

Speaker 2 (06:33):

So you're on the, on the phone with people that are calling in? Is that how that works? Or are they're actually sending you forms and you're going through the forms?

Speaker 3 (06:40):

So neither kind of both <laugh>. So what we did at that time, and, and what we still do is we take appointments for individuals to file for benefits. And we pre, pre pandemic, we took appointments for telephone appointment as well as in office appointments.

Speaker 2 (07:04):

I see.

Speaker 3 (07:05):

Right now we are strongly encouraging all appointments and making all appointments over the phone. Sure. And so you would know, the individual would know the day and time that we would call them. We, we call, we take the application with them over the phone. We ask all of the questions, we fill it out for them online. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, make sure we have all the pieces for the application packet, and then we process it.

Speaker 2 (07:34):

Right, Right. So you were doing that for a certain amount of time and then they said, we need to get you out to the public.

Speaker 3 (07:42):

Yes. Is that okay? So the, for the last 13 years I have been in public relations. I was hired as a public affairs specialist in 2009.

Speaker 2 (07:51):

Okay. And

Speaker 3 (07:52):

So I actually work for the Dallas region of Social Security, the regional office and in, out stationed in Brenham.

Speaker 2 (08:00):

Gotcha. So you're off, you're just out educating people on their options and how to do anything social security related. That's, that is now your career Correct. For the last nine years. Okay. Outstanding. Yeah. Well, one of the things that that we get here at Capital, obviously we get a lot of questions on social security. Yes. And everyone is, is asking us this question, and I'm gonna bet it's the number one question that you get as well, When should I take Social Security? Am am I right? Is that the number one question you get?

Speaker 3 (08:36):

You're exactly right. <Laugh>, you're exactly right.

Speaker 2 (08:39):

Everyone wants to know

Speaker 3 (08:40):

That. Yeah. You tell some of that when I should take it.

Speaker 2 (08:43):

Yeah, let's go into that. Let's talk about when, when you're eligible, how that, how that fluctuates a little bit and how waiting and stuff like that. And then how then us on, on this side is financial planners looking at the sweet spot of when someone needs to start taking it.

Speaker 3 (08:58):

Okay. All right. Well the earliest age at which somebody can draw a social security retirement benefit or a spousal benefit is the age of 62. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, when you draw Social security at the age of 62, you, we, Social security imposes an earnings limit. If you're interested in drawing before full retirement age, there is an earnings limit this year, gross earnings of $19,560.

Speaker 2 (09:32):

So if you earn more than 19,000 in, in whatever, you are not gonna be eligible is what you're saying.

Speaker 3 (09:39):

Well, if you're earning more, depending on how much more you earn. Okay. Social security will withhold one for every $2 that you make over that earnings limit. And we hold that back in Social security benefits and just keep in mind that this is strictly imposed on those folks that are under full retirement age that are considering drawing before full retirement age.

Speaker 2 (10:04):

Okay. And full retirement age, just for our listeners is what?

Speaker 3 (10:08):

So that is changing <laugh>. Okay. That changes as a, as a result of the 1980 amendments. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> full retirement age is gone up for everyone born after 1937. Right. And for folks born 1960 or later they have to reach, that's the oldest full retirement age that we have right now. And that would be the age of 67.

Speaker 2 (10:36):

67. So that's the age now that we're looking at that would be, quote unquote for retirement. So you can, you have your first option at age 62 depending on when you're born. Right.

Speaker 3 (10:46):


Speaker 2 (10:46):

The first option at age 62, that's set up with some earning limits. So then what comes after 60? Is it 62 then 2 67 is the same tran, if you will, or are there differences between

Speaker 3 (10:58):

Okay. So depending on the year you were born.

Speaker 2 (11:01):


Speaker 3 (11:03):

It, that will determine what your full retirement age is. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So you know, right now we're seeing people that were born in 1956. Say for example 19, if you're born in 56, your full retirement age is 66 and four months. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, if you're born in 57 is 66 and a half.

Speaker 2 (11:22):


Speaker 3 (11:24):

59 is 66 and 10 months. So you can see that it goes up depending on your year of birth. Correct. I just gave that 1960 or later as an example, your four retirement ages 67. Right.

Speaker 2 (11:38):


Speaker 3 (11:38):

You do not have to wait, You can wait till 67 at 67, you can draw your full retirement benefit. And the neat thing about being 67 being full retire or your respective full retirement age is, that's the point at which you can begin drawing social security benefits and work and make as much as you want, as long as you want. The earnings limit completely goes away the first day of the month in which you reach full retirement age.

Speaker 2 (12:07):

Okay. It's the first day of the month you reach full retirement age, then you're getting the full amount, no matter how much you work, if you wanna continue to keep working.

Speaker 3 (12:15):

Right. Right,

Speaker 2 (12:16):

Right. And again, we're not talking about what is taxed. We're talking about what is paid.

Speaker 3 (12:20):


Speaker 2 (12:21):

Okay. Right. Okay. And so general, we have to work people up to that particular age. So you find that age and then part of your job, Sheryl, I'm sure, is to help them calculate how much they will be paid. Right. And that's based on the number of credits that they've built up throughout their career.

Speaker 3 (12:37):

Right. So when we work, we pay into social security mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, we pay into the trust fund because we pay those social security taxes and a minimum of about 10 years of work gets a person there, 40 credits. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> people kind of interchangeably call them credits or quarters mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but you need 40 credits or quarters mm-hmm. <Affirmative> in order to be insured for a social security check when you retire mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And the amount of that check is based on your, your work and your earnings. Right. How much you've worked and paid into social Security. So the higher your earnings, the longer you've worked, the higher your social security benefit will be.

Speaker 2 (13:23):

Certainly. Certainly. That makes sense. So then part of, so we, you get to that factor. So a lot of what you're doing, Sheryl, with people I'm assuming, is that you're sitting down with them to go, Okay, we've worked this amount. Here are your credits, here are your quarters, however you wanna call it. Here's the amount that we're calculating based on the date that you choose to quote unquote retire and claim benefits. And so it's a moving, I would think until you get to that full retirement age, that's kind of a moving number, isn't it?

Speaker 3 (13:54):

Most definitely. Yeah. Every, every month that, you know, oftentimes people will think that it's tied to an exact month in which they obtain a certain age. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, and that's not the case at all. It, it changes every month.

Speaker 2 (14:11):

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

Speaker 3 (14:13):

So every month that you delay your social security benefit increases.

Speaker 2 (14:19):


Speaker 3 (14:19):

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention beyond full retirement age. Right. And the ability to let your social security benefits grow. If that's what you choose to do every year, that you, every month that you wait beyond full retirement age, every year that you wait beyond full retirement age, your social security benefit, retirement benefit will grow.

Speaker 2 (14:44):

Yeah. It'll go up quite

Speaker 3 (14:46):

A bit. Growing at the age of 70.

Speaker 2 (14:48):

So really to maximize, for a lack of a better word, the amount that you can get out, if someone were able to wait until age 70, they would be getting the maximum amount available to them. And then at age 70 they have to start taking it.

Speaker 3 (15:08):

They don't have to,

Speaker 2 (15:10):

But why wouldn't we

Speaker 3 (15:11):

At that point? But there would be no advantage to waiting past the age of 70 because it stops growing. Right. You'd start losing money basically. Right. If you didn't take it at 70, you gain about 8% per year that you delay.

Speaker 2 (15:27):

That's a big number. That's, and, and I said from the investment side and, and I tell people when, when I mention that it's about growing at about 8%, that's a big number. So you can imagine if you were to get 8% return on your investments, but it's not, that's on your income. So it's 8% to the income, which is even bigger Right. Number than it would be just on the, the principle amount that you grow. So that, that, that's a substantial amount. If someone can wait,

Speaker 3 (15:56):

Most definitely.

Speaker 2 (15:57):

Yeah. That's a substantial amount. So obviously you sit down with people in the old world before pre covid, you sit down with people now you're on the phone. And so with every individual, the, what they do is they call and make an appointment with the maybe not the public affairs specialist, but the, the person, what's the title of the person?

Speaker 3 (16:21):

They claim specialist.

Speaker 2 (16:23):

Claim specialist. The claim specialist then looks at their individual situation and says, based on what we see, do they then print it out and give it to 'em and so they can have the various dates or

Speaker 3 (16:36):

We do mm-hmm. <Affirmative> you know, obviously when we were sitting down with folks face to face Yeah. You know, we'd have it on paper and have all of their options. But we do that over the phone with them Uhhuh. So, you know, if they've, if they have an appointment scheduled, we have all of their information in advance. So we, the claim specialist would prepare for that appointment by gathering that, that data and that information. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, we know, we know whether they're working pretty much know whether they're working or have worked and the re cuz we've got their work history mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, so we know to have that discussion. If we know their age, we have that discussion about working and drawing benefits before full retirement age. But yes, we would lay out what your benefits would be now if you chose Got it.

Speaker 3 (17:24):

To draw them now mm-hmm. <Affirmative> what your benefits would be at full retirement age, what your benefits would be if you delayed till 70. Okay. We used to kind of discuss the break even with folks and we have, have steer we steered away from that years ago really. Because it is a highly personal decision, you know? Yeah. That, that big question. What's the best time to retire? What's the best, best time to take those benefits? And we try to encourage people rather than asking us to tell them when to take it. You know, look, look at your personal situation. Right. Look at your need for income in retirement. Are you gonna work in retirement? What's your health like, Family longevity, all of those things.

Speaker 2 (18:10):

Yeah. That's where we come in. It seems like that's what we, that's what we do is the break even analysis with a lot of people and look at their particular individual plan. Cause it does, excuse me, it does seem like, and I tell people financial plans are like thumbprints, you know, God gave us individual ones and, and I think their financial plan probably needs to be that way as well. Yes. And so I can see where that would make sense. Well, let me shift a little bit if that's the process for most people, Let's go real briefly into how is that money taxed? Because I know in the past, and it does seem, there are still some people out there that don't know that the social security money can be tax. They think it's all, but I set aside this money, this was my money that the I set aside for the government. Why am I paying in a, they start chirping at me. It's like, I didn't think

Speaker 3 (19:01):

This decision.

Speaker 2 (19:02):

And I'm pretty sure that this decision and doing a little bit of research, 1983 I think was when it first started where they could start taxing up to 50% and then it changed again in 93 to where they can go up to 85%. So I'm gonna let you kind of address that. That's really your wick. But as far as the taxable portion and how that works out, how much of it is gonna be taxed?

Speaker 3 (19:25):

Okay. So it <laugh> I always, and, and I'll, I'll just kind of preface all of this. When we, we tell folks and we, we make sure that they know that we're not the cpa, the tax prepare, the financial advisor. What I like to do is provide them with enough information so that they know that there is a good chance that a portion of their social security benefits may be taxed mm-hmm. <Affirmative> depending on their combined income.

Speaker 2 (20:02):


Speaker 3 (20:05):

Also, you know, taxation is one of those things that we highly recommend they consider when deciding the best time to retire. Because if one of you's working full time, both of yous working full time and you're drawing social security benefits, there's a really good chance you bet your Social security benefits are gonna be taxed. You bet. So the what I like to do is just provide them with the basic information and then refer them to you all to the financial advisor, to the cpa. What we tell folks is we give them the thresholds. You know, we, we tell them the income that gets considered, which is the adjusted gross income plus any non-taxable interest plus half of their social security benefits they receive for the year. Right. That's what they call combined income. Yes. And then depending on how they file that tax return, if they file as an individual or if they file jointly there, there's a very good chance as an individual, if their combined income is over $34,000, that up to 85% of their benefits may be taxed,

Speaker 2 (21:14):

Maybe tax. And that's what I what a lot of our clients have tax free municipal bonds and so they're used to having income that is tax free. And one of the things, they always have to remind them that tax free, even though it's from tax free municipal bonds, that counts towards what the Social Security Administration is looking at as far as your total income is concerned. They're like, Wait a minute, I thought these were tax free bonds. It's triple tax free state, local and, and national. I was like, but not Social Security

Speaker 3 (21:41):

<Laugh>. Oh gosh. It

Speaker 2 (21:44):

Counts, it counts towards the pot. And so it, the amount that you take outta your retirement accounts, your IRAs, your old 401ks, pension money, it all adds in there. And so joint over 34,000 and that number goes up a little bit every year.

Speaker 3 (21:59):

You know, it, I don't think it changed. It's not changed recently. Okay. We don't see that increase every year. Like we do a lot of our thresholds.

Speaker 2 (22:08):

And so that would be an act of Congress. They would need to go in and

Speaker 3 (22:11):

I believe so.

Speaker 2 (22:12):

Assessment. Okay. Yes. And so then if you're making over that amount, then not all of your social security is taxed. Is it up to 85% of the Social security income would then be taxable?

Speaker 3 (22:23):

Maybe Taxable, yes.

Speaker 2 (22:25):

Okay. So that all is important When you're looking at your financial plan, you're looking at the amount of income, obviously having the tax money taken out of there, we need to, you need to address that and you need to know what that is. Yes. And so for individual followers, it's a little bit less, but most of our clients are joint. Now I do know that another set of questions that I get quite often has to do with spousal benefits when someone passes away. So if we can, I want to kind of go into briefly, if you will, Sheryl, just let's hit on the, the, the points of spousal benefits and how much can a person expect to have from their spouses. So the first scenario I'll give you would be the simplest one. You have a married couple and they are at the full retirement age. Well, let's say he is at the full retirement age and she is not, he is taking the full retirement security and he passes away. What does the spouse continue to get?

Speaker 3 (23:33):

Okay. Let me ask you a few questions. Perfect. In your, in your scenario, Right. Are they both currently drawing social security?

Speaker 2 (23:44):

Let's, for this sake say Yes.

Speaker 3 (23:46):

Perfect. Okay. So he, he waited till full retirement age. Yes. To draw his, she chose early retirement on her own.

Speaker 2 (23:54):


Speaker 3 (23:55):

Is that right? We

Speaker 2 (23:56):

Can do

Speaker 3 (23:56):

That way. So in that, in that scenario let's say the husband is the, you said is the one that Preces Yes. Let's say that his full retirement benefit is the larger Okay. Okay. And, and wife took a reduced early retirement on her own mm-hmm. <Affirmative> at the time of his death when it gets reported to Social Security, we would we would encourage the, the surviving spouse to contact social security to make an appointment Yes. To file for those survivor benefits. Yes. And at that time, we would take in application, I'm a, in this scenario, I'm assuming that her full retirement benefit is less than her husband.

Speaker 2 (24:45):


Speaker 3 (24:45):

Yes. Okay. And so at that point, when we take that application, we would entitle her to the additional survivor benefits. And let's say for an example, his full retirement benefit, what he was receiving was $2,000 a month. Okay. Her full retirement benefit was say

Speaker 2 (25:09):


Speaker 3 (25:10):

She took a, a reduced, so it might have been 1250. So she was receiving 1250, he was receiving 2000. Once we would take that application for survivor benefits, what it would look like to her is that she stopped receiving her retirement benefits and she started receiving his.

Speaker 2 (25:33):

Okay. So he, she would then no longer get her 1250 whatever number. We said she's only getting his check for 2000.

Speaker 3 (25:44):

Correct. On our records, what we do is we, we entitled her to both. We, we continue to pay her, her 1250 and we would pay her the extra seven 50 got it. On her husband's record up to the total of a $2,000 a month. But what it looks like to, to the, the general public that they stopped getting their own and they start getting what the deceased was drawing when he passed away.

Speaker 2 (26:10):

See, I didn't know that show I, I I, what I had, and I had thought what you said was in the second of what most people thought, I always thought it was your benefit or the spouses, whichever is higher. That's what I've told people. And apparently I was, and,

Speaker 3 (26:23):

And, and in a nutSheryll, that is what it is.

Speaker 2 (26:26):

Yeah. Right. But, but the, the technicalities of it is the Social Security Administration, they're still paying the spouse and then giving the difference to make it up to what Yes. It would've been. Yes. Got it. So where that starts to change is we do have many clients, Sheryl, who have the older spouse, let's say the, the husband in this case, there's a big age gap between the husband and the wife. So let's say that the wife is not taking social security, the wife is 50, the husband happens to be 67 and he starts taking the social security. How does that differentiate then as far as when the social security would pay out to the surviving spouse? If there's an age difference like that?

Speaker 3 (27:13):

Okay. So, and, and that's one of the really big differences to note between eligibility for retirement or spousal benefits. And we, I kind of use the term spouse, divorce spouse when we're, when we're talking about a life case with mm-hmm. <Affirmative> with all parties living, and then we use the terminology survivor benefits or widow and widowers benefits. Okay. When a party has dis has,

Speaker 2 (27:38):

So in this case would be widow and widower.

Speaker 3 (27:40):

Yes. So, and one of the big differences is that it's not the age of 62 any longer widow widower or what we call survivor benefits can be drawn as early as the age of 60. Right. Okay. And even the age of 50, if the surviving spouse spouses disabled,

Speaker 2 (28:03):

Yes. But is that the full amount that they'd be receiving or the spouses, if they're disabled

Speaker 3 (28:08):

It is not, nor is it the full amount if they take it early. Right. You know, if they take it at 60, it gets reduced. Widows benefits get reduced. Just like retirement, just like spousal benefits. If you take them early, if you take them before full retirement age a disabled widows benefit as well as an age 60 widow or widowers benefit is 71 and a half percent of the deceased full retirement benefit.

Speaker 2 (28:41):

Okay. So then does it go back into that equation of 71% of the deceased versus what she would pull out than whichever it is higher?

Speaker 3 (28:51):

The, that would be a decision. So, you know, we, we hear a lot about, or we have heard in the past a lot about filing strategies. Yes. And I know you're familiar with those where the loopholes have closed Right. For the filing, suspend and all that kind of stuff. So what I like to point out is that they're with, as, as it relates to survivor benefits, that is still the one filing strategy that remains Okay. And, and that's for those individuals that are potentially eligible for their own retirement as well as a survivor benefit, a widow or a widowers benefit where they've had a spouse that's predeceased them. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, that is the only benefit category where a person has the ability to pick and choose mm-hmm. <Affirmative> what benefit they want to draw, at the same time allowing the other benefit to grow. Right. Okay. So yes, they, they would have that ability to look at and see, well, how much would my survivor benefit be at the age of 60 plus the fact that I can draw it two years sooner mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and I may need the income.

Speaker 2 (30:02):


Speaker 3 (30:03):

You know and oftentimes that's the draw toward the, the survivor benefits. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> is the earlier age at which they can be drawn. Right.

Speaker 2 (30:13):

And in this case, you say in this case that was age 60?

Speaker 3 (30:16):


Speaker 2 (30:18):

Unless, unless they're, unless they're disabled than it's age 50.

Speaker 3 (30:20):

Correct. Okay. Correct. Mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And then those folks have that option if they draw the survivor benefit and they draw it at 60 or e or, or whenever they have the option of letting their own retirement grow, you know? Right. And grow until that age of 70 and then flipping, flipping the switch.

Speaker 2 (30:41):

Right. Because then at that time, their own personal, after all that growth may be worth more Correct. Than what the survivor benefit was. And so you can get a bump.

Speaker 3 (30:51):

Yes. Got it. Yeah. So I like to point that out as Yeah. Still a filing strategy that does exist. Sure. also, the survivor benefits don't grow past the person's full retirement age past the beneficiaries full retirement age. They, So if I was eligible for a, a widows benefit on my husband's record uhhuh, I, I would wanna draw it no later than my full retirement age. Cause it, it does not grow, it doesn't turn to delayed retirement credits.

Speaker 2 (31:24):

Right. So you wanna go ahead and take those, right. Yeah. Okay. So then we went through Survivor, but then there's also, I know I do get a lot of case of cases that people ask me about when there was a divorce that took place. So what's the timeframe that people have to be, need to be married in order to claim on the expo's benefit? How much is that, et cetera. And I know there's a lot of different variables involved.

Speaker 3 (31:50):

Yeah. Are we and are we talking survivor benefits here too?

Speaker 2 (31:57):

Let's do first non survivor, then we'll do survivor. How's that? I'm gonna big it hard on you. We're gonna make you work today. <Laugh>.

Speaker 3 (32:05):

So we do have benefits for spouses, uhhuh, and divorced spouses, all parties living. That is a 50% benefit. Got it. 50% of the wage, larger wage earners, full retirement benefit their age. 62 is the minimum age for spousal divorce spousal. The primary difference is when we're talking about spouse and divorce, spouse uhhuh, the additional eligibility criteria you might say if you're a divorce spouse is the duration of marriage. And for a divorced spouse to be eligible, they have to be at the, at the time they file, they have to be unmarried and they have to have had a marriage duration of, of 10 years or more. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we're going to ask for certified copies of the marriage license a divorce decree, and it has, it has to be 10 years of duration for a divorced spouse or a divorced widow mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to be eligible on a, a person's record. Got it. Okay. So duration of marriage. The, the big difference with widows benefits is that a, because I said with a divorced spouse, they had to be unmarried. Yeah. With a divorced widow or even a widow or a divorced widow. A remarriage after the age of 60 does not affect one's ability to draw a survivor benefit on a prior marriage. Okay.

Speaker 2 (33:39):

After the age of 60.

Speaker 3 (33:43):

Yes. I've had some really interesting cases related,

Speaker 2 (33:47):

Cause my brain's going, Sheryl, my brain's going a whole different bunch of different directions. So if someone divorced and remarried Earl, you know, they were married for 10 years, divorced, remarried, Does that affect the first set of social, social security benefits from, from the first spouse?

Speaker 3 (34:07):

So if everybody's living Yes. If everybody's living and they've remarried, they're not eligible for the survivor benefit on marriage number one. Got it. Until a point that that second marriage were to end either by death or divorce.

Speaker 2 (34:23):

Right. So if the second marriage ends is first marriage back on the hook,

Speaker 3 (34:29):

It could be then they can, depending on how long the second marriage lasted or if it ended in death. Right. We would weigh benefits on either one and choose whichever was greater.

Speaker 2 (34:40):

Understood. Understood. So that's, this is where, and for me in my, this is where it gets fun. Yeah, it does. You know, cause I, you know, I'm willing to kinda draw the lines and kind of figure it out and stuff like that.

Speaker 3 (34:50):

Yeah. Let me tell you, you have time for an interesting story. When I was Absolutely. So I had a couple, this was, gosh, we were in our old social security office here in Brenham. So it was at least 10, 10 plus years ago. But I had a couple come in, married, they were married to each other, uhhuh. And the appointment was made for each of them to file for their own retirement benefits. Okay. Okay. So if they're, if they're married and they're wanting to file for retirement, we don't make 'em schedule two different appointments. They came in together. Sure. They sat down across the desk from me and you know, a lot of people think we're nosy when we ask all these questions that the application asks for, but what we're doing is we're we're peeling back the layers and looking for other eligibility,

Speaker 2 (35:39):

You know? Yeah. Trying to find them more money. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (35:42):

So we start asking the questions the husband and the wife and, you know, are you married? Yes. Did you have a prior marriage that ended in death or lasted 10 years or more? Yes. When did the two of you marry? So turns out they both intended to file for their own retirement.

Speaker 2 (36:07):


Speaker 3 (36:08):

They both had a prior marriage that ended in death. So they were both, they were, they were a widow and a widower. Mm-Hmm.

Speaker 2 (36:19):


Speaker 3 (36:20):

And the kicker, they didn't marry each other until they were both past the age of 60.

Speaker 2 (36:29):


Speaker 3 (36:30):

So scrap retirement applications completely, they both could choose to delay their retirement benefits, let them grow

Speaker 2 (36:42):

To age 70.

Speaker 3 (36:44):

Yeah. I took survivor benefit, I took a widow and a widower's application for both of them to draw on their first marriages. Right. Had ended in the death of their spouse. Right. All the while they can, they, they've got income coming in, they can start drawing on these spouses that predeceased them and let their own benefits grow. It was a crazy, That's a neat scenario in

Speaker 2 (37:10):

Front of events. I would think that's a positive situation for them to get to tell 'em that. I'd be like, Hey, congratulations. Guess what, <laugh>? Yeah.

Speaker 3 (37:17):

Yeah. It was kind of cool.

Speaker 2 (37:19):

That's, that is, that is kind of neat and stuff, but I can only imagine you've also had situations that weren't quite as fun and as neat <laugh>.

Speaker 3 (37:25):

Yes. Yes. I yes. I had a gentleman who did not know.

Speaker 2 (37:32):

Yeah. That's where I was thinking,

Speaker 3 (37:33):


Speaker 2 (37:34):

Where I'm going. In my head I'm thinking someone didn't know, and you're probably sitting there squirming going, Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm doing this.

Speaker 3 (37:41):

<Laugh>. Yeah. I think he remarried about six months before his 60th birthday.

Speaker 2 (37:48):

Oh, okay. Well it's all about timing. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (37:52):

That was a fun, happy with me.

Speaker 2 (37:53):

That was a, that was a fun conversation. Wasn't to show It's not your fault. One given the data. Trust me, I get it. You're the one just giving the data, but you're gonna be blamed.

Speaker 3 (38:01):

Yep. Don't kill the messenger

Speaker 2 (38:03):

<Laugh>. I got it. I got it. So that's obviously, it's very, very important. One other issue that I do wanna cover is that, that I think is vital is the whole Medicare issue. And I know that there's parts A, B, and D when it comes to Medicare. So because for us on the financial planning side, that is a massive, massive cost savings for a lot of people to be able to get then the Medicare. Oh, definitely. And it's that gap when you don't have the Medicare that you're having to buy insurance on your own or stay employed. Just to have that insurance can be a big decision maker for many clients. So she, if you will, let's, let's talk about Medicare just kind of briefly. When does that kick in? How much does it, you know, how does that, how does all that work?

Speaker 3 (38:52):

Okay. Well and Brad, you hit the nail on the head that Medicare and health coverage is another one of those things that we tell people, You know, just because you're wanting to quit work doesn't mean that you've got healthcare co. You know, you may wanna quit work at 62 and start drawing that social security retirement, but unless you've got healthcare coverage based on retirement, you know, from your company or the agency that you worked for to get you to bridge that gap, you're not eligible for Medicare until age 65. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So un unlike retirement age, you know, eligibility, the age that you're eligible for Medicare has not changed. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> folks are eligible for Medicare at the age of 65. That enrollment period is what we call the initial enrollment period. And that is the three months before the month of, and the three months after your 65th birthday.

Speaker 2 (39:52):

Three months before. Three months after age 65.

Speaker 3 (39:55):

Yeah. So that's a seven month period. That's your, your initial enrollment period. I encourage everyone to contact Social Security within the three month window prior to turning age 65. Okay.

Speaker 2 (40:10):

Did the ball roll up

Speaker 3 (40:11):

Discuss Yes. And to discuss their personal situation because they may not be working, they may be retired, they may be working full time, full steam ahead, have group health insurance coverage through their work and plan on keeping that for the next five years. But everybody's situation is different when it comes to Medicare as well. I encourage people, even if you're working, contact social security, discuss your situation. We typically encourage everyone to enroll in part A of Medicare uhhuh Part A is your hospitalization part A, if you've worked and paid into Social security is free. Right. You don't pay anything for hospitalization. Social security enrolls does the enrollment in part A and B of Medicare. Part B is what I like to call your doctor coverage. Right. Covers your doctors, your home health, your outpatient services. Part B this year, I believe is costing $170 and 10 cents a month for the average the person of average income, which

Speaker 2 (41:15):

Is a deal when you look at private insurance. Oh my goodness. Oh yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (41:20):

Ok. So if you don't have employer sponsored group health insurance mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and you're not currently working, then we encourage, and, and Medicare encourages enrollment in A and B of Medicare at the age of 65. You can, you can apply for Medicare online through social You can call and schedule an appointment with us. We'll call you, We'll take the Medicare application over the phone. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we do A and B at the age of 65, you're also eligible for Part D of Medicare, which is a prescription drug plan. Right. If you need that, we you do the enrollment in part D on your own at the age of 65 or within that window prior to turning 65. The best resource I can recommend for Part D enrollment is the website. I I do it every year for my mother-in-law for my dad. Yeah. Go to prescription drug plan. It allows you to put in a little bit of your personal information, even the zip code where you live, choose your pharmacy and it will filter through all of the prescription drug plans that are offered by Medicare. And it will bring them up in order of lowest total annual cost. Great. And gives them a star rating and then you choose one that way.

Speaker 2 (42:50):

So when you do that annually, is that annually based on a birth date or is it a calendar G

Speaker 3 (42:56):

One? It is a annual enrollment period offered by Medicare. And it starts every year. I believe it runs from the first or first week in October through around the, about the 7th of December. Right. Okay. It's an annual enrollment period. And you'd be surprised you know, for drug formularies change, premiums change. And so I do that every year for my family members and I've been able to kind of tweak their drug plans, change drug plans and save them quite a bit of money. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (43:31):

It sounds like it's that maybe we just need to put on the calendar for people need to remember Halloween time to do time to do Part D.

Speaker 3 (43:38):

Yes. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (43:39):

Okay. Part D then for Halloween. And that's a, that's a good thing to remember. Cause that does have to be done annually, obviously. And I don't wanna get into it on this particular podcast, there's also been some private insurance that you can get as far as gaps or concerned and helping to pay the difference. That you don't, that you don't pay. But that would be with your insurer if you wanted to do that. The last thing that I wanted to ask you, Sheryl, what is the best on the appointment process? So if people want to contact Social Security to set up an appointment, to start talking and just ask questions, What is the best route for people to take?

Speaker 3 (44:18):

I strongly recommend that they make a phone call. Okay. To us, we have a national toll free number 1 807 7 2 1 2 1 3. That is to our teleservice centers across the nation. But I can also give you information on how to lo how to find your local office. And you do that by going, also going to social Right. Slash locator

Speaker 2 (44:47):


Speaker 3 (44:48):

Locator. And that will take you to a link where you just put in your zip code and it will bring up all of the information, the physical address, the mailing address, the fax number, the phone number for your local social security office. You I will also let you know that you are not tied to doing business with your local office if you really Right. <Laugh>.

Speaker 2 (45:16):

That's odd.

Speaker 3 (45:18):

You we, we, now that we're in the age of doing mainly telephone appointments, Uhhuh <affirmative>. Yes. We're gonna, you know, we're going to make you an appointment with your servicing office if at all possible. When we were doing in office appointments as well as telephone, you, you could actually travel to any social security office you wanted to be seen at.

Speaker 2 (45:46):


Speaker 3 (45:46):

We encourage your local office, but it's not required.

Speaker 2 (45:50):

I got, I got So go to website and then put in the location and then you'll find and then make an appointment

Speaker 3 (45:58):

To make an appointment to speak with

Speaker 2 (46:00):

One at that office.

Speaker 3 (46:02):

Yeah. And of course, go ahead. You know, the best way to file those applic, the, the, the, the way to get the application filed the quickest and the most efficiently is online.

Speaker 2 (46:15):


Speaker 3 (46:16):

You know, retirement, Medicare disability, social file for retirement gets it done. You can do it in the comfort of your home or your office in probably 15 minutes or less and get it submitted. But if you're not,

Speaker 2 (46:31):

That's the first part. But yeah. But then the, I'm such a big proponent of talking with people. Yes. And then get on the phone, make an appointment so you can talk with another human being and give 'em different scenarios. Cuz that's y'alls job or their job when you, they receive those calls, is to walk through these different scenarios so that you can then think about what's, you do the best situation for you. Because going back to the old thumbprint, we're all different and we all have different situations. And I think one of the great things about the Social Security Administration is they will actually work with you, but you have to have, you have to make the time to do that. They're not just gonna call you one particular day and Hey, do you wanna have a conversation?

Speaker 3 (47:13):

Yeah. We, you wouldn't believe we've gotten calls. They're like, why didn't call me when I was 65?

Speaker 2 (47:19):

Right, Right.

Speaker 3 (47:21):

We can call everybody, you know, we have people sitting around just waiting to call, watching dates of Yeah. One thing I will also point out that I think is important is that social security, the appointments that we do have are limited. And so we reserve the appointments for folks that are within that three month window and ready to file the application.

Speaker 2 (47:50):


Speaker 3 (47:50):

If you, you know, if you're just informa, if you're outside that three month window and you, you're just information gathering. Yes. Still, still call us, you know mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, go online figure, find out what you can online, but still call the Social security office, call your local office and talk with someone. We, we've never closed our phone lines through the pandemic. We've got people in the, in all of the offices answering the phone all day long. And we are willing to talk about, get your information, talk about the different scenarios that are available to you, but the, as far as end up an actual appointment and scheduling an appointment, those are reserved for folks that are ready to file that application.

Speaker 2 (48:35):

Right, Right. But it, it just, So as you were going back, as you were saying, just reach out. Yes. And Paul, Yes. Sheryl, this has been very information. This has been fantastic. And I wanted to

Speaker 2 (48:47):

For taking the time. I know you do this a lot and you do this with a lot of different people. And so carving out a little time for here for the Redfish, Healthy Wealthy, and Wise Podcast means a lot to me. I appreciate it. And for the listeners out there, I hope this has been information for you as well. If you have further questions, you wanna talk about what you've heard on the podcast, give us a call here at Capital. We're most likely gonna refer you to someone just like Sheryl. That'll be the easiest way. But we could also be that first phone call. We'd love to hear from you. Thank you everybody. Look forward to talking to you again soon.


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