Volume 7 Issue 26a_Sun Bay Paper

Social Security and Protective Filing Dates This is going to be a column about a special procedure that the Social Security Administration routinely uses that is intended to help people by protecting their rights to possible benefits. It's called a "protective filing date." In a nutshell, if you contact the SSA and tell them you intend to file for some kind of Social Security benefit, and give them your name and Social Security number, it establishes a record that could possibly be used as a starting date for any Social Security application you might file later on. However, that protective date is usually good for only six months. The best way to explain this procedure in more detail is by answering some questions I got from readers about this issue. Q: My wife recently signed up for Social Security. She wanted her benefits to start in June, when she will be 65 years old. But then the Social Security rep got her all confused because he said their records showed that my wife called them back in January. And he said because she did that, she has to start her benefits in January at a lesser rate that what she would have been due had she been allowed to start her benefits in June as she wanted. She got so confused that she just hung up and ended the call. Now we don't know what to do. Can you help us? A: I've got a hunch your wife misunderstood what the SSA rep was telling her. Or possibly he just didn't do a very good job of explaining the situation. When your wife called the Social Security people back in January, they established a "protective filing date" of January for her. And that simply means that if at some point within the next six months she decided to actually file for benefits, she could start those benefits in January if she wanted to. It did not mean that she must start those benefits in January. So, if your wife wants her benefits to start in June at age 65, she can have them start in June. It's just that she could decide to have them start in January if she wanted to. If she did that, she'd get about 3% less per month in ongoing benefits, but on the other hand, she would get a big back pay check. Q: I've got a friend who is 64 years old, and she recently started her retirement benefits. She told me she got a check for retroactive benefits. But I knew from reading your column and book that retroactive benefits can only be paid to people who have reached their full retirement age or older. So, I told her this couldn't be, since she was only 64 years old. But she showed me her bank statement, and sure enough, there was a Social Security deposit for about $8,000 in back pay benefits. So how did that happen? A: It all has to do with this protective filing date business. You are right that normally you can only get retroactive benefits if you are past your full retirement age. Or to put that another way, the law says that no retroactive benefits can be made if it involves the payment of reduced retirement benefits. I will bet my next Social Security check that this friend of yours contacted the SSA a number of months before she finally decided to file for benefits. And when she did actually sign on the dotted line, they used that protected date as her filing date. So that's why she got the back pay check. And even though she got that back pay check, it technically was not a retroactive payment. In other words, on Social Security's books, it's as if she actually filed her claim on that past protective date. Q: I will reach my full retirement age in two months. I'm still not sure if I want to file for my Social Security to start then or wait until I'm 70. I recently got a letter from the Social Security people telling me that if I don't file for benefits by the end of this month, I will lose any retroactive benefits I might be due. I called the SSA immediately and a rep told me something about a "protected date" because I called them last November asking some questions. Now I'm all confused. What's this all about? A: When you called them in November, that set up a "protective filing date" of November. And because those dates are good for six months, the letter you got was simply informing you that you have another month to decide if you want to use November as a possible starting month for your benefits. But it sounds like you don't want to do that. You said you want your benefits to begin either when you reach your full retirement age, or at age 70. I can understand why that letter confused you. But again, it really was just protecting your rights to those past benefits. But you don't want them, so just ignore that letter you got. Tom Margenau The Sun Bay Paper Page 12 April 8, 2022 - April 14, 2022 Bicycles and I are not friends. We have a mutual understanding: If I don't get on one, one won't kill me. So when I moved across the country, I was shocked to find a bicycle in the moving truck along with my old dresser and beanbag chair. I demanded an explanation from my mom, who simply said, "One sunny day, you may wish you had one." How could it be that my own mother, my own flesh and blood, could know me so little? I had been on a bike only twice in 15 years. Both times, I fell off, hit my head, blacked out and woke up with a broken body and a concussion. And now here it was again, my mortal enemy, staring me down at my very own doorstep. It had followed me across the country. It could find me anywhere. I kept the pink shiny beast chained up outside. Sometimes when I walked past, I swear the bike would call out to me: "I am your friend. Don't you think I'm pretty?" But I stayed strong. "I will not give in to you, Bicycle! You will not best me!" Then it happened. The day my mom had forewarned. Last week, a bright and beautiful sunny day cut through the clouds and cold that had plagued my neighborhood. Sun lovers took to the streets, moving swiftly on anything with wheels -- skateboards, scooters and bikes. I looked over at my old foe, the two-wheeled temptress, chained up, looking sad. And I thought, I don't want to be one of those people who live in fear, do I? I broke the peace treaty. I unchained the bike. Running my hands over the handlebars, I pleaded, "Please, please. No injuries. No falling. Please." And my pretty bike acquiesced to my request. I did not fall. But a true nemesis always has a trick up its sleeve. I should have known never to trust a Trojan horse, or, in my case, a Huffy. I hit the streets of my neighborhood. I was shaky. As I slowly swerved from side to side, a line of cars formed behind me. I waved my arm, signaling for them to go around, but there wasn't enough room, and I knew that. Then the honking began. I had to take to the sidewalk, the scary sidewalk, where roots had jutted up slabs of concrete and any number of atrocities could be waiting to bring me to my knees. Terrified, I looked around for hope, for a sign I was meant to continue on this fear-facing journey. And that's when I saw my bicycle guru. A young boy, about 7 years old, zigzagged his way down the jagged sidewalk. This kid knew these streets. He knew how to ride, how to survive. It was magnificent. I pedaled behind him, giving him a friendly wave hello when he looked to see who was on his tail. I mimicked the kid's movements down the streets of our neighborhood, delighting in how well I was doing. No longer having to worry about the sidewalk perils underwheel, I was able to work just on my riding. Not to brag or anything, but I was doing awesome! The kid pedaled faster and faster, down the neighborhood streets and into a cul-de-sac. I followed, thrilled I could ride fast enough to keep up with my new buddy. That's when he rode up a driveway, threw his bike down and ran into the house screaming, "Mom!" How could I be so stupid? I never had considered that my riding lesson could look like a two-wheeled kidnapping attempt to my bike guru! My brain flooded. Fight or flight? Fight or flight? Maybe I could calmly explain to bike guru's mom that I, a fully grown adult, am afraid of riding my bike. No, no, that sounds ridiculous. I should run. But then I'd look guilty. What to do? I chose flight. I rode back to my place, quickly chained up the enemy and ran inside my house, locking the doors, afraid to show my face. Mortified. I think it's time I call Goodwill to schedule a pickup. The bike knows too much. Katiedid Langrock Riding a Bike: It's Not for Everyone