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Old 01-23-2007, 02:52 PM   #1
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Retirees up against debt

Retirees up against debt
By Kathy Chu, USA TODAY
Across the nation, seniors are becoming the face of the indebted.

In Austin, Ronald and Carol Godwin, 65 and 63, depleted their savings years ago and have since turned to credit cards and home equity to pay medical bills. They're struggling in retirement to pay off loans they took out years ago for a grandchild's college education.

In Scott Depot, W.Va., Carl Brown, 68, has an impossible decision to make every month because his Social Security check usually doesn't cover all of his mortgage, utility, food and medical costs.

"I know there's no way for people to believe this, but there are times when I get my Social Security check and just send everybody I owe $15 to $20," says Brown, a widower who has suffered a heart attack and stroke. "There are times when I can't buy groceries or medicine."

Retirement used to be a time for people to enjoy life without a mortgage or high credit card bills, a time when heavy debts were mostly a thing of the past. Increasingly, that's no longer true. Some seniors are taking on debt in retirement to fund a trip they've always wanted to take. But a growing number are in debt because they have no choice, according to debt counselors and a growing body of research.

Soaring health care costs are hitting seniors at a time when more employers are cutting back on retiree medical and pension benefits. People are living longer. Yet many seniors subsist on fixed incomes and have little means to boost their incomes. For them, debt provides a temporary " and often costly " reprieve from unexpected expenses.

From 1992 to 2004, the percentage of households 55 and older with overall debt grew faster than the rate of the overall population. Those 75 and older packed it on most quickly: The average load for those households with debt shot up 160% to an average of $20,234 during this time, according to research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a non-partisan group that studies economic security.

Among households 65 and older, the average amount of credit card debt more than doubled from 1992 to 2004, to $4,907, according to Demos, a New York think tank. Seniors' debt levels are catching up to those of younger people.

Seniors in and approaching retirement " such as the oldest baby boomers " are carrying "debt loads that their parents would not have considered," says Sally Hurme of AARP, the advocacy group for people 50 and older. "This does not bode well for financial health."

Unmanageable debt is forcing some older people to delay retirement. It's nudging others already out of the workforce back in. And it's causing a record number of seniors to seek bankruptcy-court protection.

Seniors 65 and older represent the fastest-growing group seeking bankruptcy protection, though they made up only 5% of all bankruptcy filers as of 2001, the last year for which figures are available, according to research by Deborah Thorne, assistant professor at Ohio University; Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor; and Teresa Sullivan, a former professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

As the first wave of the 79 million baby boomers begins retiring, debt problems are likely to swell. "People are having their cycle of expenses later in life," because they're postponing marriage and children, says Deanne Loonin, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. "They're resolving expenses later."

Mary Alice Jackson, an elder-law attorney in Sarasota, Fla., says, "We're at the tip of the iceberg. This generation will have no problem at all racking up debt and worrying about it later."

Seniors' debt levels began surging in the 1990s as health care, housing and energy costs soared. Their incomes failed to keep up with higher consumer prices.

The booming stock market of the late 1990s offset higher prices by boosting most investors' wealth on paper. But seniors didn't benefit as much because most of their assets were in conservative investments, such as bonds and certificates of deposit.

Fixed incomes

Complicating matters is that many seniors live on fixed incomes. One illness or disability can plunge them into crushing debt. Retirees "don't always have the ability to say, 'I'll work harder, I'll work more,' " if they need more money in retirement, says Howard Krooks, an elder-law attorney in Boca Raton, Fla.

Seniors such as Irvin Towson, 84, find themselves needing a job to pay off debt. Towson, of Goldsboro, N.C., was laid off as a fire-department fundraiser in 2005 after having a heart attack and a stroke. For about a year, he's been unable to pay the minimum on about $15,000 in credit card bills. "They send you credit cards in the mail, and you take them and use them because you don't have any idea that you're going to get sick one day," Towson says. "I had no plans to retire. I was going to go as long as I could."

Card debt is one of the top reasons seniors seek bankruptcy protection, according to an analysis of bankruptcy filings in central Florida by professor Rebecca Morgan and associate dean Theresa Pulley Radwan of Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. "We've heard anecdotes of individuals who would get a credit card offer in the mail and didn't understand that when you have a credit card, you have to pay it back with interest," Morgan says.

Those seniors who are less accustomed to spending on plastic are more vulnerable to falling into a cycle of card debt, fed by rising interest rates and late fees, says Loonin of the consumer law center.

The good news is that fewer older people live in poverty compared with other age groups, largely because of Social Security benefits, experts say. But as baby boomers retire, that may change because of "the combination of higher debt levels and the (possible) erosion of this safety net," Loonin notes.

Gail Storer, 58, and her husband, Donald, 61, left the workforce early because of disabilities. Now, they live on Social Security payments of $1,800 a month. They also receive Medicare because they've both been disabled for more than 24 months. But it's not enough to cover expenses related to Gail's breast cancer and Donald's lung disease.

That's why in 2005 the couple began turning to payday loans " month-long loans with interest rates that work out to a heart-stopping 180% or more annually " to pay rent, car repairs and health costs. The Storers, of Smithfield, Va., owe $4,255 on 12 payday loans. They just want to get themselves out of what they call a "vicious merry-go-round" of debt. So they're talking to financial experts about how to get rid of the debt.

"I say to people all the time, 'Our golden years have a lot of rust on them,' " says Gail. "Major health problems put a dark cloud on what were supposed to be these great years of our lives."

Tommie Nell Hettick, 74, didn't expect to be saddled with credit card debt in retirement. Nor did she figure on being unable to afford to maintain a car or to visit her three kids " who are spread around the country " whenever she wants.

"I had the impression I'd do more" in retirement, says Hettick, who lives on $1,100 a month from a pension and Social Security. With her limited income, "If I have to visit someone, I can't do it. I had to give up the car because it costs so much in insurance."

After breaking her arm, dislocating her hip and hurting her back in recent years, Hettick used credit cards to pay for medical costs not covered by insurance. The debt " accruing at rates of 20% to 30% " eventually became too much to handle, prompting her to seek help last year from a credit counseling agency. She owes more than $6,000 in card debt and pays $200 a month, aiming to erase the debt in three years or so.

"It hit me all of a sudden that I was never going to get it paid off" because of the high interest rates, says Hettick of West Palm Beach, Fla. "I don't have 30 more years." She doesn't ask her kids for help, she adds, because of what she calls "old Southern pride" and the desire to "stand on my own two feet."

Yet Krooks, the elder-law attorney, says roughly half the seniors he counsels receive financial help from their adult children.

Getting help

Across the USA, a rising number of seniors like Hettick are flocking to counselors for help with debt. David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, says he's noticed a "major uptick" in older clients seeking counseling. The trend is most pronounced in states such as Florida and West Virginia, which have the highest proportions of residents 65 and older.

Cathy McConnell of West Virginia Senior Legal Aid says seniors' "unbelievably easy access to credit" makes it all too easy for them to topple into debt. Surging health care costs are also causing more seniors to turn to credit cards as a safety net, experts say.

"The biggest complaint I hear is, 'I pay and pay and pay every month, and my debt doesn't go down much' " because of high interest rates and a slew of penalty fees, McConnell says.

In desperation, some seniors will pay off their bills at the expense of their health and well-being. In Scott Depot, W.Va., Brown says he often makes monthly payments toward his $8,000 in medical bills, $5,000 in credit card debt and $78,000 in mortgage debt before buying groceries or medicine because, "My word is my bond. You tell someone you're going to do something, you're going to do it."

On Jan. 3, Brown received his monthly Social Security check of $1,100. Two days later, after paying bills, he had $24 left to buy food " less than $1 a day to get him through the month.

Homes at risk

Amid the soaring housing market of recent years, those 55 and older, like others, have piled up record amounts of mortgage debt. They've refinanced their homes and cashed out equity. They've also turned to reverse mortgages, borrowing from home equity to receive a stream of income. From 1992 to 2004, the percentage of households 55 or older with housing debt rose to 36% from 24%, the Employee Benefit Research Institute found. The median amount of mortgage debt rose 63% during this time, to $60,000.

Rising mortgage debt poses a serious threat to seniors' financial well-being, says Craig Copeland of the research institute, because they're "putting at risk their most important asset, their home."

Worse, a growing number of seniors with mortgage debt also carry credit card debt, says Loonin of the National Consumer Law Center. "The two are interconnected, because if you're taking on more debt because you're short of cash, then you're going to be taking on both kinds of debt."

Some seniors use one creditor to pay off another. This strategy becomes especially dangerous if seniors tap out all their lines of credit, debt counselors say.

Over the past decade, the Godwins of Austin used credit cards to pay off about $140,000 in medical bills that insurance didn't cover. The bills piled up after Ronald Godwin lost most of his vision in the late 1990s and Carol Godwin was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. As interest rates on the cards jumped, the Godwins moved into a smaller house. Then they refinanced the house to pay off credit card bills. Now, they're crossing their fingers that they won't have more unexpected health costs.

"I didn't expect all this (debt)" in retirement, Ronald says. "I had saved money, but it just seemed like it went away overnight."
Posted 1/22/2007 11:43 PM ET

http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/...t_x.htm?csp=34
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Old 01-23-2007, 02:52 PM   #2
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Retirees up against debt

Retirees up against debt
By Kathy Chu, USA TODAY
Across the nation, seniors are becoming the face of the indebted.

In Austin, Ronald and Carol Godwin, 65 and 63, depleted their savings years ago and have since turned to credit cards and home equity to pay medical bills. They're struggling in retirement to pay off loans they took out years ago for a grandchild's college education.

In Scott Depot, W.Va., Carl Brown, 68, has an impossible decision to make every month because his Social Security check usually doesn't cover all of his mortgage, utility, food and medical costs.

"I know there's no way for people to believe this, but there are times when I get my Social Security check and just send everybody I owe $15 to $20," says Brown, a widower who has suffered a heart attack and stroke. "There are times when I can't buy groceries or medicine."

Retirement used to be a time for people to enjoy life without a mortgage or high credit card bills, a time when heavy debts were mostly a thing of the past. Increasingly, that's no longer true. Some seniors are taking on debt in retirement to fund a trip they've always wanted to take. But a growing number are in debt because they have no choice, according to debt counselors and a growing body of research.

Soaring health care costs are hitting seniors at a time when more employers are cutting back on retiree medical and pension benefits. People are living longer. Yet many seniors subsist on fixed incomes and have little means to boost their incomes. For them, debt provides a temporary " and often costly " reprieve from unexpected expenses.

From 1992 to 2004, the percentage of households 55 and older with overall debt grew faster than the rate of the overall population. Those 75 and older packed it on most quickly: The average load for those households with debt shot up 160% to an average of $20,234 during this time, according to research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a non-partisan group that studies economic security.

Among households 65 and older, the average amount of credit card debt more than doubled from 1992 to 2004, to $4,907, according to Demos, a New York think tank. Seniors' debt levels are catching up to those of younger people.

Seniors in and approaching retirement " such as the oldest baby boomers " are carrying "debt loads that their parents would not have considered," says Sally Hurme of AARP, the advocacy group for people 50 and older. "This does not bode well for financial health."

Unmanageable debt is forcing some older people to delay retirement. It's nudging others already out of the workforce back in. And it's causing a record number of seniors to seek bankruptcy-court protection.

Seniors 65 and older represent the fastest-growing group seeking bankruptcy protection, though they made up only 5% of all bankruptcy filers as of 2001, the last year for which figures are available, according to research by Deborah Thorne, assistant professor at Ohio University; Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor; and Teresa Sullivan, a former professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

As the first wave of the 79 million baby boomers begins retiring, debt problems are likely to swell. "People are having their cycle of expenses later in life," because they're postponing marriage and children, says Deanne Loonin, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. "They're resolving expenses later."

Mary Alice Jackson, an elder-law attorney in Sarasota, Fla., says, "We're at the tip of the iceberg. This generation will have no problem at all racking up debt and worrying about it later."

Seniors' debt levels began surging in the 1990s as health care, housing and energy costs soared. Their incomes failed to keep up with higher consumer prices.

The booming stock market of the late 1990s offset higher prices by boosting most investors' wealth on paper. But seniors didn't benefit as much because most of their assets were in conservative investments, such as bonds and certificates of deposit.

Fixed incomes

Complicating matters is that many seniors live on fixed incomes. One illness or disability can plunge them into crushing debt. Retirees "don't always have the ability to say, 'I'll work harder, I'll work more,' " if they need more money in retirement, says Howard Krooks, an elder-law attorney in Boca Raton, Fla.

Seniors such as Irvin Towson, 84, find themselves needing a job to pay off debt. Towson, of Goldsboro, N.C., was laid off as a fire-department fundraiser in 2005 after having a heart attack and a stroke. For about a year, he's been unable to pay the minimum on about $15,000 in credit card bills. "They send you credit cards in the mail, and you take them and use them because you don't have any idea that you're going to get sick one day," Towson says. "I had no plans to retire. I was going to go as long as I could."

Card debt is one of the top reasons seniors seek bankruptcy protection, according to an analysis of bankruptcy filings in central Florida by professor Rebecca Morgan and associate dean Theresa Pulley Radwan of Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. "We've heard anecdotes of individuals who would get a credit card offer in the mail and didn't understand that when you have a credit card, you have to pay it back with interest," Morgan says.

Those seniors who are less accustomed to spending on plastic are more vulnerable to falling into a cycle of card debt, fed by rising interest rates and late fees, says Loonin of the consumer law center.

The good news is that fewer older people live in poverty compared with other age groups, largely because of Social Security benefits, experts say. But as baby boomers retire, that may change because of "the combination of higher debt levels and the (possible) erosion of this safety net," Loonin notes.

Gail Storer, 58, and her husband, Donald, 61, left the workforce early because of disabilities. Now, they live on Social Security payments of $1,800 a month. They also receive Medicare because they've both been disabled for more than 24 months. But it's not enough to cover expenses related to Gail's breast cancer and Donald's lung disease.

That's why in 2005 the couple began turning to payday loans " month-long loans with interest rates that work out to a heart-stopping 180% or more annually " to pay rent, car repairs and health costs. The Storers, of Smithfield, Va., owe $4,255 on 12 payday loans. They just want to get themselves out of what they call a "vicious merry-go-round" of debt. So they're talking to financial experts about how to get rid of the debt.

"I say to people all the time, 'Our golden years have a lot of rust on them,' " says Gail. "Major health problems put a dark cloud on what were supposed to be these great years of our lives."

Tommie Nell Hettick, 74, didn't expect to be saddled with credit card debt in retirement. Nor did she figure on being unable to afford to maintain a car or to visit her three kids " who are spread around the country " whenever she wants.

"I had the impression I'd do more" in retirement, says Hettick, who lives on $1,100 a month from a pension and Social Security. With her limited income, "If I have to visit someone, I can't do it. I had to give up the car because it costs so much in insurance."

After breaking her arm, dislocating her hip and hurting her back in recent years, Hettick used credit cards to pay for medical costs not covered by insurance. The debt " accruing at rates of 20% to 30% " eventually became too much to handle, prompting her to seek help last year from a credit counseling agency. She owes more than $6,000 in card debt and pays $200 a month, aiming to erase the debt in three years or so.

"It hit me all of a sudden that I was never going to get it paid off" because of the high interest rates, says Hettick of West Palm Beach, Fla. "I don't have 30 more years." She doesn't ask her kids for help, she adds, because of what she calls "old Southern pride" and the desire to "stand on my own two feet."

Yet Krooks, the elder-law attorney, says roughly half the seniors he counsels receive financial help from their adult children.

Getting help

Across the USA, a rising number of seniors like Hettick are flocking to counselors for help with debt. David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, says he's noticed a "major uptick" in older clients seeking counseling. The trend is most pronounced in states such as Florida and West Virginia, which have the highest proportions of residents 65 and older.

Cathy McConnell of West Virginia Senior Legal Aid says seniors' "unbelievably easy access to credit" makes it all too easy for them to topple into debt. Surging health care costs are also causing more seniors to turn to credit cards as a safety net, experts say.

"The biggest complaint I hear is, 'I pay and pay and pay every month, and my debt doesn't go down much' " because of high interest rates and a slew of penalty fees, McConnell says.

In desperation, some seniors will pay off their bills at the expense of their health and well-being. In Scott Depot, W.Va., Brown says he often makes monthly payments toward his $8,000 in medical bills, $5,000 in credit card debt and $78,000 in mortgage debt before buying groceries or medicine because, "My word is my bond. You tell someone you're going to do something, you're going to do it."

On Jan. 3, Brown received his monthly Social Security check of $1,100. Two days later, after paying bills, he had $24 left to buy food " less than $1 a day to get him through the month.

Homes at risk

Amid the soaring housing market of recent years, those 55 and older, like others, have piled up record amounts of mortgage debt. They've refinanced their homes and cashed out equity. They've also turned to reverse mortgages, borrowing from home equity to receive a stream of income. From 1992 to 2004, the percentage of households 55 or older with housing debt rose to 36% from 24%, the Employee Benefit Research Institute found. The median amount of mortgage debt rose 63% during this time, to $60,000.

Rising mortgage debt poses a serious threat to seniors' financial well-being, says Craig Copeland of the research institute, because they're "putting at risk their most important asset, their home."

Worse, a growing number of seniors with mortgage debt also carry credit card debt, says Loonin of the National Consumer Law Center. "The two are interconnected, because if you're taking on more debt because you're short of cash, then you're going to be taking on both kinds of debt."

Some seniors use one creditor to pay off another. This strategy becomes especially dangerous if seniors tap out all their lines of credit, debt counselors say.

Over the past decade, the Godwins of Austin used credit cards to pay off about $140,000 in medical bills that insurance didn't cover. The bills piled up after Ronald Godwin lost most of his vision in the late 1990s and Carol Godwin was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. As interest rates on the cards jumped, the Godwins moved into a smaller house. Then they refinanced the house to pay off credit card bills. Now, they're crossing their fingers that they won't have more unexpected health costs.

"I didn't expect all this (debt)" in retirement, Ronald says. "I had saved money, but it just seemed like it went away overnight."
Posted 1/22/2007 11:43 PM ET

http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/...t_x.htm?csp=34
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Old 01-23-2007, 03:40 PM   #3
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Yes indeed'I to know exactly were you are coming from My Mother and father inlaw are in the same finacial straights They are both in their mid and early 70's and because of some not very smart decisions the last fer years they are both having to work fulltime to pay their morgages..... Yes I said morgages My wife and her sister hav decided that they will deal with what comes when they pass away a long time from now and let them make their own choices as both are in real good shape and at least they are enjoying theirselvs
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Old 01-24-2007, 04:03 PM   #4
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I urge everyone out who has a parent alive to please send a little something each month to them -There is no reason that you can't send them a little something unless you POSITIVELY know 110% that they are in better financial shape than you.
I can tell you that you will be amazed at that "pride thing" they all have...but I also know that many of the widowed spouses are more than likely living on no more than $1000 a month. I am afraid to ask how they are doing it...but this news article now tells us how some of them manage.

My Dad died almost two years ago and I found out that because he was not alive all month (he died on the 29th of the month)that my Mom had to pay back all of his social security that they got at the beginning of the month he died. One lesson learned - don't call anyone to report the death until the first - (I am kidding)
The other lesson learned - How little our elders have to live on.
My DH and I now send my Mom money for each month - and I take some food down to cook for her when I come to visit (again- that pride thing - it has to look like I plan to cook for her with all that food...not put it in the freezer for her to use another time)
If my In-Laws ever get into the same situation -we will do the same thing...but please everyone just check into what your parents are actually surviving on - you may be shocked
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Old 01-25-2007, 03:14 AM   #5
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I certainly agree with the sentiments previously expressed. However, how many times have young people bemoaned social Security "might not be there". when are the young going to realize that SS was designed to be a safety net and not your total retirement? When will we return to rational rules for giving creditto save people from themselves? We all know that the answer is never! We old timers all remember wehn we had to sweat to get that mortgage, credit card or a loan because we had to have income enough to pay the bills and some left over.

Sorry to soapbox.
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Old 01-25-2007, 01:05 PM   #6
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by MonacoMama:

My Dad died almost two years ago and I found out that because he was not alive all month (he died on the 29th of the month)that my Mom had to pay back all of his social security that they got at the beginning of the month he died.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Since Social Security is not paid in advance, I don't believe they would be asking for back payments. At least that is what I have experienced in the past.

I do wholeheartedly agree with the rest of your post.

Rich
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Old 01-25-2007, 04:37 PM   #7
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Sadly, there is some truth to the SS wanting the funds back.

When you first apply for SS, they hold back one month. I became eligible on January 1st and expected to get a January check in January, but nooooooo, the check you get in February is the January check, and so on.

Now when you pass away, the latest check you received has to be returned to the SS. Why? Who knows! When my father passed away I was the executor and had to return the funds to the SS. It is not right but how to get it changed?
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Old 01-25-2007, 05:23 PM   #8
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The way SS looks at it, you must be living on your anniversary date with them each month, to qualify for the check due for the past month. (If that made sense).

For example, if your date of registration with them was the 1st and you die on the day before (31st) no check. Die on the first and you are eligible for your check and get to keep it.

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Old 01-25-2007, 08:15 PM   #9
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Previously posted by Rich:

Since Social Security is not paid in advance, I don't believe they would be asking for back payments. At least that is what I have experienced in the past.

<span class="ev_code_PURPLE">This is what is on the SSA website-
What to do with conserved funds when a beneficiary dies

When a person who receives Social Security payments dies, no payment is due for the month of death, even if he or she dies on the last day of the month. Any payment received for the month of death or later must be returned.</span>
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Old 01-26-2007, 12:25 AM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by redeldo:
Sadly, there is some truth to the SS wanting the funds back.

When you first apply for SS, they hold back one month. I became eligible on January 1st and expected to get a January check in January, but nooooooo, the check you get in February is the January check, and so on.

Now when you pass away, the latest check you received has to be returned to the SS. Why? Who knows! When my father passed away I was the executor and had to return the funds to the SS. It is not right but how to get it changed? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I was going by the "When you first apply for SS, they hold back one month" but now see that doesn't mean anything. With everything said, it appears that the Social Security Administration taps you on the shoulder when you go in their door and again going out. That is worse than tax on tax.

Rich
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Old 01-26-2007, 04:40 AM   #11
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by redeldo:
Sadly, there is some truth to the SS wanting the funds back.

When you first apply for SS, they hold back one month. I became eligible on January 1st and expected to get a January check in January, but nooooooo, the check you get in February is the January check, and so on.

Now when you pass away, the latest check you received has to be returned to the SS. Why? Who knows! When my father passed away I was the executor and had to return the funds to the SS. It is not right but how to get it changed? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
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Well, no one pays you for a month in advance; at least no one I ever worked for over the years. I don't see why one would expect to get paid for January until the month had elapsed.

With regard to death payment.
This is SSA comment on this issue.
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Social Security benefits are not payable for the month in which a beneficiary dies. This applies whether the person dies on the first or the last day of the month. This provision has been in the law since 1939 and can be changed only by an amendment to the Social Security Act. The legislative history of this provision does not show why benefits are not payable for the month of death. However, the provision complements the provision of the law that allows us to pay survivors benefits for the entire month of death.
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I believe that in that time and place (1939) it seemed only logical (and still does to me) that if the person isn't alive to collect the benefit than there is no one who can legally receive payment and thus no one even questioned it or else there would have been legislative history to show what discussions they held around the issue. On the other hand as noted they did allow payment of survivors benefits for whole month.
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Old 01-26-2007, 06:34 AM   #12
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We seem to be off track with the original post, which is more serious the 1 months SS. After my Dad passed my Mom tried living alone for a bit,that didn't work because Mom relied on Pop for everything she lived with me for a while until her heath started to deteriorate. She then moved into an assisted living center. Thats when the problem started. While there she applied for a was given a Mastercard with a $15,000 limit. Now thats a little strange since her only income was SS. The assisted living center costs left mom with about $150 a month spending money. She was a generous person so she was always "helping out" one resident or an other. Since her mail was at the center my sister and I didn't see the MC bills each month.Mom would always pay the minimum and spend more than she paid. By the tome we found out there was $13000 plus in debt. She was at the point where she couldn't pay the minimum. The MC company started dunning my sister as she was listed on Moms bank account from long before all this. Long story short they turned it over to a bill collector who began calling Mom several times a day calling her a deadbeat. I got involved and called the issueing band told them they could either write it off as a bad debt or read about it in the news. "Bank dunns poor widow" also explained there were no assets and that my sister and I were supplimenting moms income but would not pay THEM. That was the last we heard from them.
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