Social Security Workers Give Out WRONG Information All The Time. Can you really trust Social Security Employees?
Too many people make the mistake of thinking that Social Security customer service employees know what they are talking about. But many times they don’t.
Unfortunately, too often, Social Security customer service employees give out either incomplete or wrong information. This ends up costing people tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost benefits. So, it’s hard to know when you can trust Social Security Employees.
I know you may find that hard to believe, but it is true. In fact, there is some documented evidence of the massive incompetence of Social Security customer service employees, and evidence comes directly from Social Security.
I’ve helped save hundreds of people thousands of dollars.
Before I show you the results of an internal audit Social Security conducted, I want to share some of my experience. For the last 10 years I have advised thousands of people. On a number of occasions, some of these people would call me after leaving a Social Security office appointment.
I can tell immediately that they are upset. They tell me that the Social Security’s customer service employee says the claiming strategy I had recommended for them can’t be used. I say: “They don’t know what they are talking about – but I do.”
These people work for Social Security, so they should know what they are talking about. You would think that would be the case, but unfortunately, Social Security customer service employees are wrong quite often. They end up costing people a lot of money in lost benefits, and ultimately, you can’t trust Social Security Employees.
If this happens, you need to set up another appointment at your local Social Security office. This time, ask to speak with the manager. Show them the printout of the claiming strategy I gave you. Tell them you know the strategy is correct, and you are not leaving until they set it up.
I usually get another call from this person. But this time they are very happy, because Social Security set the claiming strategy up that I recommended. Going forward, they are going to get every dollar they are entitled to. And have confidence in knowing they did not leave any money on the table.
More Studies Show You Can’t Trust Social Security Employees
Another Social Security expert, who also wrote a best-selling book on Social Security, estimates that 50% of the time, Social Security customer service employees give out wrong or incomplete information. A different expert estimates that people lose out on up to $10 billion of lost benefits every year because they don’t know all of their claiming options, and Social Security does not tell them. Check out this article, 5 Ways to Beat the Social Security Bureaucracy, to learn more about the inaccuracy of Social Security Customer Service Employees.
You might be thinking that these are just some isolated instances. And that these other experts, are making some educated guesses. But do I have any really hard evidence about how big a problem this really is? Yes, there is some hard evidence and it comes from Social Security itself.
Social Security’s Internal Audit
In 2018, Social Security published the results of an internal audit it conducted on its own Customer Service employees. The results were both eye-opening and frightening, to say the least.
In the audit, they identified 13,564 widows and widowers.
They took a random sample from those 13,564 widows and widowers. It concluded that in 82% of those cases, their customer service employees gave out incomplete or flat out wrong information. That’s 11,123 of the 13,564 of the widows and widowers!
They estimated that they underpaid those people to the tune of $142,000,000. To my knowledge, they have not done anything to correct this mistake, either.
It seems that Social Security has the attitude that: “Yes, our people made mistakes, and it ended up costing these widows and widowers over $142 million dollars in lost benefits. But they are just going to have to live with it.”
If any other private company made a mistake, that cost their customers to lose over $142,000,000, our government would require them to and pay it back. On top of that, they probably would have fined them hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. But Social Security’s Customer Service employees can make mistakes that cost people hundreds of millions of dollars in lost benefits. And Social Security does not do anything to correct their employees’ incompetence. That Ain’t Right.
An example of why you can’t trust social security employees
A little while ago a widow, who I am going to call Jane, asked me to take a look at her situation and advise her on her Social Security claiming options.
Jane’s Monthly Benefit: $2,649
At her Full Retirement Age of 66 years & 6 months, her Full Retirement Benefit was $2,458 per month. Jane’s deceased husband’s benefit, which is also the Survivor Benefit, was $2,649 per month. She is entitled to claim either one of those two benefits. At first glance, it looks like an obvious choice. Claim the bigger Survivor Benefit of $2,649 as opposed to her own smaller benefit of $2,458. But that’s not her best option.
In fact, that is exactly what the Social Security Customer Service employee told her to do. Jane was 63 years old and had stopped working and needed additional income. Social Security told her to claim the Survivor Benefit immediately. If Jane claimed the Survivor Benefit at age 63, it would be reduced to $2,286 per month. This is still larger than the amount she would have received had she claimed her own benefit at age 63. That’s when Social Security told her she is done, and she will receive that benefit for the rest of her life.
If Jane followed Social Security’s recommendation, this is what her claiming strategy would look like:
Social Security’s Recommendation:
Jane would claim the reduced Survivor Benefit at age 63, and receive $2,286 per month for the rest of her life. Her monthly benefit would increase a bit every year because of an assumed annual COLA increase of 2.5%.
I told her that her Survivor Benefit of $2,649 is maxed out at her Full Retirement Age of 66 years & 6 months. In other words, it does not get any bigger after that age. Her own regular benefit of $2,458, though, will continue to grow by a minimum of 8% per year, every year she delays claiming after her Full Retirement age up to age 70. Her own benefit will grow to be substantially bigger than the Survivor Benefit if she delays claiming until age 70.
I advised her to tell Social Security that she wanted to claim the Survivor Benefit at age 63, and only the Survivor Benefit, and continue to delay claiming her own. She would receive those Survivor Benefit payments over the next seven years (from age 63 – age 70). Then at age 70, she would switch to her own maxed out benefit. That benefit will have grown to $3,650 per month (with annual COLA increases) for the rest of her life.
Social Security Customer Service employees never told her that was an option. To claim the Survivor Benefit, then after seven years, switch to her own benefit amount. I, however, did, and saved her thousands of dollars she is more than entitled to.
Age 70 Benefit:
My Recommendations: $3,650
Social Security’s Recommendation: $2,718
Monthly Difference: $932
If Jane had taken Social Security’s recommendation, starting at age 70 she would have lost $932 every month.
Annual Lost Benefit Amount: $932 x 12 = $11,184
In order to see how much money Jane would have lost on an annual basis, you would multiply the monthly lost amount by the 12 months in a year, giving a total of $11,184. Had Jane used Social Security’s recommendation, she would have lost $11,184 in benefits every year past aged 70.
Jane’s Life Expectancy: 86
At age 63, Jane’s life expectancy is pushed out to age 86. Let’s take a look at how quickly the lost benefits add up over time.
|My Recommendation||Social Security’s Recommendation||Lost Benefits|
Big Losses in the Long Term
Look how quickly the lost benefits add up the longer that Jane lives. By age 75, with my recommendation, Jane would have received a cumulative total of $468,576 in Social Security benefits. While if she had taken Social Security’s recommendation, she would have only received a cumulative total of $397,128. If Jane had listened to Social Security, then by age 75 she would have lost benefits of $71,448. By age 80, her lost benefits with their recommendation would total $139,596. And by age 85, which isn’t even her life expectancy, she would have lost $216,720. If she lives to be age 90, she would have lost over $300,000 in benefits.
Those lost benefits can really add up over time. When Jane first came to see me, she told me what the Social Security Customer Service employee had recommended. I showed her my recommended claiming strategy, and she was blown away.
At first, she was a little skeptical that she could claim the Survivor Benefit first, then switch at age 70. After I showed her she could absolutely do that, she was angry that Social Security did not tell her this. She realized how much money she would have lost if she took Social Security’s recommendation.
Jane’s situation is an example of the 11,237 widows and widowers who were shortchanged $142,000,000 in lost benefits.
This Does Not Happen To Just Widows & Widowers
Don’t think that this doesn’t apply to you because you are not a widow or widower. If you are married, divorced or single, do you think that Social Security has a much better track record.
Even if they don’t have an 82% error rate, what if the other experts are right, and they only give out wrong information 50% of the time? Does that give you more confidence that Social Security Customer Service employees will make you aware of all your options? Are you certain they will give you every benefit dollar you are entitled to, with only 50% accuracy?
You need to know what all your options are before you claim your benefits. Don’t make the same mistake so many people already have. Do not trust Social Security employees to make you aware of all your claiming options. They could end up costing you tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands, of dollars in lost benefits. You need to claim your benefits with confidence. Be aware of all your claiming options. You are entitled to the best benefit possible. Do not leave any money on the table!