Continues fight to protect program
First Social Security payment issued Jan. 31, 1940
On Jan. 31, 1940, Ida May Fuller became the first person to receive a Social Security payment following enactment of the Social Security Act. As the county marks the 81st anniversary of the first check, Congressman Brian Higgins is sharing answers to some of the questions that frequently come into his office – and, he said, committing to continuing to fight to protect the Social Security program and services.
“Social Security was built on the premise that if you work hard you should be able to live a dignified retirement,” Higgins said. “For decades, it has served as a lifeline for seniors. Now, we must work to make sure it is available to retirees for decades to come.”
Higgins serves on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. He previously introduced the Social Security Administration Accountability Act, which protects and improves SSA services available to the public. Higgins also cosponsored the Social Security 2100 Act, legislation led by Rep. John Larson, which strengthens Social Security and ensures solvency through the year 2100.
In 1935, before Social Security, half of all Americans over the age of 65 lived in poverty. Today, over 104,000 retirees in Higgins’ district are beneficiaries of the Social Security program.
Higgins’ office is available to assist constituents with questions or problems related to Social Security or other federal agencies. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, with answers from Higgins’ team.
•Can I work while collecting Social Security retirement? If so, how much can I earn?
Yes, you can work and collect Social Security retirement at the same time. If you have reached full SSA retirement age, there is no limit on how much you can earn. If you have not reached retirement age, your Social Security benefits will be incrementally reduced when you hit an annually adjusted earnings limit. For 2021, the limit is $50,520 for those who will reach the retirement age that same year. If you are under full retirement for the entire year, the earnings limit for 2021 is $18,960. Use the online calculator to determine how your earnings will impact your Social Security payment: https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/RTeffect.html.
•How can I get a replacement Social Security card?
If you already have a Social Security number and don’t need to request changes related to your name or account, a new card is free and can be requested online by creating or accessing your “my Social Security account” at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. If you don’t have web access, call the toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.
•My spouse passed away; am I entitled to receive Social Security benefits?
Following a death, the following family members might be eligible to receive monthly Social Security benefits: a spouse age 60 or older, a spouse age 50 or older if disabled, a spouse at any age if caring for the deceased’s child, a divorced spouse under certain conditions, and an unmarried child under the age of 18 or under age 22 if disabled.
Typically, a funeral home will report the death to the SSA. If not, one can report a death through the toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. For more information, go to www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors.
Those who live in Higgins’ district and have further questions or need assistance with navigating federal issues can call 716-852-3501.