Last week’s column explained the 2019 increase in the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment and how it is calculated. This week, Maurie Backman, who writes the online Motley Fool Book Nerd column, has good advice for those who would like to boost their Social Security benefits in 2019 and is worth passing along to veterans still working, as well as all retirees.
Millions of retirees depend on Social Security to stay afloat financially. Whether close to retiring or years away from that milestone, the moves you make in 2019 could improve your benefits. Here are three things Backman advises you to do to boost your Social Security payments.
First, hold off on filing for retirement. If you were born in 1953, then 2019 is the year in which you will reach your full retirement age for Social Security purposes. This means that if you file upon turning 66, you will get the precise monthly benefit to which your work record entitles you.
You are not required, however, to claim benefits as soon as you reach full retirement age. If you delay receiving benefits past that age, they will increase by 8 percent a year automatically until you turn 70, at which point the incentive to wait runs out. Therefore, if you are turning 66 this year but hold off on claiming Social Security until age 70, you will wind up collecting 132 percent of your original monthly benefit once you finally file. If your earnings record would have otherwise given you $1,500 a month for filing at full retirement age, delaying and filing at age 70 will increase that to $1,980 — for life.
Second, fight for a raise. Social Security benefits are initially calculated based on your earnings, specifically, your highest 35 years of earnings. Therefore, the more money you make each year, the more you stand to collect from Social Security when you are older. That's why it really pays to fight for a raise this year. An estimated 66 percent of workers who ask their employers for more money are successful, reports online job site CareerBuilder.
To come out a winner in pay raise negotiations, start that conversation knowing exactly what you are worth, Backman says. Research the pertinent data that proves what the going rate is for a person with your job title and show your manager that your employer can do better with your pay scale. At the same time, prepare a list of ways you specifically add value to your company so your boss is motivated to advocate on your behalf.
Third and finally, report errors on your earnings record. If the Social Security Administration has incorrect information about your earnings history on file, your benefits could end up shortchanged. Review your annual Social Security earnings statements and report any errors within three years, three months and 15 days following the year they are made.
The SSA will not mail you a copy of your annual earnings statement directly unless you are age 60 or older. Otherwise, you need to create an account on the SSA's website (www.ssa.gov/myaccount) and access your earnings record there. The actions you take during 2019 could set the stage for a lifetime of higher benefits down the line.
Female vets needed
for honor flight to D.C.
The first all-female honor flight code named Honor Flight "Victory" is seeking eligible female veterans for a tour of our nation’s capital and military monuments on April 6. Any female veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War or during those time periods are welcome to apply to the R.I. Fire Chiefs Honor Flight Hub to become eligible to go on that trip.
Jan. 31 is the cutoff date for applications from female veterans for the honor flight. Top priority is given to World War II veterans who have not yet visited the World War II Memorial. Exceptions will be made for terminally ill veterans who have never participated in an honor flight trip to Washington, D.C. The next priority will be for female veterans who served between World War II and Korea, then Korean War veterans, veterans that served between Korea and Vietnam, then Vietnam War veterans and female veterans who served in Lebanon or Grenada (Aug. 24, 1982, to July 31, 1984), Panama (Dec. 20, 1989, to Jan. 31, 1990) and Gulf War/War on Terrorism (Aug. 2, 1990, to the present). Any female serving on active duty anywhere and at any time during the previous dates is eligible for Honor Flight Victory on a first-come, first-served basis tied to when the application has been received by the RIFC Honor Flight Hub.
Honor Flight Victory is being organized by the R.I. Fire Chiefs Honor Flight Hub, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit group that pays tribute to America’s veterans with a tour of honor for those who have made great sacrifices for this country. The flight and tour are being sponsored by the Rhode Island Chapters of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, who have made a generous donation that covers the veterans’ expenses for this 22nd honor flight.
Veterans' applications can be found on the Rhode Island Fire Chiefs Honor Flight Hub website at www.rihonorflight.com. If you have questions or know a female veteran who might be interested in going on this honor flight, have them call (401) 354-7905 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vietnam War author
at Ponaganset High
The Foster-Glocester Regional School District has received an NEA/Big Read grant and, as part of that grant, will feature Tim O'Brien, the award-winning author of "The Things They Carried," at Ponaganset High School auditorium in North Scituate at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16. "The Things They Carried" is considered one of the finest books about the Vietnam War. This event is free and open to the public. Need more information? Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Obtain free admission tickets on the web at https://fgschools.wixsite.com/fgneabigread.
— The Rhode Island House Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee, 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 14, Room 135, R.I. State House, Smith Street, Providence.
— American Legion William Shields Jr. Post 43, 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, 662 West Shore Rd., Warwick.
— Veterans of Foreign Wars Kelley-Gazzerro Post 2812, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, 1418 Plainfield St., Cranston.
— The R.I. Special Forces Association Chapter 48 business meeting, 7:30 p.m. with optional dinner at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 16, Gregg's Restaurant, 4120 Quaker Lane, North Kingstown.
— Vietnam Veterans of America James Michael Ray Memorial Chapter 818, social gathering at 6 p.m., followed by meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, Lincoln Senior Center, 150 Jenckes Hill Rd., Lincoln.
— U.S. Submarine Veterans Rhode Island Base, 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 17, R.I. Aviation Hall of Fame building, 6854 Post Rd., North Kingstown, and all qualified submariners are welcome.
— U.S. Navy Seabee Veterans of America Island X-1 Davisville, 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, Seabee Museum, 21 Iafrate Way, North Kingstown; NCBC Battalion and training ship Walter Boll Sea Cadets should check their meeting schedule at riseacadets.org.
Send veterans’ meeting and news items to George W. Reilly at VeteransColumn@gmail.com.