On March 1 the Social Security Administration will no longer send checks by mail. If you are one of the 7% of Social Security recipients who still receive paper checks, you have just a few days left to sign up for electronic payment. Sure, change is difficult for many of us, but electronic payment is actually a lot more secure. Plus, you'll be helping bring down the deficit: The Treasury Department estimates the switch will save taxpayers $1 billion over the next decade. To sign up for your electronic payment, go to www.godirect.org. There are just a few situations in which the Treasury Department will continue to send paper checks:
- If you were born on or before May 21, 1921.
- If you reside in a very rural area without ready access to your bank.
- Those with mental impairments making electronic payments a hardship.
Request a waiver by calling 800-333-1795.
Changes to earnings limits, too:
Social Security has also changed the earnings limits for beneficiaries:
- If you are between age 62 and 65, for the year 2013 you can earn up to $15,120 (up from $14,640). For every $2 of earnings over the income limit, $1 will be deducted from your benefits.
- If you turn 66 in 2013, you can earn up to $40,080 (Up from $38.880). For every $3 of earnings over the income limit, $1 will be deducted from your benefits.
- At age 66 and older, there is no longer an earnings limit.
When to collect Social Security is a number-crunching challenge for millions of people these days. The longer you wait, the bigger your future benefits, but there are numerous other factors to consider too, including your spouse's age, whether you and your spouse are still working, your health, whether you have additional sources of income, tax ramifications, anticipated longevity and much more. Help is available at the Social Security website. Another online tool is the AARP's benefit calculator.