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  • Writer's pictureChris Stein, CFP®

Missed Social Security Payments

A reader recently asked the following question about claiming missed Social Security payments:

“I am trying to help a friend who is a senior living in Florida.  He is 90 years old and worked at a job paying about 23,000 per year until last year.  He never filed for Social Security.  Can he get back pay for all those years?”

Filing a Retroactive Application

The rules on filing a retroactive application for Social Security benefits are very clear.  You can file for up to six months of retroactive benefits, but no farther back than your full retirement age.  This first means that you cannot file for any missed benefits that occurred prior to your full retirement age.

Additionally, once you reach your full retirement age you can claim up to 6 months of retroactive benefits.  In this case your friend has possibly missed over 20 years of benefits.  I say possibly since you do not indicate at what age he became eligible for Social Security retirement benefits.  If he were eligible back in his sixties then this is a very sad story since he could have been collecting some sort of benefit, even while working for the past 25 years.  Since it is hard to imagine a person going 25 years without realizing he could claim a SS benefit I am guessing he did not become eligible for a benefit until more recently, if he is even eligible now.  Without knowing his full wage history I cannot tell you when, or if he became eligible for a benefit.

Claiming the Benefit

The best remedy at this point is to immediately make an appointment for him to go in to see a Social Security representative and file for any benefit for which is eligible.  They will assist him in filling out a retroactive application to claim up to 6 months of benefits, but unfortunately that is the legal limit.

One possible glimmer of hope exists if he was incorrectly denied benefits in the past and has some documentation when he contacted Social Security indicating he wanted to file for benefits.  If he can show it was a Social Security Administration error it is likely they will make him whole by paying him benefits all the way back to their error.

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