Keeping Social Security updated prevents unwanted surprises

Last Updated on September 29, 2015 by cassnetwork

Guest column by David Seymour, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

image006Most people love surprises, but many dislike change. It’s just the opposite with Social Security. If you receive benefits, we want to hear about your changes.

Keeping us informed minimizes the chance that we learn about something later that could negatively affect your benefits. That’s the surprise no one wants, because it creates overpayments that you must repay, disrupts payments, and can even jeopardize your entitlement to Social Security benefits.

Here is a reminder of some of the most common forms of information Social Security needs from you.

Your address and direct deposit information. We need to know your current mailing address and phone number so we can reach you if needed. This is especially important if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) since where you live can change the amount of your SSI benefits.

When your direct deposit information is not current, it can cause headaches with missing or delayed payments. You can update your address or direct deposit information when you register for a my Social Security account at

Your work. When you receive Social Security disability benefits or SSI for a disability, we have found you unable to work because of your condition. That’s why we need to know if you take a job or are self-employed, or if you stop work or have any changes in work hours, or pay. If your work is substantial enough, it may affect your benefits. You may also need to report if you begin receiving or have a change in any worker’s compensation or public disability benefits.

If you are receiving retirement or survivors benefits, be mindful of the yearly earnings limit before you reach Full Retirement Age (FRA), which is currently 67 years old if you were born in 1960 or later. For 2015, the earnings limit is $15,720. When you earn over this amount, we deduct $1 in benefits for every $2 you earn. That means if you earn $30,000, we will have to reduce your benefits by roughly $7,000. It’s very important to give us a work estimate at the start of the year so that we can withhold what’s needed. If we find out you had excess earnings at a later date, you could end up with a large overpayment that you will have to repay.

Your name change. Are you recently married or divorced? If you are legally changing your name, you need to apply for a replacement Social Security card reflecting your new name. If you’re working, also tell your employer. That way, Social Security can keep track of your earnings history and properly give you credit for your earnings on your Social Security statement available at

If you have reported income under your former or maiden name, we might not have received an accurate W-2 and your earnings may have been recorded incorrectly. This is easier to fix now — when you first change your name — than years from now when you retire. Visit to find out what specific documents you need to change your name and to apply for a replacement card.

Some changes can be reported online at You can also notify us 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local Social Security office.

Our goal at Social Security is to pay you the right amount, on time, every month. With your cooperation to keep us informed of changes, the likelihood of any unpleasant surprises that could derail your benefits will be greatly minimized.


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