Social Security retirement benefits question
February 3, 2012 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Need help navigating the tedious Social Security retirement benefits maze for my mother.

My mother is about to retire from her job. We went to the Social Security office yesterday to apply for retirement benefits and get some questions answered. The person who "helped" us was useless. Much of what she was explaining was bureaucratic jargon. We did not understand much of what was said despite asking for clarification several times. By the end of the meeting we weren't even 100% that she had even submitted the application!

I don't have specific questions about Social Security to ask here. However, I am hoping you can help me figure out who I can ask locally. I'm looking for an attorney or an advisor to help us figure out that she is making all of the right decisions. Most of the lawyers that I see listed in the area seem to specialize in social security disability claims. She is not disabled, she just wants to retire.

If I look for retirement consultant, all I seem to find are financial consultants. She really doesn't have enough money to warrant a financial advisor. We just need someone who can translate the jargon into understandable English!

I live in CT if you happen to have a name of an attorney or consultant I can call, that would be great. If you don't have a name, just a direction where I can look for help will be much appreciated!
posted by SheIsMighty to Law & Government (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The webpage for SSA is pretty easy. Honestly, unless you're dealing with some really special snowflake conditions, that's pretty much all you need.
posted by Oktober at 12:16 PM on February 3, 2012

You might call the state unit on aging or one of the area agencies on aging.
posted by desjardins at 12:22 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: She does have a few special snowflake details. That's why I'm hoping to find the type of person I should call for help. Don't really think an attorney is what I need, but can't figure out who else to search for.
posted by SheIsMighty at 12:22 PM on February 3, 2012

It's hard to tell without knowing the details, but really the SSA rep should have been able to help you. I know it's frustrating and you probably just wanted to get out of there, and it's easy for me to say, but you should have said, "I'm sorry for asking again, but we still do not understand. We don't even know if you have even submitted the application! Is there someone else we can talk with?"

If you can't get back in touch easily to do that, I'd advise an area agency on aging as already mentioned.

If you are trying to decide when to claim benefits, that's a financial decision. This guide might be helpful, or you might want to hire a financial advisor. (You say she doesn't have a lot of money, but if she's going to collect, say, $1000/month in benefits for 25 years, that's $300,000 in lifetime benefits. Even a small change in that number would more than pay for a couple of hours of an advisor's time.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:51 PM on February 3, 2012

Best answer: I had this same experience helping my mother and I agree that it is frustrating. This book was the ultimate help navigating the entire process because it explained everything in terms any reasonable person could understand. It helped me assist with the social security paperwork, her pension paperwork and soon I will look to it again for medicare assistance. Added benefit of being inexpensive and libraries frequently have the most recent edition. I would hands down recommend any NOLO product.

Social Security, Medicare & Government Pensions
posted by frostharp at 1:26 PM on February 3, 2012

Here in Tucson, Pima Council on Aging offers 2 or 3 hour workshops every few weeks for those who are about to receive their benefits. It is quite comprehensive, and the leaders are very knowledgeable. I imagine most large cities have organizations that offer something similar. AARP may have some links to resources as well.
posted by QuakerMel at 9:31 AM on February 4, 2012

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