Hang Up and Call Again – You Might Get A Different Answer

Woman on phone

Hang Up and Call Again – You Might Get A Different Answer

I learned through a frequent flyer online discussion group awhile back to “Hang Up and Call Again” (HUCA) when the airline agent on the phone didn’t understand the problem or wouldn’t adjust a reservation even though it was allowed. Or they wouldn’t book a flight that you could see was a doable connection, but they couldn’t. Sometimes the agent wanted to charge a fee when it was exempt.

This technique of hanging up and calling back to get a different person applies to other facets of our life including phoning the Social Security Call Center when you can’t execute an online transaction. That’s always the case when it comes to spousal benefits – you must call or visit a Social Security office.

Here’s my latest HUCA example:

A widow turning 66 calls Social Security at our recommendation to start her spousal Social Security benefit while waiting to begin her own benefit at age 70. She’s still working in a good-paying job and her benefit will be much larger than the spousal benefit.

She’s eligible at 66 and two months because her birthdate is in 1954 and that means she’s no longer subject to an earnings test before her “full retirement age”. Her late husband was a federal employee and retired under an older system when federal employees did not participate in Social Security. However, he spent more than ten years in retirement as a teacher and participated in Social Security and earned a partial benefit under a system that deducts much of the benefit for his nonparticipation years.

It’s called the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Our client was told some bad news on her call that she wasn’t eligible because of WEP. Wrong!! WEP doesn’t apply to widows when they apply for a spousal benefit. We double-checked to make sure we had read the law correctly and advised her to call again after sending her the appropriate page from the Social Security website citing the provision for widowed spouses. Bingo. Ten minutes later she sent us an email. Her spousal benefit, a little over $1,000 a month begins in less than 30 days. For four years she will have the benefit that her late husband paid for out of his paycheck as a teacher.

Lesson learned!

Don’t think you received the correct answer? Don’t like the answer you got? HUCA.

Jim Ludwick
Jim Ludwick
jim@mainstreetplanning.com

Jim Ludwick is the founder of MainStreet Financial Planning. His varied education and life experiences have enabled him to apply his knowledge and experience into useful solutions for personal financial problems. His writing and broadcasting activities allow him to help many more than just individual clients. He loves a microphone.

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