Social Security File & Suspend
I discussed in a recent column the process my wife and I went through to file and suspend my Social Security benefits . I did this so that my wife will now be able to collect a spousal benefit while I deferred collecting until age 70 and my benefit will increase 8 percent a year until then. This option will no longer be available after April 30th of this year. Shortly after making this change I received a new Medicare card with a different Medicare claim number suffix . Your Medicare claim number is basically your Social Security Number followed by one of 30 plus suffix extensions. I went from a T (Enrolled in Medicare but temporarily delayed Social Security Benefits) to an A (Primary Claimant – wage earner) status.
This basically confirms that I am now officially collecting Social Security benefits and in the program even though I personally delayed collecting until age 70. My wife is now collecting a spousal benefit based on my work history. Her total monthly check is comprised of two components, her benefit that she started collecting at age 62 plus a spousal benefit that increased her check up to half of what I would have collected at age 66.
If both you and your spouse are at your full retirement age (66) you only have a short time to take advantage of this option. My article tilted Social Security Changes, Retiree Job Options, & Updates  explains the major changes that were made to the Social Security Program recently under the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.”
I’ve been concerned for some time about potential changes to the Social Security program that are proposed by both political parties. Hopefully, if you are already in the system and collecting Social Security neither party will pass legislation to cancel those benefits. Only time will tell.
2016 Leave and Schedule Record – Entering Fractional Hours
Mary, a federal employee that uses our 2016 Leave and Schedule Record  reported that she was having trouble entering fractional hours on the Excel spread sheet. I downloaded the chart and entered 8 hours of annual leave accrued with 1.5 hours of leave taken for that period and the balance shows correctly as 6.5 hours. However if you enter 1.25 hours the fractional hours round up to 1.3 hours due to the limited space provided for that column. This happens with all four categories of leave; annual, sick, comp and credit and there is an easy correction that you can make so that the fractional hours do not round up.
The leave total fractional hours round up due to column space limitations when your total hours are 3 digits or more. You can expand the column width and the rounding will return to the actual number.
To expand the column width for annual leave totals place your cursor at the top of the form on the line between the columns T & U. Click and hold the left mouse button down and move the mouse to the right to expand the column a bit. Release the mouse button and you will see that the rounding disappears and your fractional hours will be as entered and not rounded up. You can do this with each of the four leave columns so that fractional hours will show correctly.
When we update the chart for 2017 I’ll expand the columns so this won’t be an issue.
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Helpful Retirement Planning Tools
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- Retirement Planning Guide 
- Master Retiree Contact List  (Important contact numbers and information)
- How to be Financially Prepared When You Retire 
- How to be Emotionally and Physically Prepared When You Retire 
- 2016 Leave & Schedule Excel Chart (FREE Excel chart tracks actual leave balances)
- Survivor’s Guide 
- Estate Planning Guide (An 11 part series that will help readers prepare for retirement, understand basic estate planning techniques, and compile their personal “Survivor’s Guide” binder.)
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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment advisor. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.
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