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Answers to popular Social Security questions not one-size-fits-all

Written on May 12, 2022

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager 

Some of the most popular Social Security questions aren’t easily answered because the best answer is dependent on the individual. 

“People ask, ‘When should I apply?’ and ‘How should I apply?’” said Brandon Smith, Public Affairs Specialist at the Social Security Administration in Cleveland. “With those questions, it’s about when it will work out best in your life Consider what method of applying will best suit your particular needs.” 

Smith and Robert Fenn, the Public Affairs Specialist at the Social Security Administration in Akron, said to avoid seeking out general advice about applying for Social Security benefits. 

“I don't want someone to think ‘I have to call Social Security and apply,’ because their friend across the street or their neighbor said I should,” Smith said. 

When considering Social Security, Smith said applicants should reach out to their CPA and decide what works best for them and what benefits they are eligible for based on their unique situation. 

Fenn encouraged CPAs to remind their clients to create an account online, as there are numerous resources available on socialsecurity.gov to help. The Social Security office is now open to in-person appointments, although visitors are required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, and there are also physical distancing measures in place, so they might have to wait outside or in a car if the lobby is too full.  

Fenn also said that if a CPA is working with an individual, the individual must open the account, not the CPA. 

“If someone sits with you in your office, you can help them navigate to socialsecurity.gov and go through the steps, but let them to hit the enter button,” he said. “So that way they are the one confirming that they're opening and accessing their MySocialSecurity  account.” 

Hear more on common Social Security questions in the most recent podcast episode from the State of Business.   

And for more learning on this topic, visit MyOSCPA.