Take care to exhaustively check what you are told

My sister lost her husband when she was 55. She was told she was ineligible to claim any benefits until she was 62, 7 years away. We finally got her his Navy pension and asked a number of times if it would affect Social Security when she turned 62 and were told no, they don’t affect one another. Five years ago her house burned down, no insurance because she couldn’t afford it as she was not getting a lot of money, it barely covered necessities and many times her house taxes, electricity and other bills didn’t get paid (I helped where I could so her lights weren’t turned off and she wouldn’t be homeless). She ended up moving to a house my brother owns and I took her to file for Social Security.

Again we asked if the Navy pension would affect Social Security and were told no, they have nothing to do with one another, a lot of people collect on a pension and Social Security. Well, a few months ago she got a letter saying she was not entitled to the pension and never was and a demand to repay something in the neighborhood of 60 or 65 thousand dollars. Her Social Security is based on her work history and she was told that she could not claim on her husband’s (it would give her about 200 extra per month) as she would have had to make that decision when she first filed. We were told that she could re-file using her husband’s work history when she turns 68. Now she’s told that isn’t how it works.

Be SO careful to get written documentation and the name and employee number of who you speak with, make note of every call, every letter. Protect yourself, they sure as hell won’t protect you.