Social Security questions and answers

| August 9, 2013

By Chuck Stovall
Social Security Administration

Question: I need proof of my Social Security income. Can I get verification online?

Answer: Yes! The best way to get a benefit verification letter is by using a my Social Security account. Your personal my Social Security account is a convenient and secure way for you to check your benefit and payment information, change your address, phone number, and direct deposit information, and to get your benefit verification letter. You can use your benefit verification letter to verify your income, retirement or disability status, Medicare eligibility, and age. When you use my Social Security to get it, you can request which information you would like included in the letter. Learn more, use my Social Security, and get your benefit verification letter now at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Question: I heard there is a Social Security video available in American Sign Language. Where can I find it?

Answer: Yes, it’s true, and you can find the video on our website. The video is called “Social Security, SSI and Medicare: What You Need to Know About These Vital Programs.” The video is available in American Sign Language and it presents important information about our programs. You can watch the video now at www.socialsecurity.gov/multimedia/video/asl. The video is a part of our larger collection of on-demand videos and webinars available at www.socialsecurity.gov/webinars.

 

RETIREMENT

Question: Can I apply for retirement benefits online?

Answer: Yes, you can and it is quick, convenient, and easy. You’ll find the application information at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. You also can calculate your estimated benefits by using our Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. Apply online and save a trip to the office and a wait in line. For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov. 

Question: I worked the first half of the year, but plan to retire this month. Will Social Security count the amount I earn for this year when I retire?

Answer: Yes. If you retire mid-year, we count your earnings for the entire year. We have a special “earnings test” rule we apply to annual earnings, usually in the first year of retirement. Under this rule, you get a full payment for any whole month we consider you retired regardless of your yearly earnings. We consider you retired during any month your earnings are $1,260 or less, or if you have not performed substantial services in self-employment. We do not consider income earned, beginning with the month you reach full retirement age. Learn more about the earnings test rule at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/rule.htm.

 

DISABILITY

Question: Will my Social Security disability benefit increase if my condition gets worse or I develop additional health problems? 

Answer: No. We do not base your Social Security benefit amount on the severity of your disability. The amount you are paid is based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began. If you go back to work after getting disability benefits, you may be able to get a higher benefit based on those earnings. In addition, we have incentives that allow you to work temporarily without losing your disability benefits. For more information about disability benefits, read our publications Disability Benefits and Working While Disabled—How We Can Help. Both are available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Question: I miss working. If I go back to work, will I automatically lose my Social Security disability benefits? 

Answer: No. Social Security has several work incentives to help you ease back into the workforce. You may be able to continue receiving benefits during a “trial work period,” and in most cases your medical coverage will continue after you begin working. We may be able to help you return to work without losing your benefits. These work incentives are like a safety net for people who want to go to work but aren’t sure they can. For information about Social Security’s work incentives, visit our website, the Work Site, at www.socialsecurity.gov/work or read the online Red Book on Work Incentives at www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook. For additional information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

 

SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME

Question: If I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, what is the effect on my benefits when I take seasonal work?

Answer: Even a small amount of earned wages can cause a deduction in your SSI payment. However, it takes substantial work to make your benefits stop. In 2013, a person who receives SSI can earn up to $1,505 a month and still continue receiving some SSI payments. In many cases, we will deduct approved work expenses to determine your SSI payment amount. In most cases, you can continue to receive your medical coverage for up to two years after you begin working. We have several publications on SSI, including Reporting Your Wages When You Receive Supplemental Security Income, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. For more information, call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Question: I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Can my children receive benefits because I receive SSI?

Answer: No. SSI benefits are based on the needs of the individual and are only paid to the qualifying person. There are no benefits payable to spouses, children or survivors as there are with Social Security benefits. For more information, see our publication, Supplemental Security Income, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. For even more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).


MEDICARE

Question: I pay my monthly premium directly to my Medicare prescription drug plan provider. Why can’t I also pay my income-related monthly adjustment amount directly to my Medicare prescription drug plan provider?

Answer: By law, we must deduct your income-related monthly adjustment amount from your Social Security payments. If the amount you owe is more than the amount of your payment, or you don’t get monthly payments, you will get a separate bill from another federal agency, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or the Railroad Retirement Board. Read our publication, Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries, for an idea of what you can expect to pay. You’ll find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 7 print edition.

Category: Social Security

About the Author ()

Chuck Stovall is an assistant district manager with the Social Security Administration.