Social Security questions and answers

| June 6, 2013

SOCIAL SECURITY By Chuck Stovall

GENERAL

Question: My wife doesn’t have enough work under Social Security to qualify for Social Security or Medicare. But, I am fully insured and eligible. Can she qualify on my record?

Answer: Yes. The question you’ve raised applies to husbands as well as wives. Even if your spouse has never worked under Social Security, she (or he) can, at full retirement age, receive a benefit equal to one-half of your full retirement amount. Your wife is eligible for reduced spouses benefits as early as age 62, as long as you are already receiving benefits. If your spouse will receive a pension for work not covered by Social Security such as government employment, the amount of his or her Social Security benefits on your record may be reduced. For more information, take a look at the fact sheet, Government Pension Offset, Publication No. 05-10007 at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10007.pdf. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov and select the “Retirement” tab.

RETIREMENT

Question: My neighbor said he applied for Social Security retirement benefits on the computer. Can you really apply for retirement without traveling to an office?

Answer: Yes, you can! And what’s more, it’s the easiest, fastest, and most convenient way to apply for retirement benefits. There’s no need to fight the traffic to visit an office and wait to be served. Our website makes it simple, allowing you to apply for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes. You can get started now at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.

Question: What is the earliest age I can begin receiving retirement benefits?

Answer: The law states Social Security disability benefits can be paid only after you have been disabled continuously throughout a period of five full calendar months. Social Security disability benefits begin with the sixth full month after the date your disability began. You are not able to receive benefits for any month during the waiting period. Learn more at our website: www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME

Question: What are the rules for getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? I’m thinking about applying based on my disability.

Answer: To be eligible to receive SSI benefits, you must be disabled, blind, or age 65 or older and have limited income and resources. Income is money you receive such as wages, Social Security benefits, and pensions. Income also includes the value of such things as food and shelter you receive from others. Resources include real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds. You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth no more than $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI if they have resources worth no more than $3,000. Learn more by reading our publication, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11000.pdf.

Question: I have an appointment to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). What kind of information will I need to take with me?

Answer: To help make the application process go quickly and smoothly, you should bring:

• Your Social Security number;

• Your birth certificate or other proof of your age;

• Information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name;

• Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, burial fund records, and other information about your income and the things you own;

• Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status; and

• If you are applying for SSI because you are disabled or blind, the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals, and clinics that have information related to your condition.

Learn more by reading our publication, You May Be Able To Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11069.pdf.

MEDICARE

Question: I found out that my daughter and I submitted incorrect information about my resources when she helped me complete my Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs. How can I get my application amended now to show the correct amount?

Answer: You can call 1-800-772-1213 and let us know. Or you can contact your local Social Security office by using our office locator at www.socialsecurity.gov/locator. Information on your application will be matched with data from other federal agencies. If there is a discrepancy that requires verification, we will contact you.

Answer: The earliest age you can begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits is 62. If you decide to receive benefits before your full retirement age, which for most people is age 66 or 67, you will receive a reduced benefit. Keep in mind you will not be able to receive Medicare coverage until age 65, even if you decide to retire at an earlier age. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov.

DISABILITY

Question: Is there a time limit on how long I can receive Social Security disability benefits?

Answer: Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you cannot work. Social Security will periodically review your case to determine whether you continue to be eligible. If you are still receiving dis disability benefits when you reach your full retirement age, your disability benefits will automatically be converted to retirement benefits. Learn more about disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

 

This article originally appeared in the June 5, 2013 print edition.

Category: Social Security

About the Author ()

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

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