Questions and Answers
About Social Security and Medicare
By Oscar Garcia
Public Affairs Specialist,
Social Security Administration
4100 S. New Braunfels, Suite 101
San Antonio, Texas 78223
e-mail your question.
For more about Medicare - Click here to Dear Marci
> This is Social Security Q&A
> For current Social Security
> For current Social Security
> For current Medicare News -
> Social Security Q&A Archives -
What are some factors to consider when trying to determine the appropriate
age to start receiving Social Security benefits?
Deciding what age to retire and start collecting Social Security retirement
benefits is a personal decision that depends on a person’s financial
resources, health, retirement plans and many other variables. There are some
basic Social Security facts about the retirement age and the benefits a
worker would receive that can help people make the decision that is right
Sometimes the question is not at what age I want to
retire, it's at what income. That is why you need to know what your “full
retirement” age is as it relates to Social Security. You need to know what
retiring earlier than your full retirement age might mean in actual dollars
If you were born in 1941 and are planning to retire in
2006, your full retirement age will be 65 years and 8 months. What does
this mean in terms of benefit payments? Thankfully, Social Security has a
convenient online chart at
www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/retirechart.htm that you can use to get
the information at a quick glance.
For example, if you were born in 1941, your full
retirement age is 65 years and 8 months. If you were to retire at age 62,
you would receive about 77 percent of your full retirement benefit – or a 23
percent reduction for retiring early.
The question a worker who is contemplating retirement
would need to ask is, “Can I meet my financial needs or expectations with
that level of income?” Of course, any private pensions and savings or
investments that you may have would need to be figured into the decision, as
would any income from a spouse if you are married.
Since Social Security is the financial foundation that
most retirees build on, most workers would be well-advised to evaluate the
financial pros and cons of retiring early or waiting until they reach full
retirement age or later. Find out what your full retirement age is and how
deciding at what age to retire could affect your Social Security benefit.
I am ready to file for Social Security retirement benefits, and I understand
that filing online will let me do so at my own convenience and avoid waiting
in line. However, I do not have a computer of my own. Whenever I need to
do research or want to buy something using the Internet, I just visit my
daughter and use her computer. Can I file for Social Security benefits from
someone else’s computer?
Yes. You may use any computer to access Social Security’s electronic
application to apply for Social Security retirement, disability or spouse's
benefits for yourself.
You must complete and sign the application
electronically. For more information about applying for benefits over the
Internet, visit the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
I understand that Social Security may call Medicare
beneficiaries to obtain additional information needed to process the
Application for Extra Help with Prescription Drug Costs. How can
beneficiaries know if a call is legitimately from SSA and not part of a
Social Security may call if some questions on the
application were not answered or if we cannot read the answer. We may also
call to resolve discrepancies between answers on the application and
information we receive from other Federal agencies about the applicant's
income or resources.
When a Social Security employee calls for more
information, he or she should never ask you for bank account numbers, credit
card numbers or life insurance policy numbers. In most cases, a Social
Security employee will not ask for a Social Security Number. The only time
we will do so is if the number on the application is invalid and we need to
know the correct number.
If a person who receives a call from someone claiming
to be a Social Security employee is at all suspicious, he or she should hang
up and call Social Security back at 1-800-772-1213 to confirm that the call
I retired last June from teaching and I have been
receiving an annuity from the Teacher Retirement System (TRS). I used the
“last day” rule to be exempt from the Government Pension Offset (GPO). What
evidence is needed to document that I will qualify for the exemption from
the GPO based on the fact that I paid into TRS and Social Security on my
last day with TRS?
When you file for Social Security benefits, you should
provide documentation that includes the date(s) of your covered employment,
a statement that these covered earnings were considered in computing your
pension and signed by your employer or pension-payer.
Texas Teachers Retirement System (TRS), for example,
generally uses form 562 to provide this information. In addition, since the
last day of employment occurred last year, you will need to provide a Form
W-2 as evidence that the employment was covered under Social Security.
Social Security may contact your employer to confirm that there was a valid
employment relationship with the employer for whom you worked your last day
I applied for and was approved for the extra help to pay for the new
Prescription Drug Benefit that begins in January. Do I also have to select a
plan to access my prescriptions, or is that automatically done for me?
Applying for extra help with Social Security is separate from selecting a
Prescription Drug Plan.
Even if you are approved for extra help, you still need
to select the plan that best meets your needs. Some beneficiaries will
automatically qualify for the extra financial help.
Anyone who has both Medicare and Medicaid, or Medicare
and Supplemental Security Income or anyone whose state pays his or her
Medicare premiums, will automatically qualify and will not have to complete
an eligibility application.
You can apply for the extra help online at
www.socialsecurity.gov or you can call Social Security toll-free at
You also do not have to be eligible for the extra help
to join a Prescription Drug Plan. The extra help is in addition to the
potential savings you may receive if you join a plan.
Medicare drug plans will cover brand-name and generic
drugs. Most plans will have a list of drugs, or formulary, that they cover
as well as a list of which providers participate with the plan.
Selecting the plan that is right for you requires
comparing the providers to find which one best meets your needs. You need
to sign up directly with the company or organization offering the
prescription drug plan. To get more information about the plans, what drugs
are covered and the costs involved, you can contact Medicare by calling
1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). The Internet site—www.medicare.gov—also
has information such as a “Plan Locator” and an online enrollment center to
assist you. You can also contact the State Health Insurance Assistance
Program at 1-800-252-9240.
I am 63 and I receive Social Security retirement benefits. I have not worked
for the past two years, but I just went back to work part-time for the
Christmas season. How will that work impact my benefit, if at all?
Here is a quick run-down of what you need to know.
The good news about the payroll tax withholding is the
possibility that those extra taxes could translate into a higher Social
Security benefit. If the money you made during your holiday employment
raises your lifetime average monthly wage, Social Security will refigure
your benefit and give you an increase.
But most people will not see an increase because
holiday earnings are usually not enough to increase your average wage during
your career earning years. So if you are a retired worker with a holiday
wish for doing some work, the chances are that you should be able to do so
without worrying about a negative affect on your Social Security benefits.
If you are working and receiving early retirement
benefits, there are limits to what you can make before your Social Security
retirement benefit is reduced. For 2005, that earnings limit is $12,000.
After you earn $12,000 for the year, Social Security will withhold $1 in
benefit payments for every $2 you earn.
In 2006, the annual earnings limit will rise to
$12,480. The earnings limit exemption is just a little more complicated if
you reached your full retirement age this year or next year. In that case,
you should visit our web site for more information, www.socialsecurity.gov .
In case anyone is wondering, regardless of the amount you earn, your
employer is required to withhold payroll taxes -- even if you are already
getting Social Security benefits.
I am still working. I received benefits under my own record until I started
receiving spousal benefits. This year I received a letter from the Social
Security Administration stating: “We increased the benefit amount on your
own record, because you had additional earnings. However, the benefit we pay
you on the other Social Security record decreased when we increased the
benefit on your record. The new monthly benefit on your Social Security
number will be $872.00 and your new monthly benefit on the other number will
be $282.00. Since there is no change in the total of the two benefits, you
will continue to receive the same amount each month.” I am confused. Does
this make sense to you?
Since you continue to work, each year of earnings is a year of earnings that
can be used to increase your own Social Security retirement benefit. This
occurs if the latest year of earnings can replace a year of earnings that
was previously used in computing your benefit.
This is a procedure that Social Security does for
everyone that works and is already receiving monthly retirement benefits. In
your case, these additional earnings do not have the same impact on your
spousal benefit as they do on your retirement benefit. That is because the
spousal benefit is based on your husband's earnings. The net benefit remains
The portion that is paid as a retirement benefit is
adjusted upwards due to your earnings of the previous year. The portion that
is paid to you as a spouse is lowered to account for the increase on the
The letter that you received is a notice to let you
know that SSA has considered your earnings as they relate to your own
retirement benefit. If your own retirement benefit was much closer to
the amount of your spousal benefit, then your continued employment could
eventually increase your own retirement amount to the point that it
surpasses your spousal benefit. However, given the large difference in the
two amounts, that is not likely to occur.
What income counts toward the earnings test limit?
For purposes of determining whether Social Security benefits are payable, a
person's earnings for a taxable year are the sum of pay for services as an
employee plus all net earnings from self-employment (minus any net loss from
self-employment) for that year.
Wages for Social Security purposes are gross wages -
wages before any payroll deductions for income tax, Social Security tax,
dues, insurance, or other deductions by the employer. We use gross wages as
the basis for Social Security credit and for determining whether benefits
must be withheld because of earnings.
Non-work sources of income, such as: inheritance
payments, pensions, income from investments, IRA distributions, interest, or
other sources; do not count as wages for the earnings test. The Social
Security retirement program insures against loss of earnings from work and
not against the failure to have investment income. More information may be
found in our publication called "How Work Affects Your Benefits,"
publication number 05-10069, which is available on the Internet at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10069.html
I will be 66 years old next February and am planning to retire on my
birthday. Can you tell me what the maximum Social Security retirement
benefit will be in 2006?
The maximum amount for 2006 for a person retiring at full retirement age (65
years and 8 months for those born in 1941) is $2,053. This is based on
earnings at the maximum taxable amount for every year after age 21.
However, the average retirement benefit amount in 2006 for all workers is
estimated to be $1,002. To get an accurate estimate of your retirement
benefit amount, you can visit Social Security’s Retirement Planner at
What is the absolute earliest age that I can begin receiving Social Security
The earliest age at which a worker can begin getting Social Security
retirement benefits is 62. The 1983 Social Security Amendments included a
provision for raising the retirement age beginning with persons born in 1938
or later, but do not affect the minimum age for retirement, still age 62.
However, you would receive a reduced benefit if you elect benefits prior to
your full retirement age. For more information on the amount of this
reduction, visit Social Security online at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/retirechart.htm
My husband died four years ago and my three young children and I have been
receiving Social Security survivors benefits. I am thinking of getting
married again. Will my children continue to get Social Security benefit
payments if I remarry?
Yes. If you remarry, your minor children will continue to get survivors
benefits based on their father’s work record until they are 18 (or 19 if
still in high school). But if you are receiving survivors benefits because
you are caring for children, you will not receive survivors benefits if you
remarry. For more information about survivors benefits, see Social Security
Survivors Benefits publication online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10084.html.
You can also request a copy of Survivors Benefits by calling Social Security
at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
How do I obtain a copy of the form, Application for Help with Medicare
Prescription Drug Plan Costs, SSA-1020?
The form, Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs,
SSA-1020 has been designed to be computer scanned after completion and most
home printers are not capable of producing the special features of the
form. If you wish to apply for help with Medicare prescription drug costs,
we recommend that you use our online application at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/i1020/
If you prefer not to fill out this application on the Internet, you can call
our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 for a paper application or to make an
appointment. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call our toll-free TTY
number, 1-800-325-0778. Representatives are available Monday through Friday
from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tell the representative that you want to apply
for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs.
I had a serious back injury four years ago and received disability benefits
for about 18 months until I could return to work. Unfortunately, my back
problems have returned and I may not be able to continue working much
longer. When I first applied for benefits, I waited several months before I
received my first check. If I reapply for benefits, will my wait be as long
as it was the first time?
If you become disabled a second time within five years after your previous
disability benefits stopped, there is no waiting period before benefits
start. If your claim is approved, you can receive benefits for the first
full month of disability.
It can take from three to five months to get a decision
on a disability claim, depending on how long it takes to obtain your medical
records and any other information we need to decide whether you are
disabled. You can help shorten this time by providing as much information
as possible when you apply for benefits.
For more information about applying for benefits, we
suggest that you review our booklet, Disability (SSA Publication
No.05-10029) or you can go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability to
learn how you can file a claim online.
How will my military retirement affect my Social security benefits?
You can get both Social Security benefits and military retirement.
Generally, there is no offset of Social Security benefits because of your
military retirement. You will get your full Social Security benefits based
on your earnings. More information may be found in our fact sheet called
"Military Service and Social Security", publication number 05-10017, which
is available on the Internet at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10017.html
Q - I am 59 years old and I do not have enough
credits at this time to receive my own retirement when I am 62. I should
have enough credits by the time I am 62. What will be the amount necessary
to earn a credit in 2006?
A - The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit
changes each year. In 2006, you will earn one credit for each $970 of your
earnings. So if you earn at least $3880 during 2006, you will get the
maximum 4 credits. Credits are the "building blocks" we use to find out
whether you have the minimum amount of covered work to qualify for each type
of Social Security benefits.
If you stop working before you have enough credits to
qualify for benefits, your credits will stay on your record. If you return
to work later, you can add more credits so that you can qualify.
No benefits can be paid if you do not have enough
credits. You earn up to a maximum of 4 credits for each year by working in
jobs covered by Social Security or by operating your own business as a
Before 1978, when employers reported your wages every 3
months, we called credits "quarters of coverage", or QCs. Back then, you got
a QC or credit if you earned at least $50 in a 3-month calendar quarter.
Starting with 1978, employers report earnings just once a year. Credits are
now based on your total wages and self-employment income during the year, no
matter when you do the actual work. You might work all year to earn your 4
credits, or you might earn enough for all 4 in a much shorter length of
Q - Can a person with a terminal illness qualify for
A - Yes. The requirements for disability benefits are
the same for a person with a potentially terminal illness as for a person
with a non-terminal illness. We make every effort to identify a case
involving a person with a potentially terminal illness as early in the
claims process as possible and we have special procedures we follow to
process the claim as quickly as possible. We may become aware of the
potentially terminal illness through statements from the person claiming
disability, or from the person’s friend, family member, doctor or other
medical source. There may also be an allegation or diagnosis of AIDS, or
indications that the person is registered in a Medicare-designated hospice,
is receiving hospice care. Regardless of the potentially terminal illness
or how we learn about it, we tightly control the case throughout the claims
process and make special efforts to assist the person in providing necessary
Q - What are the earnings limits for 2006 if someone
wants to work and receive benefits at the same time?
A - If you are under full retirement age when you start
getting your Social Security payments, $1 in benefits will be deducted for
each $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2006, that limit is $12,480. It
was increased from the 2005 limit of $12,000. Remember the earliest age that
you can receive Social Security retirement benefits remains 62 even though
the full retirement age is rising.
In the year you reach full retirement age, $1 in
benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above a different limit, but
only counting earnings before the month you reach full retirement age.
For 2006, this limit is $33,240. It was increased from
the 2005 limit of $31,800.
The annual limits can prove advantageous to those
people who are able to reduce their earnings and work less hours when they
become entitled to Social Security benefits.
A person who continues working full time may not be
able to receive any Social Security until the year they reach full
It is a good idea to visit with Social Security during
January of the year in which they will reach full retirement age. That is
when the higher earnings limit applies.
Some people can actually start their retirement benefit
in January of that year if they will be earning less than the higher work
limit for the months before they reach full retirement age.
Starting with the month you reach full retirement age,
you will get your benefits because there is no longer an earnings limit.
Q - My daughter is a 21-year-old college student who
was in a terrible auto accident that doctors now say may leave her
permanently brain-damaged. She has worked every summer since high school.
Has she worked enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits?
A - The number of work credits your daughter would need
to qualify for disability benefits depends on her age when she became
disabled and whether her credits were earned within a certain time period.
Generally, a person needs to have earned 20 credits in the last 10 years,
ending with the year he or she became disabled. However, younger workers
may qualify with fewer credits. For example, a worker who becomes disabled
before age 24 needs to have earned six credits in the three years before the
disability starts. You should contact Social Security to discuss the
specifics of your daughter’s situation.
Q - I never realized the complete importance of
Social Security benefits until recently. My wife is from New Orleans and
much of her family still lives there. She recently lost a relative in the
Hurricane Katrina disaster. Until this happened, we thought Social Security
survivors benefits were only for the elderly. Do many people make the same
A - The tendency is for most people to think of Social
Security as a retirement program. Yet Social Security survivors benefits are
among the cornerstones of support that can help families that have suffered
the worst consequences of an accident, disease, or even a disaster.
Each month, Social Security provides benefits to
American families across the country in which a working mother or father has
died as the result of an accident or illness. The average monthly payment
in 2005 for a family consisting of a widow or widower with two dependent
children is more than $1,900 per month.
Social Security now makes payments to more than 6½
million dependents of deceased workers, including almost two million
children. About 97 percent of men and women aged 20-49 have Social Security
survivors insurance through their payroll tax contributions, and the chances
are that you do, too.
The next time you receive your Social Security
Statement look for the line on page 2 that refers to potential survivors
benefits. That will tell you just what your family could expect in
survivors insurance benefit payments, based on your work history. If you
would like to learn more about these benefits, read our pamphlet, Social
Security Survivors Benefits. You can get a copy online at
www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10084.html. You can also request that a copy be
mailed to you by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
Q - I will be 62 in January and plan to retire from
my employer. When is the best time to apply for my Social Security benefits?
A - Now is the time to start applying for Social
Security retirement benefits if you plan to retire in January. We usually
encourage people to let us know about three months before the month they
plan to retire. So if you expect to retire in January, now is the time to
To complete your application for retirement benefits,
you can do what more than half a million people have done already –visit
www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire and apply for benefits by using our
The online application is more convenient than ever.
By using an “electronic signature,” you can safely send us your completed
application over the Internet with no need to print it and mail it in.
We will let you know if we need you to mail or bring in
other items, such as proof of age, earnings and marriage. So get an early
start by applying for your Social Security retirement benefits now. You can
also apply by calling us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or
by visiting your local Social Security office. And rest assured that your
retirement payments will be waiting for you in 2006.
Q - Has the cost-of-living increase for 2006 been
A - Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security
Income benefits for more than 52 million Americans will increase 4.1 percent
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income
benefits increase automatically each year based on the rise in the Bureau of
Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical
Workers (CPI-W), from the third quarter of the prior year to the
corresponding period of the current year.
This year's increase in the CPI-W was 4.1 percent.The
4.1 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that
more than 48 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2006.
Increased payments to 7 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries
will begin on December 30.
Some other changes that take effect in January of each
year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase,
the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable
maximum) will increase to $94,200 from $90,000.
It is important to note that no one’s Social Security
benefit will decrease as a result of the 2006 Medicare Part B premium
increase, announced last month. By law, the Part B premium increase cannot
be larger than a beneficiary’s COLA increase. Information about Medicare
changes for 2006 can be found at www.cms.hhs.gov.
Q - I am 57 years old and get Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) disability payments, which I desperately need to live on. I
recently inherited about $2,000 cash from my uncle. As soon as I cashed the
check, I put half of it in a burial fund. Will this small inheritance
affect my SSI eligibility?
A - In order to get SSI, you cannot have more than
$2,000 in countable resources. However, you can set aside up to $1,500 for
burial expenses, and it will not count toward your resources. That means
your new “countable resources” amount to $500, which alone won’t affect your
SSI eligibility. However, in the month when you received the inheritance,
the entire amount is considered income, so you would not be due your SSI
payment for that month. Because there are a lot of variables; you should
contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social
Security office to understand all the issues that are involved.
Q - Do we know what the Medicare Part B premium will
be in 2006?
A - The Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $88.50
in 2006, an increase of $10.30 from the current $78.20 premium.
Though the premium is rising, most Medicare
beneficiaries will see significantly lower out-of-pocket health care costs
in 2006. About one-fourth of Medicare beneficiaries can receive assistance
that pays for their entire Part B premium, and about one-third of
beneficiaries can receive assistance for their Part D premium. Beneficiaries
with incomes below 135 percent of poverty and limited resources are eligible
for assistance that pays for some or all of their Medicare premiums. This
would enable them to pay little or no premium for Part B, Part D, or both,
This would include most beneficiaries living on incomes
that come only from a monthly Social Security check. Also, many
beneficiaries with incomes between 135 percent and 150 percent of poverty
can get partial assistance with their Part D premiums.
In 2006, out-of-pocket costs for many Medicare
beneficiaries will also be reduced significantly by the new Medicare
prescription drug benefit. The average Part D monthly premium will be $32,
about 14 percent lower than had been projected, with plans in virtually all
areas of the country available for a premium of under $20 or even less.
The drug benefit will provide help with prescription
drug costs that for many beneficiaries will exceed the premium cost. On
average, the prescription drug benefit will reduce prescription drug costs
for the beneficiaries who now have no drug coverage by many hundreds of
Information on these and other programs that can help
beneficiaries lower their out-of-pocket costs is available at 1-800-MEDICARE
(1-800-633-4227), and for hearing and speech impaired at TTY/TTD:
Q - My dad, who has limited income, gets
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits because of serious physical
ailments, and is now beginning to develop Alzheimer’s disease. My sister
and I do not want him to live alone any longer and are looking to place him
in a nursing home so that he can get the care he needs. We wondered if and
how this might affect his SSI benefits?
A - Generally, if you enter a nursing home or hospital,
or other medical facility where Medicaid pays for more than half of the cost
of your care, your SSI benefit is limited to $30 a month.
If an SSI beneficiary enters or leaves a residential
institution, skilled nursing facility, nursing home or any other kind of
institution, Social Security needs to be notified. There are special rules
if you enter a medical institution for a stay of less than 90 days. Often,
you can keep getting your SSI if we learn about it right away.
Your doctor must sign a statement about how long you
will stay. Plus, you must sign a statement that you still need to pay
expenses for your home while you are in the institution. We need these
statements as soon as possible— but no later than the 90th day you are in
the institution, or the day you leave if that is earlier. We often work with
admissions offices so that the information we need is available quickly.
Q - I have Medicare Part A and Part B. I do not
qualify for the extra help that is available to pay for the upcoming
Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Is there a way for me to find out if the
new plan under Part D will save me money on my prescriptions?
A - Yes there is a way. Medicare has a cost estimator
so that you can see your out-of-pocket expense and the savings you would
realize under Part D.
According to the explanation provided by Medicare on
their web site, “The cost estimator assumes that you have no current drug
coverage or receive any type of discounts, such as from a drug discount
card, on your prescription drug cost.”
The cost estimator is very easy to use. All you need to
enter is what you spend monthly on prescription drugs. Once you enter that
amount and the state you live in, the estimator will give you a breakdown of
what your potential savings will be if you join a Medicare prescription drug
As Medicare states, “the cost estimator is a quick tool
to give you a sense of the savings you can anticipate with Medicare
Prescription Drug coverage. This tool is not able to take into account any
insurance you may have now for drugs. Therefore, if you currently have
insurance for drugs, the tool will not be able to compare current costs to
those you may have in the future if you switch to Medicare drug coverage.”
The cost estimator is great for those Medicare
beneficiaries and family members who want to get a picture of what they are
currently spending on prescriptions, what the Part D plan will pay, and what
the person can save with the plan. To access the cost estimator, go to
Q - Do disabled children qualify for Supplemental
Security Income Benefits?
A - There are two Social Security disability programs
that include disabled children. Under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
program, a child from birth to age 18 may receive monthly payments based on
disability or blindness if they have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets the definition of disability for children. In
addition, the income and resources of the parents and the child are within
the allowed limits.
Under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
program, an adult child (a person age 18 or older) may receive monthly
benefits based on disability or blindness if they have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets the definition of disability for
adults. They must also have a disability that began before age 22.
Plus, the adult child must have a parent who is
receiving retirement or disability benefits or is deceased but earned enough
credits to entitle their survivor family members to benefits. Under both of
these programs, the child must not be doing any "substantial" work, and must
have a medical condition that has lasted or is expected either to last for
at least 12 months or to result in death.
You will find helpful links to the online forms and the
steps you need to take to apply for childhood disability benefits at
www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. You can
also call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment to
apply for benefits.
Q - My husband and I have owned and operated a
business together for many years, but my Social Security Statement doesn't
show any earnings for me. We file joint income tax returns every year. What
happened to my share of our earnings?
A - If you and your husband own and operate a business
together and you share in the profits and losses, you may be entitled to
receive Social Security credits as a partner. This may be true even if you
and your husband have no formal partnership agreement. To receive credit for
your share of the business income, you must file a separate self-employment
return (Schedule SE) even though you and your husband file a joint income
tax return. If you don't file a separate Schedule SE, all the earnings from
the business will be reported under your husband's Social Security number.
In that case, your Social Security record will not show your earnings and
you may not get credit for them. If you have not filed Schedule SE for
yourself for past years, you may be able to file corrected tax returns for
past years. You should contact the Internal Revenue Service for more
information because there is a statute of limitations for correcting tax
Q - Is there an increase in premiums if I enroll in
Medicare after age 65 and what is a special enrollment period (SEP)?
A - Your premium will be increased if you do not apply
at age 65. Enrollment rules are very strict. Initially, you have seven
months to sign up for medical insurance (Medicare Part B). This seven-month
period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you
turn 65 and ends three months after that birthday.
If you enroll during the first three months of your
enrollment period, your medical insurance protection will start with the
month you are eligible. If you enroll during the last four months, your
protection will start one to three months after you enroll. If you do not
enroll during this initial enrollment period, each year you are given
another chance to sign up during a general enrollment period from January 1
through March 31. Your coverage begins the following July. Your monthly
premium increases 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible but
If you are covered by an employer or union group health
plan through your or your spouse's current or active employment, you may
qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP). The special enrollment period
is a period of time, during which you may enroll if you did not enroll
during your initial enrollment period because you are covered under a group
health plan based on your own current employment or the current employment
of any family member. The special enrollment period may occur during any
month you are covered under a group health plan based on current employment,
or during the 8-month period that begins the first full month after
employment or group health plan coverage ends, whichever comes first.
Q - I work in a job that is not covered by Social
Security, and will be eligible for a pension when I retire. My financial
advisor said that I can withdraw my contributions from the non-covered
pension system, with interest, and get out of the Government Pension Offset
(GPO). Is this correct?
A - It is true that if you withdraw your contributions
from the non-covered pension system and give up all rights to the pension,
you can avoid GPO. However, losing a lifetime pension (reflecting both
your contributions and your employer's contributions), is an important
decision and needs careful consideration. The GPO affects any benefits you
can receive on your spouse’s record. If you choose to withdraw your
contributions from the non-covered pension system in order to avoid the GPO,
you may do so at any point before you begin receiving the pension. You can
also be exempt from the windfall elimination provision (WEP) if you withdraw
your contributions to the non-covered pension system, but the rules for the
WEP are different. The WEP can reduce your own Social Security retirement
benefit. To be exempt from the WEP, you need to withdraw your contributions
before you become eligible for the pension from non-covered employment.
Q - I received a phone call from someone who said
they were with the West Corporation, calling on behalf of the Social
Security Administration about the “Application for Help with Medicare
Prescription Drug Plan Costs”. Was this call legitimate?
A - Yes. The Social Security Administration has
contracted with the NCS Pearson, Inc. and its partner, West Corporation to
conduct follow-up calls reminding individuals to complete and mail in the
Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (Form
SSA-1020). This is part of Social Security's effort to reach all people who
qualify for the extra help.
Q - My mother is unable to fill out the application
for the extra help with prescription drug costs. Can I help her complete it?
Does she have to sign it?
A - You can help your mother and complete the
application on her behalf. Relatives, friends, attorneys, advocates, social
workers and employees of government agencies are authorized to act on
someone's behalf if they are chosen by that person to do so. If she is
unable to sign, you can sign the application for her since you are acting as
her personal representative. We will send her a receipt after we get the
application. If she applies over the Internet at www.socialsecurity.gov,
you can print the receipt. We also will send a decision notice after all
the processing is complete.
Q - I am applying for Veteran’s Administration
benefits. I need proof of how much Social Security I receive so that I can
present that to my caseworker at the VA?
A - You can visit the Social Security website at
www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices/ and request a “Proof of Income”
This letter is sometimes called a “budget letter,” a
“benefits letter” or a “proof of award letter.” At the website you will be
asked a series of simple questions designed to verify your identity and to
protect your personal information. You can select the information you would
like on your proof of income letter. This means that you can also use it as
proof of a disability, of your current Medicare health insurance coverage,
of your retirement status or of your age.
Your Proof of Income letter will arrive in the mail in
about 10 days after you request it. It is important to remember, however,
that you can request a letter only for yourself. For example, if your
spouse also receives benefits then he or she must request a separate
letter. If you need proof sooner, you can contact your local Social
Q - What is Social Security doing to help those
people who did not receive their benefits because of Hurricane Katrina?
A - The Social Security Administration is doing
everything it can to ensure that monthly payments get to beneficiaries
affected by Hurricane Katrina. For paper checks, the United States Postal
Service (USPS) has suspended mail service in some areas damaged by Hurricane
Katrina. USPS is establishing temporary mail delivery stations so you can
pick up your Social Security check.
To help prevent identity fraud, USPS will ask you for a
photo ID. If you are not able to go to a temporary mail delivery station,
you can go to any open Social Security office and request an immediate
payment. If you receive your Social Security payment by direct deposit, your
Social Security payment is scheduled to be deposited to your account as
However, if you experience any difficulty getting your
payment, you can go to any open Social Security office and request an
immediate payment. In San Antonio, the Social Security Administration has
set up a temporary Social Security office at KellyUSA in Building 171 to
assist those who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. It is open Monday
through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Q - I have relatives who had to relocate from the
New Orleans area to San Antonio because of Hurricane Katrina. Some of them
receive Social Security benefits, but they did not get their checks because
of obvious reasons. Can the local Social Security offices help them?
A - Yes, the local offices can help. Anyone receiving
Social Security payments that have been interrupted by Hurricane Katrina can
go to any Social Security office to get an emergency payment. All Social
Security checks that were scheduled for delivery to residents in the areas
affected by Hurricane Katrina were printed and shipped from the U.S.
Treasury to the United States Postal Service (USPS) for delivery as usual.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients were scheduled to receive
paper checks on Thursday, September 1.
The Social Security beneficiaries were scheduled to
receive paper checks on the early check delivery date of Friday, September
2. Those who receive checks through direct deposit should have received
payment on schedule.
The Postal Service implements emergency procedures for
delivery of checks when a natural disaster occurs. Social Security is
working with the Louisiana Governor’s office to identify locations for
temporary mail delivery. Any Social Security field office can make payments
in critical cases. For information about changing mailing addresses, direct
deposit, or locating the nearest Social Security office, call 1-800-772-1213
or go online at
Q - My parents and I were discussing their
retirement plans. They seem to feel more secure about Social Security and
their future finances than I do about my own situation. I believe it is
because they are close to retirement age and their situation is more stable
than that of younger workers like myself. Why should I feel confident about
Social Security in my future?
A - The answer is based on Social Security’s history.
Social Security marked its 70th anniversary in August. Social Security
originally was envisioned as a program for retired workers. Since 1935, the
program has evolved to one that now covers the families of both retired and
deceased workers as well as those who can no longer work due to a
Social Security is the foundation of financial security
for almost every American family through its valuable package of retirement,
disability and survivors insurance. Today, our parents and grandparents can
feel confident their benefits are secure. However, the Social Security
system is facing serious future financing problems. The main reason for
Social Security’s long-range financing challenge is demographics. The news
is good - we are living longer and healthier lives than ever before.
When the Social Security program was created in 1935, a
65-year-old American had an average life expectancy of 12 1/2 more years;
today, it is 17 1/2 years and rising. This good news also means a strain on
Social Security’s finances. In just a few years, 78 million “baby boomers”
will begin retiring, and in about 30 years, there will be twice as many
older Americans as there are today.
At the same time, the number of workers paying into
Social Security per beneficiary will drop from 3.3 today to about 2 in 2031.
Social Security has evolved through the decades to meet the challenges
before it. It is important that we address these issues to ensure Social
Security continues to provide a foundation of protection for future
Q - Will a child age 19 and attending college/trade
school still be eligible to receive survivors benefits?
A - No. To receive benefits, the child must be under
age 18, or they must be 18-19 years old and a full-time student in a grade
no higher than grade 12. They can continue to receive benefits if they are
18 or older and disabled from a disability that started before age 22.
Normally, benefits stop when children reach age 18
unless they are disabled. Benefits can also stop if the child marries.
However, if the child is still a full-time student at a secondary (or
elementary) school at age 18, benefits generally can continue until the
child graduates or until two months after the child becomes age 19,
whichever is first.
Q - Is there a reason why I might not get a
A - Yes. You there are several reasons that you might
not get a Social Security Statement automatically. For example, Statements
are not sent to individuals if they are under age 25.
You will also not receive a Statement if you are
already receiving Social Security benefits on your record. You will also not
receive one if we cannot get a current mailing address for you.
In addition, you will not receive an automatic
Statement if you are age 62 or older and receiving Social Security benefits
on someone else's record. Lastly, a Statement will not be mailed to you if
you requested one within the past 11 months. If you do not get a Statement
automatically, you can request one online at www.socialsecurity.gov or call
1-800-772-1213 and ask for a request form SSA-7004 to mail in. You will
receive a Statement in the mail about 2 to 4 weeks after you request it
electronically or about 4 to 6 weeks after you mail us your request.
Q - I need to apply for retirement benefits. Can I
do this online?
A - Yes, you can. It is one of the services available
at our web site. More and more Americans are discovering the convenience and
speed of Social Security’s online services.
Instead of traveling to the local Social Security
office and waiting in line, many people are going online to our website and
conducting business from the comfort of their own homes. Here are just a few
of the many online transactions you can take care of by logging on when it
best suits your schedule.
First of all, Social Security’s Benefits Planner is a
great way to help you plan your financial future, whether you’re looking
ahead to retirement or determining what benefits you or your family may
qualify for in the unfortunate event of disability or death. Just key in
your estimated income and see what your benefit payments could be.
Secondly, you can apply for Social Security benefits.
People take advantage of our online benefit applications because they are a
convenient, easy way to apply for Social Security benefits.
Thirdly, if your Medicare card has been lost, stolen or
damaged, just visit our website to order a replacement. You’ll get it in
the mail about 30 days after requesting it.
Fourthly, find out if you can get extra help to pay for
the new Medicare prescription drug plan costs. Beginning in January 2006, a
new Medicare prescription drug program will go into effect that can help
beneficiaries with prescription drug costs. Social Security is now taking
applications from Medicare beneficiaries who may be eligible for extra help
to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments
under the new prescription drug program. You can go online to find out if
you are eligible for the extra help and complete an application.
All of these online services can be found at
www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices/ . Visit the link and join many
others now conducting their Social Security business online.
Q - My child has received a Social Security card.
Who should sign it?
A - Generally, the Social Security card should be
signed immediately by the person whose name is on the card, unless health or
age prevents a signature. A child may delay signing the card until old
enough to sign his or her name. A signature on the card is not required for
the card to be valid. Remember that Social Security cards should be kept in
a safe place. Avoid carrying them in your wallet or purse if at all
Q - Three years ago I was in a car accident that
left me partially-paralyzed. I get Social Security disability benefits and
Medicare. Will I also qualify for benefits under the new Medicare
prescription drug program?
A - Medicare’s new prescription drug program, which
goes into effect in January 2006, is not just for older Americans. Anyone
who is a Social Security disability beneficiary and is also entitled to
Medicare can enroll in the new prescription drug coverage program.
Open enrollment for the new plan runs from November 15,
2005, to May 15, 2006.
Social Security is now taking applications from
Medicare beneficiaries who may be eligible for extra help to pay for monthly
premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments under the new
prescription drug program. To qualify for the extra help, a person or
married couple living together must have limited income and resources. For
an individual, your total annual income must be below $14,355 and your
resources valued below $10,000. The limits for a married couple living
together are $19,245 in combined annual income and $20,000 in resources.
If you receive disability benefits from Social Security
and are working, some of your earnings might not count towards those income
and resource limits. In fact, less than half of your wages would be
counted. If you have expenses for things that you need in order to keep
working, they could be deducted from your earnings, too.
Social Security is now mailing letters to nearly 19
million Medicare beneficiaries who we have identified as potentially
eligible for this extra financial help. The letter includes an application
and a return-addressed, postage-paid envelope.
If you get this application, please read it, complete
it and return it to Social Security. If you did not get a letter and
application in the mail, but think you might qualify for the extra help, go
to our website at www.socialsecurity.gov. You can also contact Social
Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Q - I’m 67 years old and I have no other income but
my monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. My sister passed
away and left me a little money in her bank account. Will this extra money
affect my SSI benefits? Will my SSI payments stop?
A - The money inherited from your sister is considered
income in the month you received it and could make you ineligible for
benefits for that month, depending on the amount. If you still have the
money in the next month, it then becomes a part of your resources, or the
things that you own. You cannot have more than $2,000 in resources and
still continue to receive SSI. If your resources are less than $2,000 then
your benefits will continue. Also, you should remember that there are some
resources we don’t count, such as a car, the home you live in and funds set
aside for burial expenses. You should call Social Security at
1-800-772-1213, or you can also visit your local Social Security office to
report the inheritance. A Social Security representative can give you more
information and will let you know what effect, if any, the inheritance will
have on your benefits.
Q - My older sister told me that she received an
application from Social Security in the mail a few weeks ago about getting
some extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs. I did not get this
letter and application, but would also like to apply for any extra help that
might be available. My sister tells me that it might be more convenient and
quicker if I just applied online. Is that true?
A - Yes, you can apply online for the extra help to
meet the costs of the new Medicare prescription drug program. To qualify
for the extra help, a person or married couple living together must have
limited income and resources. The new benefit will be especially helpful to
those people who have Medicare, but do not have a private health insurance
or who do not have adequate prescription drug coverage to meet their needs.
To apply online, or to get more information about the extra help available
under the Medicare prescription drug program, just visit the Social Security
website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Q - My mother-in-law will be moving in with us for
awhile. She gets Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Since her
SSI payments are deposited directly to her bank account, does she need to
report the move to Social Security?
A - Yes. People who get SSI need to report any change
in living arrangements within 10 days. If your mother-in-law does not
report the change in time, she could end up receiving an incorrect payment
and have to pay that money back. Also, she needs to report her new address
to Social Security so that she can continue to receive mail from Social
Security when necessary. To report the change, she can visit her local
Social Security office or call Social Security’s toll-free number,
1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Q - My sister’s 34-year-old husband died suddenly of
a heart attack. She was pregnant with their only child when he died. Will
she and her child be eligible for any Social Security benefits, and if they
are, when should she apply?
A - Both your sister and her child would be eligible
for survivors benefits based on her husband’s work record if he had earned
enough credits. Social Security survivors benefits are paid to a widow or
widower at any age, if he or she is taking care of the deceased spouse's
child, who is under age 16 and receiving Social Security benefits. She
should contact Social Security as soon as possible after the child is born.
Q - It is fairly common to hear people say how
important it is to plan for retirement. What are some of the specific areas
that need to be addressed as we plan for retirement?
A - There are three rules that you may wish to
remember. Rule number one is know what Social Security will provide. How
much could you receive from Social Security when you retire?
If you are age 25 or older and you work, you should be
receiving a Social Security Statement in the mail each year about three
months before your birthday. The Statement shows how much you paid in
Social Security taxes through the years and what you might receive in
benefits at various retirement ages. We recommend that you keep a copy of
the Statement with your financial records.
Rule number two is to know what you must save. Social
Security never was intended to be your only source of retirement income.
Along with private pensions and savings, it was meant to be part of a
“three-legged stool” that supports your financial future. Only a little less
than half of workers have private pensions, and about a third have not yet
set aside any money specifically for retirement. If you do not intend to
work after “retiring” it is best to start saving as much as possible as soon
Rule number three is not to forget about your health
insurance. An unfortunate fact of life is that as we grow older we tend to
have more health problems. If you plan to retire early, you should make
sure that you will have either employer-provided or private health
insurance, since you will not be eligible for Medicare until age 65. If you
intend to retire at age 65 or older, you need to understand how Medicare
Part A and Part B coverage work. You should also know that you would be
responsible for Medicare premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.
For example, the monthly premium paid by beneficiaries
enrolled in Medicare Part B, which covers physician services, outpatient
hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment
and other items, is $78.20, and can rise each year. By keeping these three
rules in mind, you will be better prepared as you enter your retirement
Q - I am going to school and working part-time.
Does part-time work count for Social Security benefits?
A - Yes, part-time work does count for Social Security
benefits. As you work and pay taxes, you earn Social Security credits. In
2005, you earn one credit for each $920 in earnings -- up to a maximum of
four credits per year. The amount of money needed to earn one credit goes
up every year. The most you would need to qualify for any type of Social
Security benefit is 40 credits. This translates to about 10 years of work.
Also, younger people need fewer credits to be eligible for disability
benefits or for their family members to be eligible for survivors benefits
if they die.
Q - I plan to visit some relatives in Mexico for a
few months. Can I continue getting my monthly Supplemental Security Income
A - Your SSI benefit payments usually stop if you leave
the United States for 30 days or more. Since you are going to be away for
more than a month, your payments will be affected. It is important to tell
Social Security the date you plan to leave and the date you plan to come
back. Then we can let you know if your SSI will be affected and for which
Q - My parents are retired, on Medicare, and rely
almost totally on their Social Security checks to get by. They have been
using their savings to help pay for their prescription drug costs. I have
read about the new Medicare prescription drug plan, and about extra help
that will be available to help pay monthly premiums, annual deductibles and
prescription co-payments. Can my parents qualify?
A - In order to qualify for the extra help that is
available under the Medicare prescription drug coverage, individuals and
couples have to meet certain income and resource limits. Generally
speaking, married couples living together can have $19,245 in combined
In addition, their bank accounts, investments, cash and
other countable resources must be less than $20,000. This limit can be
slightly higher (an additional $1,500 per person) if they will be using some
of their money for burial expenses. If you have questions about what is and
is not counted as income or a resource, visit the Social Security website at
www.socialsecurity.gov or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). After
applying for extra help, beneficiaries also will need to enroll in a
Medicare-approved prescription drug plan between November 15, 2005 and May
Q - I’ve been receiving Social Security disability
benefits since I was a young adult and I’m now getting close to 50. Is
there a time limit on disability benefits?
A - No. You will continue to receive disability
benefits as long as you continue to have a severe disability that makes you
unable to work. Your condition will be reviewed from time to time, but your
benefits will not end because of how much you have received or how long you
have been getting benefits. If you still receive disability benefits when
you reach retirement age, nothing will change, including your monthly
benefit amount. But for Social Security purposes, your benefits will be
called retirement benefits instead of disability benefits.
Q - I have two children at home and I plan to retire
next fall. Will my children be eligible for monthly Social Security checks
after I retire?
A - Monthly Social Security payments may be made to a
worker's unmarried children under age 18, or age 19 if still in high school,
or children age 18 or over who were severely disabled before age 22 and who
continue to be disabled. The types of children who may qualify include the
worker's biological child; legally adopted child; and dependent stepchild.
Q - I am 66 years old and planning to retire. Once
I retire, how long will I have to wait before I actually get a check and be
able to pay my monthly bills?
A - First, it is important that you know that Social
Security benefits are not automatic. To receive benefits, a person must
apply for them. Social Security generally recommends that people apply for
retirement benefits about 3 months before they want benefit payments to
start. Social Security benefits are paid in the month following the month
for which they are due. For example, if your first month of entitlement is
August, you would receive your first Social Security benefit payment in
Q - My husband was convicted has been sentenced to
six months in jail. Will his Social Security retirement benefits be stopped?
A - If a Social Security beneficiary is convicted of a
crime and confined in a correctional institution for more than 30 continuous
days, we will suspend his or her Social Security benefits. It is important
that a beneficiary tell Social Security about such a confinement as soon as
possible to avoid getting money that is not due. To help comply with the
law, Social Security has agreements with each State and many local
Under these agreements, States and local jurisdictions
provide the names and Social Security numbers of people in their
correctional facilities. Once released, a person whose Social Security
benefits have been suspended because of being in a correctional institution
should contact the local Social Security office. Social Security will
decide if benefits should start again.
Q - What are the benefit amounts that a husband or
wife can receive?
A - A spouse receives one-half of the retired worker's
full benefit unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before full
retirement age. In that case, the amount of the spouse's benefit is
permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before
he/she reaches full retirement age.
For example, based on the full retirement age of 65, If
a spouse begins collecting benefits at 64, the benefit amount would be about
46 percent of the retired worker's full benefit. At age 63, it would be
about 42 percent, and at age 62, 37.5 percent.
However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is
under age 16 or disabled and receiving Social Security benefits, a spouse
gets full (one-half) benefits, regardless of age. If you are eligible for
both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay
your own benefit first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your
retirement benefit, you'll receive a combination of benefits equaling the
higher spouse's benefit.
Q - I received a letter telling me about Medicare’s
prescription drug plans and that I might qualify for help in paying for it.
Should I complete the application, and is it legitimate?
A - Yes, the letter is legitimate, and you should
complete the application.
Beginning in January 2006, Medicare will offer
prescription drug plans to beneficiaries. Now is the time to see if you
qualify for some extra financial help in paying for your monthly premiums,
annual deductibles and prescription co-payments under the new program.
From late May through mid-August, Social Security is
mailing letters to nearly 19 million people who are potentially eligible for
this extra help. The letter includes an application and a return-addressed,
postage-paid envelope. If you receive a letter in the mail, please read the
information carefully. The letter will explain the prescription drug
program, and tell you how to apply for the extra help.
Those who qualify for the extra help could save an
average of $2,100 per year. To qualify for the extra help, a person or
married couple living together must have limited income and resources. You
can qualify for this help as an individual if your total annual income is
below $14,355 and your resources are valued below $10,000. The limits for a
married couple living together are higher: $19,245 in combined annual
income and $20,000 in resources.
These resources can be slightly higher -- an additional
$1,500 per person -- if you will be using some of your money for burial
Even if your income is higher, you still may be able to
get some help if, for example, you or your spouse supports other family
members who live with you. There are also certain exclusions from both
income and resources. For example, your home and cars are not counted as
So if you think you might be eligible, you should
apply. Even if you do not get an application in the mail, you still might be
eligible for help with prescription drug costs. See if you might qualify
and apply online at Social Security’s website, www.socialsecurity.gov. You
also can contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 for more information or
to apply over the telephone.
Q - I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and
I also have Medicare. Do I need to complete the application to see if I
qualify for extra help in paying for my prescription drug plan?
A - Anyone who has both Medicare and Medicaid, or
Medicare and SSI, or anyone whose state pays his or her Medicare premiums,
will not have to complete an eligibility application. Even if you
automatically qualify for extra help, you still need to enroll in a
Medicare-approved prescription drug plan to obtain both coverage and the
extra help. For more information about getting extra help with Medicare
prescription drug costs, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY
1-800-325-0778), or visit www.socialsecurity.gov. To learn more about the
Medicare prescription drug plans, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or
Q - In her senior year of high school, my daughter
had a sporting accident that partially paralyzed her. It doesn’t look as if
she will be able to work in the near future, but she hasn’t had a job where
she paid Social Security taxes. Do disabled children qualify for benefits?
A - There are two Social Security disability programs
that include disabled children. Under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
program, an individual may receive monthly payments based on disability or
blindness. He or she must have an impairment or combination of impairments
that meets the definition of disability for children. In addition, the
income and resources of the parents and the child must be within the allowed
After a child reaches age 18, the parents’ income no
longer affects eligibility or payment amounts. Under the Social Security
Disability Insurance program, an adult child, a person age 18 or older, may
receive monthly benefits based on disability or blindness if he or she has
an impairment or combination of impairments that meets the definition of
disability for adults. The disability must have begun before age 22, and the
adult child's parent needs to have worked long enough to be insured under
Social Security and is receiving retirement or disability benefits or is
deceased. Under both of these programs, the child must not be doing any
"substantial" work, and must have a medical condition that has lasted or is
expected either to last for at least 12 months or to result in death.
Q - I need to talk to someone who can explain the
upcoming changes in Medicare. Can you tell me who can answer my question?
A - Sometimes the hardest part about getting a question
answered is knowing whom to ask. That can certainly be true if you, a
relative, or a friend has a question about a large government program such
The answer actually depends on the type of Medicare
question that you have. You should contact Social Security if you want to
sign up for Medicare Part A or Part B; you need a replacement Medicare card;
or you have questions about Medicare premiums. You can also contact Social
Security if you have questions about getting extra help to pay for the
prescription drug program that will begin on January 1, 2006.
For more information about these subjects or services,
you can visit the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov. You
can also call the Social Security toll free number at 1-800-772-1213.
If you have questions on the following areas, you
should contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Contact
CMS if you want general Medicare information; you have questions about
Medicare Part A or Part B coverage; you want information about Medicare
patients’ rights and appeal rights; you need information about nursing homes
or Medicare health plan choices in your area. You should also contact CMS if
you have questions about the new prescription drug program. If you want more
information about Medicare you should visit the website at www.medicare.gov,
or call 1-800-633-4227.
Another convenient reference source for Medicare
information is the Medicare & You handbook. If you need a copy, you can
call the Medicare toll-free number.
Q - Can you please provide the Internet link so that
I can subscribe to the Social Security electronic newsletter?
A - Here is the link: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/enews/
It might surprise you to know that nearly 300,500
subscribers received the last issue of eNews, Social Security’s monthly
electronic newsletter. This free service is a great way to stay on top of
important information related to your Social Security benefits. All we need
is your email address. This service is part of Social Security’s continuing
commitment to provide more responsive service to claimants and
beneficiaries. It reflects our ongoing efforts to improve service through
As eNews readers know, people can now apply online for
Social Security retirement, spouse’s and disability benefits. Other online
services allow people to find out if they may be eligible for benefits, or
locate their local Social Security office. Plus, individuals who are
receiving benefits may use the website to change their address or request a
Medicare card. As more and more people conduct business via the Internet,
these online services save significant time and effort.
Q - Why do some people get both Social Security
disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? I’m severely disabled
and only get SSI.
A - In order to get both you must qualify for both.
To get Social Security disability benefits, you need to
have worked long enough and recently enough and you need to have paid enough
Social Security taxes. If you are not receiving Social Security benefits,
that means you did not meet these qualifications.
SSI, on the other hand, makes payments to people with
low income and few resources who are disabled or blind, or who are age 65 or
older. Since Social Security is considered income, many people who get
Social Security have too much “income” to be eligible for SSI. But for
some, when the Social Security payment is a small amount, both Social
Security and SSI can be paid.
Q - The Internal Revenue Service has sent me a
letter saying money for overdue taxes may be taken from my Social Security
payments. Does Social Security allow that?
A - If you owe overdue taxes to the IRS, money can be
taken from your Social Security payments, reducing your payments by as much
as 15 percent a month. However, before this would happen, you would get a
letter from Social Security explaining how and why your benefits are being
Q - I received my Ticket to Work information last
year, but I decided not to use it at the time. Can I still use it, or has it
expired on me?
A - You can still use your Ticket to Work. It does not
become void if you decide not to use it.
Many people decide to take advantage of the Ticket to
Work when they are in a better position to return to work. The Ticket to
Work is a voluntary program that has important provisions to ensure that
people with disabilities no longer have to choose between keeping their
health care coverage and trying to go back to work.
Nearly all individuals receiving Social Security and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits have now received a
"ticket" that they can use to get free vocational rehabilitation, employment
or other support services from an approved provider of their choice. Social
Security pays providers for successfully helping a beneficiary go to work.
The Ticket to Work addresses some key areas for people
who are receiving disability benefits and wish to return to work. For
example, Medicare hospital insurance coverage now extends for eight years
and six months after most Social Security disability beneficiaries go to
work. Medicare coverage continues even if an individual no longer receives
a monthly benefit from Social Security.
The Ticket to Work has been a success. Within the last
few weeks, the number of individuals using a Ticket to Work passed the
90,000 mark. If you or someone you know is a person with disabilities who
would like to become one of the thousands of success stories that the Ticket
to Work program is creating, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/work
or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) for more
Q - I retired from the U.S. Army several years ago,
after 23 years of service, and receive a military pension. How will my
military retirement affect my Social Security benefits?
A - You can get both Social Security benefits and
military retirement. Generally, there is no offset of Social Security
benefits because of your military retirement. You will get your full Social
Security benefits based on your earnings. More information may be found in
our fact sheet called Military Service and Social Security, which is
available on the Internet at: www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10017.html
Q - My three children receive monthly survivors
benefits from Social Security. My oldest son will turn 18 on July 5, 2005.
Will his last payment be in June or July?
A - Your son’s benefits stop the month he becomes age
18 or the month he becomes 19 if he is still attending elementary or
secondary school full time. His last payment will be for the month of June
but he will receive his last payment in July. You will be notified by mail
before the last payment.
Q - I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). I
was told that my payment amount could change if I move in with a relative.
Why is that?
A - Your monthly benefit may vary depending on where
you live and whether someone else pays for your living expenses.
Generally, you can get up to the maximum SSI payment if
you live in your own place or if you live in someone else's home, but you
pay the full cost of your food and shelter. However, your SSI benefit may be
reduced if you live somewhere else and you pay only a part of your share of
food or housing costs.
The same is true if you live in a house, apartment, or
trailer but someone else pays for your food, rent, mortgage, and other
things like electricity. You also do not get the full SSI amount if you are
in a nursing home or hospital for the whole month and Medicaid pays for over
one-half of your bills.
The cost of living expenses such as food, clothing or
shelter that someone else provides may be considered income to you and could
reduce your SSI payment. Items you receive that cannot be used for food,
clothing or shelter are not considered income and will not affect your SSI
payment. So if you decide to move in with your relative, be sure to notify
Social Security immediately so we can determine the correct amount of your
Q - My wife and I have just received an application
in the mail for extra help in paying for Medicare prescription drugs. I am
unsure if we would be eligible for this program. Is there an easy way to
determine if we might qualify before we complete and mail the application?
A - Yes, there is. Social Security has created a
“Qualifier Tool” on its website at
Simply by entering information about your income and
things that you own, the qualifier tool tells you whether you probably
qualify or not for extra help with prescription drug costs.
Or you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY
1-800-325-0778) and request a copy of the work sheet, “What You Need To
Complete The Application For Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
The qualifier tool will ask you about your income and
the things that you own. We also will ask about your spouse's income and the
things that your spouse and both of you own, if you are married and living
together. You will need your and your spouse's financial documents such as
tax returns, award letters or statements for pensions or other income.
Generally, you would be eligible for the extra help if your resources such
as your savings, investments, and real estate (other than your home) are not
worth more than $11,500, if you are single, or $23,000 if you are married
and living with your spouse.
Q - I have been hearing about the Medicare
prescription drug coverage benefit that will begin next January. What
choices will I have if I already have prescription drug coverage through my
A - If you have prescription drug coverage from an
employer, you will get a notice from your employer sometime this fall that
tells you if your plan covers as much or more than a Medicare prescription
drug plan. You will have a couple of options if your employer or union plan
covers as much as or more than a Medicare prescription drug plan.
First of all, you can keep your current drug plan. If
you join a Medicare prescription drug plan later your monthly premium will
not be higher. Secondly, you can drop your current drug plan and join a
Medicare prescription drug plan, but you may not be able to get your
employer drug plan back.
You will also have options if your employer plan covers
less than a Medicare prescription drug plan. In that case you can keep your
current drug plan and join a Medicare prescription drug plan to give you
more complete prescription drug coverage.
You can also just keep your current drug plan. However,
if you join a Medicare prescription drug plan later, you will have to pay
more for the monthly premium.
In addition, you can drop your current drug plan and
join a Medicare prescription drug plan. The downfall here is that you may
not be able to get your employer drug plan back.
Q - I know you have mentioned the work limit for
people who want to receive Social Security and continue working. Can you
explain it again? I want to apply for benefits in a couple of months, but I
am still working.
A - You can work while you receive Social Security
retirement benefits. When you do, it could mean a higher benefit for you in
the future. Higher benefits can be important to you later in life and
increase the future benefit amounts your family and your survivors could
While you are working, your earnings will reduce your
benefit amount only until you reach your full retirement age. We use a
formula to determine how much your benefit must be reduced. If you are under
full retirement age for the entire year, we deduct $1 from your benefit
payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2005, that limit
In the year you reach full retirement age, we deduct $1
in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit, but we only count
earnings before the month you reach your full retirement age. If you reach
full retirement age in 2005, the limit on your earnings for the months
before full retirement age is $31,800.
Starting with the month you reach full retirement age,
you can get your benefits with no limit on your earnings. If you are not
already receiving benefits, be sure to contact us at the beginning of the
year you reach full retirement age. Even if you are still working, you may
be able to receive some or all of your benefits for the months before you
reach full retirement age.
Q. - Your recent columns have talked about how
people with Medicare can get help to pay for prescription medications. What
do we have to do to see if we qualify for this help?
A. - You may not have to do anything to get the extra
help that will help to pay for your prescription medications. Part D of
Medicare (prescription drug coverage) will not begin until January 1, 2006,
but you can already fill out an application to see if you will be able to
get extra help to pay for Part D.
If you have both Medicaid with
prescription drug coverage and Medicare, Medicare and Supplemental Security
Income, or if the State of Texas helps pay for your Medicare premiums, you
automatically will get this extra help. You do not have to do anything. You
do not even have to fill out an application for the extra help.
through August 2005, millions of Medicare beneficiaries who may be eligible
for the extra help will be mailed an “Application for Help with Medicare
Prescription Drug Plan Costs” (Form SSA-1020). If you receive an
application, you should complete and return it as soon as possible.
do not receive an application in the mail or do not want to wait, you can
get one by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. Beginning July 1,
2005, you can also apply on line at www.socialsecurity.gov.
After you apply
for the extra help, Social Security will review your application and send
you letter to let you know if you qualify for the extra help. If you
qualify, you will need to enroll in a Medicare-approved prescription drug
plan to get help with your prescription costs. You can select a plan between
November 15, 2005, and May 15, 2006. The earlier you enroll in a plan, the
sooner you can begin to save money on your prescription drugs.
Q. - Why does it take 2-4 weeks to receive a
response to my request for a Social Security Statement?
A. - The request for a Social Security Statement is
processed the day it is received. Once processed, the request is sent to a
vendor for printing. To receive the most economical mail rate, Statements
are mailed out in bulk. This would explain why it does not get to you right
Our experience to date indicates many people receive their Statements
within 10 days to two weeks from the time of their request. However, it
could take up to six weeks to receive a requested Statement. Remember that
you will not receive the automatically scheduled annual Statement for the
year if you request one online or over our toll-free number.
May 19, 2005
Q. - I am having trouble determining whether to
switch mom from her high cost private insurance which includes a
prescription benefit to a supplemental insurance and the new Medicare
prescription plan. Where can I get help with this decision?
A. - You can contact the State Health Insurance
Assistance Program at 1-800-252-9240 for help in choosing a Medicare health
plan or in buying supplemental health coverage. However, the Part D
Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will not be announced until at least
October. The enrollment for Part D plans will begin on November 15.
then, Medicare will be working with health insurance companies, pharmacies,
and other prescription coverage providers. Their goal is to come up with
a list of participants who will offer prescription drug coverage under
various plans through Part D. So you will not be able to compare your
mother's current prescription coverage with what will be available through
the Part D prescription plans until later this year.
What you can do now is
help your mother complete the application that will determine if she
qualifies for assistance in paying for the Part D prescription plans that
will be effective on January 1, 2006. By completing the application early,
your mother will know whether or not she can receive help in paying for the
Part D monthly premium and deductibles.
Social Security will start mailing
the applications to all Medicare beneficiaries on May 27 and continue until
August 15. You can request an application by calling our toll-free number at
1-800-772-1213. The Internet version of the application will be available on
July 1. If you visit www.socialsecurity.gov you can find more information
about this subject. There is even a tool that will help you decide if you
qualify for the extra help to pay for the Medicare prescription drug plan
Q. - My wife has also worked in the past and has
about 80 percent of her credits. Would it be better for her to go back to
work and obtain the missing credits, or let her draw on my social security?
A. - I really cannot give you a definitive answer, but
I can steer you in the right direction. Here is one way to look at the
You can get an idea of what your wife would receive on your
record when she turns 62. Her wife's benefit would be approximately 1/3 of
your full retirement benefit This is regardless of whether or not you elect
to start your own benefit early.
This would provide you with one half of the
answer you need to make the necessary comparison. In order to complete this
comparison, you would need to determine what your wife could receive on her
own record at age 62. If she still needs 20 percent of her credits, then she
needs 8 more credits. These credits can be earned with two more years of
Social Security covered earnings.
One credit in 2005 is equal to $920 in
Social Security covered earnings. You would need to access our online
benefit calculator to get an estimate for your wife's own retirement benefit
based on current and future earnings. The online calculator is located at
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/calculators.htm. Once you have her
retirement estimate, you can compare it to her wife's benefit estimate. The
higher of the two benefit amounts is what she can receive.
May 15, 2005
Q - I hear that Medicare is going to make some
changes next year. Is it true that Medicare will offer people a chance to
sign up for prescription drug coverage?
A - Beginning January 1, 2006, a new Medicare
prescription drug program called Part D will take effect. Anyone with
Medicare Part A and/or Part B can join a Medicare prescription drug plan.
Insurance companies and other private companies will work with Medicare to
offer these drug plans. They will negotiate discounts on drug prices.
plans are different from the Medicare-approved drug discount cards which
will be phased out by May 15, 2006, or when you coverage becomes effective
under a Medicare prescription drug plan.
People with Medicare can join a
Medicare prescription drug plan between November 15, 2005 and May 15, 2006.
If you join by December 31, 2005, your coverage will begin on January 1,
2006, and you will not miss a day of coverage.
If you join after that, your
coverage will be effective the first day of the month after the month you
join. Like other insurance, you will have a monthly premium (estimated to be
$35 in 2006).
You will have to pay for part of your prescriptions including
co-payments and deductibles. However, if your annual income is below $14,355
for an individual and $19,245 for a married couple, you may be able to get
extra help with your prescription drug costs. Starting in June 2005, Social
Security will begin to contact people to see if they qualify for the extra
help. For more information about getting extra help with your prescription
drug costs, call Social Security
Q - When my grandfather died, my grandmother
received a $255 death benefit. But when she died, Social Security told me
that I couldn’t get this lump-sum death payment. Why not?
A - A lump-sum death benefit of $255 may be paid when a person dies who has
worked long enough to be insured under the Social Security program. The
lump-sum death benefit can be paid upon the death of the insured person even
if he or she were not receiving retirement or disability benefits at the
time of death. This payment can only be made to a spouse who was living
with the worker at the time of death or to a spouse or a child who, in the
month of death, is eligible for a Social Security benefit based on the
worker's record. If no spouse or child meets the requirements, the benefit
can not be paid. For more information about survivors benefits, call Social
Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the publication
Survivors Benefits or get it online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10084.html
May 5, 2005
Q - How long will it take to receive my Social
Security Statement if I request it online? Do I have to provide very much
personal information to request it?
A - Our web site, www.socialsecurity.gov allows you to
transmit your request for a Social Security Statement using an online form.
However, we do not send your Statement information back on the Internet.
Instead, you will receive a response to your request by U.S. mail in 2-4
Your Statement will include a record of your earnings
history and an estimate of how much you and your employer paid in Social
Security taxes. It will also estimate the benefits you and your family may
be eligible for now and in the future.
You will need to furnish your name as shown on your
Social Security Card, your Social Security Number, date of birth, place of
birth, and your mother's maiden name - last name only (to help identify
you). We can also give you better benefit estimates if you also give us your
last years' earnings.
You also have the option of giving us an estimate of
your current and future earnings along with the age at which you plan to
stop work. You should realize that if you automatically receive a Social
Security Statement about three months before your birthday each year, this
request will stop your next scheduled mailing. You won't receive another
automatic Statement until the following year.
Q - I did not enroll in Part B of Medicare when I
turned 65 because I was still working and had health coverage through my
employer. I will be retiring from my employer on May 31. If I sign up for
Part B in June when will it become effective?
A - Under the Special Enrollment Period rules, your
Part B would become effective on June 1. You can sign up for the Part B
during the 8 months following the month the employer or union group health
plan coverage ends, or when the employment ends, whichever is first. If you
enroll in Medicare Part B while covered by your employer’s group health plan
or during the first full month after coverage ends, your Medicare Part B
coverage starts on the first day of the month you enroll.
If you enroll during any of the 7 remaining months of
the Special Enrollment Period, your Medicare Part B coverage begins the
month after you enroll. The Special Enrollment Period allows you to delay
the start of your Part B if you or your spouse are still working at age 65
and have group health plan coverage. If you do not enroll in Medicare Part B
during your Special Enrollment Period or during the Initial Enrollment
Period, you will have to wait until the next General Enrollment Period (GEP).
The GEP begins on January 1 and ends on March 31 of
each year. If you sign up for Part B during the GEP, you may have to pay a
higher Medicare Part B premium because you did not enroll in Medicare Part B
when you were first eligible. Please call the Social Security Administration
at 1-800-772-1213 for more information or to enroll in Medicare.
April 25, 2005
Q - Can a working Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
recipient lose their Medicaid coverage because of their earnings from work?
A - One of the biggest concerns SSI recipients have
about going to work is the possibility of losing Medicaid coverage. Section
1619(b) of the Social Security Act provides some protection for these
recipients. To qualify for continuing Medicaid coverage, a person must meet
the following rules.
They must have been eligible for an SSI cash payment
for at least one month and still meet the disability requirements.
Plus, they must meet all the SSI non-disability
requirements pertaining to income and resources. They must need Medicaid
benefits to continue to work.
Finally, their gross earnings must be insufficient to
replace SSI, Medicaid, and any publicly funded attendant care services. This
means that SSI recipients who have earnings too high for an SSI cash payment
can still be eligible for Medicaid. Social Security uses a threshold amount
to measure whether a person’s earnings are high enough to replace their SSI
and Medicaid benefits.
For more information, including the threshold amounts
for each State, please see:
Q - Does Social Security pay benefits until a person
dies or is there a time period for receiving benefits? With people living
longer lives it seems that there will be a lot of baby boomers receiving
benefits for a longer period of time.
A - Social Security benefits are lifetime benefits.
This brings up an interesting point about planning for retirement.
In 1935, the life expectancy of a 65-year-old was 77½.
Today it is 82½, and rising. Many Americans are living long beyond this
expectation. Of course, longer lives mean that Americans need to plan even
more carefully for the future. As more Americans are able to enjoy longer
lives, it is important that they also have enough income to provide for
those additional years.
The Social Security program provides an economic
foundation for older Americans. Social Security pays monthly retirement
benefits to more than 32 million retired workers and their family members.
More than nine in 10 Americans who are age 65 or older get Social Security
The average monthly Social Security benefit for a
retired worker is about $955; the average monthly benefit for a retired
worker and his or her spouse is about $1,575. Still, Social Security is
only a financial foundation for retirement.
Older Americans Month might also be a good time for all
workers to assess their financial prospects for actually being able to
“celebrate long-term living.” A good first step would be to take a look at
your Social Security Statement. It will tell you how much to expect from
Social Security. Then you can make plans to supplement your Social Security
benefits with pensions, savings and other investments. The important thing
to remember is not to delay making financial plans for a long and happy
As one observer has noted, “It is not enough to add
more years to life; our goal must also be to add more life to those years.”
April 19, 2005
Q. - I’ve been getting Social Security disability
benefits for a few years now. I’m scheduled for a medical review next
month. What should I expect?
A - As a part of your medical review, you will be asked
to provide information about your medical treatment and any changes in your
medical condition, as well as information on any work you may have done.
Then a team consisting of a disability examiner and a doctor will review
your file and request your medical reports. You might be asked to have a
special examination, which Social Security will pay for. The agency will
send you a letter indicating whether it still considers you to be disabled.
For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
Q. - Why do some people
get both Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
I’m severely disabled and only get SSI.
A - In order to get both you
must qualify for both. To get Social Security disability benefits, you need
to have worked long enough and recently enough and you need to have paid
enough Social Security taxes. If you are not receiving Social Security
benefits, it means you did not meet these qualifications. SSI, on the other
hand, makes payments to people with low income and few resources who are
disabled or blind, or who are age 65 or older. Since Social Security is
considered income, many people who get Social Security have too much
“income” to be eligible for SSI. For some, when the Social Security payment
is a small amount, both Social Security and SSI can be paid.
Q. - I am applying for a mortgage on a condominium
in a new retirement community. The bank wants proof of how much money I
receive from Social Security each month. What can I use as proof of my
A - Each year Social Security sends you an SSA-1099
Form showing the amount of benefits you received in the past year. You can
use this as proof. If you did not keep this document, you may request a
replacement at www.socialsecurity.gov/1099/ or
by calling Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY
Q. - My Statement says I can get $1100 at
full-retirement and my wife's Statement says she can get $800. Is there a
maximum on how much we can get together as a couple?
A - The "family maximum" amount applies only when
benefits are being paid to several people on one record. For example, if
your wife and perhaps one or two minor children were getting benefits on
your record, there would be a limit on how much we could pay all of you
together on that record. Because you and your wife are each eligible on your
own records, the maximum limit does not apply to you.
April 8, 2005
Q - For the past three year I have had to pay
federal income tax on a part of the Social Security benefit I received the
previous year. I would rather sign up for the voluntary withholding of
income tax from my monthly benefit. I know you have covered this before, but
could you do so again?
A -This is the perfect time to go over this subject
since this year’s tax season will soon be over. Now is the time to decide
if there is anything you could do to make the filing of your tax returns
easier when next April rolls around.
If you found that you owed federal taxes on your income
this year, you may want to consider having federal income taxes withheld
from your monthly Social Security benefit payment.
Although you are not required to have federal taxes
withheld, you may find it easier than paying quarterly estimated tax
payments. About one-third of all people receiving Social Security benefits
have to pay taxes on their benefits. This is true for individuals filing a
federal tax return on total income of more than $25,000, and for married
couples filing a federal tax return on total income of more than $32,000.
If you are interested in taking the easy route to
paying taxes, here is what you need to do. You must complete IRS Form W-4V,
the Voluntary Withholding Request, and select the percentage of your monthly
benefit amount you want withheld -- 7, 15, 28 or 31 percent. You cannot
designate specific dollar amounts.
After you have made your selection, sign and return the
form to your local Social Security office by mail or in person.
To get Form W-4V, you can call the IRS toll free
number, 1-800-829-3676, or you can download the form from our website at
If you have any questions about voluntary tax
withholding from Social Security benefit payments, visit us at
www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10077.html. Or call
1-800-772-1213 and ask for the booklet, “Social Security—What You Need to
Know When You Get Retirement or Survivors Benefits.”
Q - How can Social Security deny disability benefits to
someone who is obviously suffering from a severe condition?
A -In addition to meeting the Social Security medical
definition of disability, you also must have worked long enough and you must
have worked recently enough under Social Security to qualify.
Some people who may think they are eligible actually
are not. Eligibility for disability benefits is based on your Social
Security work credits, which are based on your total yearly wages or
self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year. The
amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. In 2005, for example,
you earn one credit for each $920 earned; when you've earned $3,680, you
would have your four credits for the year.
The number of work credits you need to qualify for
disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled.
There is a convenient chart which shows the credits
needed at just a glance. It is located at
The Social Security Statement that you receive each
year is a good way to monitor your eligibility. The Statement shows all
earnings reported to date, and also provides an estimate of the benefits for
which you are eligible.
While most people who work regularly will not have a
problem keeping their disability coverage current, people who move in and
out of the workforce, or in and out of covered employment, may not be
covered. You more information you can call 1-800-772-1213 and ask for the
news about Social Security -