Social Security Getting Questions About Returning to
Also questions about disability, benefits for
children and working for federal government
29, 2013 The questions this week for Oscar Garcia,
Informational Specialist with the Social Security Administration seem to
indicate at least some seniors are considering returning to work. And,
as always, many have questions about benefits for their family members.
Will my benefit amount be reduced if I return to
work part time and pay less into Social Security?
If you are currently receiving benefits and you
work, your benefit amount may be lower than it would if you had
continued in your previous job paying the maximum. But remember, we
calculate your benefit based on the highest 35 years of earnings.
If you do not have 35 years of earnings, we will
use all of the earnings on your record. We will factor in an annual
earnings total of $0.00 for each remaining year. Therefore, higher
lifetime earnings result in higher benefits.
If you do not currently receive Social Security
benefits and begin receiving benefits at age 62, the earliest possible
age you can receive retirement benefits, your benefit amount will always
be lower than it would if you had waited until full retirement age.
For more information, read our publication Your
Retirement Benefit: How It Is Figured or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY
1-800-325-0778) 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. The publication
can be accessed by using the Search box on our website at
Can my 16 and 17 year-old children get benefits
on my record if I start receiving benefits?
When you qualify for Social Security retirement
benefits, your unmarried children also may qualify to receive benefits
on your record. Eligible children can be your biological child, adopted
child or stepchild. A dependent grandchild also may qualify.
To receive benefits, your unmarried child must be
younger than age 18. If they are between 18-19 years old, then they must
be in elementary or secondary school as full time students. Social
Security pays benefits through grade 12.
We do not pay students who are in college, unless
they are age 18 or older and severely disabled (the disability must
have started before age 22). Each child may receive a monthly payment up
to one-half of your full retirement benefit amount. However, there is a
limit to the amount paid to you and your family. The limit varies,
but is generally equal to about 150 to 180 percent of your retirement
I had a serious leg injury three years ago and
received disability benefits for about 19 months until I could return to
work. Unfortunately, my leg problems have returned and I may not be able
to continue working much longer. When I first applied for benefits, I
waited five full months before I was eligible to receive my first check.
If I reapply for benefits, will I again be subject to this waiting
No. If you become disabled a second time within
five years after your previous disability benefits stopped, there is no
five-month waiting period before benefits start. If your claim is
approved, you can receive benefits for the first full month of
However, 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.
Was I covered by Social Security when I
worked for the federal government some years ago?
It depends for which retirement system you worked.
If you paid Social Security tax on your earnings, you are covered. Up
until 1984, workers for the federal government were covered under the
Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).
If you worked for a federal agency during these
years, you did not pay Social Security tax on your earnings and you were
not covered by Social Security. In 1984, a second retirement system, the
Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), was introduced. Federal
workers hired under FERS are covered by Social Security because they pay
Social Security taxes.
Also, some workers covered by CSRS chose to switch
to FERS. They, too, pay Social Security taxes and are covered by Social
Security while under FERS. However, the earnings from any government
employment under CSRS are not counted towards computing your Social
Both workers under FERS and CSRS workers are
covered under the Medicare program because they pay Medicare taxes on
their federal earnings. If you are, or were, a government employee under
CSRS, then you need to speak with a Social Security representative to
find out how that employment can impact your Social Security benefits.
There are rules that can reduce Social Security retirement benefits as
well as reduce or prohibit you from receiving Social Security spousal
benefits. These rules apply to any type of government employment where
you did not pay into Social Security.
Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with
the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him
at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can
also email him at
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