Social Security questions and answers

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

GENERAL

Question:

How can I get a copy of my Social Security Statement?

Answer:

If you are age 18 or older, you may get your Social Security Statement conveniently online at any time after creating an account at www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement. The Statement provides estimates for retirement, disability and survivors benefits, as well as a way to determine whether your earnings are accurately posted to your Social Security record. Social Security sends paper Social Security Statements in the mail only to people age 60 and older and, beginning July 2012, to workers the year they turn 25. If this applies to you, you should receive your Statement about two to three months before your birthday. Also, you can get an instant, personalized estimate of your future retirement benefit using our online Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Question:

My child, who gets Social Security, will be attending his last year of high school in the fall. He turns 19 in a few months. Do I need to fill out a form for his benefits to continue?

Answer:

Yes. You should receive a form, SSA-1372-BK, in the mail about three months before your son's birthday. Your son needs to complete the form and take it to his school's office for certification. Then, you need to return page two and the certified page three back to Social Security for processing. If you can't find the form we mailed to you, you can find it online at the following address: www.socialsecurity.gov/schoolofficials/ssa1372.pdf.

RETIREMENT

Question:

My neighbor, who is retired, told me that the income he receives from his part-time job at the local nursery gives him an increase in his Social Security benefits. Is that right?

Answer:

Retirees who return to work after they start receiving benefits may be able to receive a higher benefit based on those earnings. This is because Social Security automatically re-computes the retirement benefit after crediting the additional earnings to the individual's earnings record. Learn more by reading the publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10069.html.

Question:

I plan to retire soon. When are Social Security benefits paid?

Answer:

Social Security benefits are paid each month. Generally, new retirees receive their benefits on either the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of each month, depending on the day in the month the retiree was born. If you receive benefits as a spouse, your benefit payment date will be determined by your spouse's birth date.

Here's a chart showing how your monthly payment date is determined:

Day of the Month You Were BornSocial Security Benefits Paid On
1st-10thSecond Wednesday
11th-20thThird Wednesday
21st-31stFourth Wednesday

For a calendar showing actual payment dates for 2012, see the Schedule of Social Security Benefit Payments at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/calendar.htm.

SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME

Question:

What is the difference between Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability?

Answer:

Social Security administers two major programs that provide benefits based on disability: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI benefits are based on prior work under Social Security, and are financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons. To be eligible for an SSDI benefit, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be "insured" for Social Security purposes.

SSI payments are made on the basis of financial need and are financed through general tax revenues. Adults or children who are disabled or blind, and have limited income and resources, may be eligible for SSI disability. The monthly payment varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate, which may be supplemented by the state or decreased by income. Learn more by reading our publications, Supplemental Security Income, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11000.html, and Disability Benefits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html.

Question:

Can I get both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security benefits based on my disability?

Answer:

Many people eligible for Social Security disability benefits also may be eligible for SSI. The disability decision for one program is the same for the other, but you must meet additional resource and income limits to qualify for SSI benefits. Learn all about SSI and whether or not you may qualify by reading the publication, You May Be Able To Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11069.html.

DISABILITY

Question:

Is there a time limit on collecting Social Security disability benefits?

Answer:

Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition does not improve and you remain unable to work. We will review your case at regular intervals to make sure you are still disabled. If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, we will automatically convert them to retirement benefits. Learn more by reading our publication, Disability Benefits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html.

Question:

I get Social Security because of a disability. How often will my case be reviewed to determine if I'm still eligible?

Answer:

How often we review your medical condition depends on how severe it is and the likelihood it will improve. Your award notice tells you when you can expect your first review using the following terminology:

* Medical improvement expected--If your condition is expected to improve within a specific time, your first review will be six to 18 months after you started getting disability benefits.

* Medical improvement possible--If improvement in your medical condition is possible, your case will be reviewed about every three years.

* Medical improvement not expected--If your medical condition is unlikely to improve, your case will be reviewed about once every five to seven years.

MEDICARE

Question:

Will my eligibility for the Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs be reviewed and, if so, how often?

Answer:

If you get the Extra Help, Social Security may contact you to review your status. This reassessment will ensure you remain eligible for Extra Help and you are receiving all the benefits you deserve. Annually, usually at the end of August, we may send you a form to complete: "Social Security Administration Review of Your Eligibility for Extra Help." You will have 30 days to complete and return this form. Any necessary adjustments to the Extra Help will be effective in January of the following year. For example, if we send you a review form in August 2012 and you return the form within 30 days, any necessary adjustment to your Extra Help will be effective in January 2013.

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