Social Security FAQs

 

 

Question:

How many Social Security numbers have been issued since the program started?

 

Answer:

Since 1935, we have assigned more than 465 million Social Security numbers and each year we assign about 5.5 million new numbers. With approximately 1 billion combinations of the 9-digit Social Security number, the current system will provide us with enough new numbers for several generations into the future. To learn more about Social Security numbers and cards, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10002.html.

 

Question:

 

My daughter just joined a non-profit charity and is helping victims of natural disasters. She gets a salary. We were wondering if she has to pay Social Security tax.

 

Answer:

 

Yes, people who work for non-profits and who receive a salary must pay Social Security tax just like everyone else. It is commendable that she is helping people in need. But the fact is that she is also a wage-earner. Those wages and the Social Security tax she pays on them will offer her financial relief in the future, when it comes time to apply for Social Security. So she is really helping herself, too. For more information, visit our electronic publication, How You Earn Credits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

 

Retirement

 

Question:

My father receives Social Security retirement benefits, and I will be in charge of his estate when he dies. Should that occur, do I need to report his death to Social Security or will benefits automatically stop?

 

Answer:

When your father dies, please notify Social Security as soon as possible by calling us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Another person, such as a spouse, may be eligible for survivors benefits based on his record. Also, we might be able to pay a one-time payment of $255 to help with funeral expenses. We suggest reading a copy of our online publication, How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10008.html.

 

Question:

Can I delay my retirement benefits and receive benefits as a spouse only? How does that work?

 

Answer:

It depends on your date of birth. If you were born on or before 01/01/1954 and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you can apply for retirement benefits on your spouse’s record as long as you are at your full retirement age. You then will earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70, as long as you do not collect benefits on your own work record. Later, when you do begin receiving benefits on your own record, those payments could very well be higher than they would have been otherwise. If your spouse is also full retirement age and does not receive benefits, your spouse will have to apply for benefits and request the payments be suspended. Then you can receive benefits on your spouse’s Social Security record.

If you were born on or after 01/02/1954, and you wish to receive benefits, you must file for all benefits for which you are eligible. The Social Security Administration will determine the benefits you are eligible for and pay you accordingly. For individuals born on or after 01/02/1954, there is no longer an option to select which benefit you would like to receive, even beyond your full retirement age. Widows are an exception, as they can choose to take their deceased spouse’s benefit without filing for their own. For more information, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

Disability

 

Question:

I have been getting Social Security disability benefits for many years. I’m about to hit my full retirement age. What will happen to my disability benefits?

 

Answer:

When you reach “full retirement age” we will switch you from disability to retirement benefits. But you won’t even notice the change because your benefit amount will stay the same. It’s just that when you reach retirement age, we consider you to be a “retiree” and not a disability beneficiary. To learn more, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

Question:

I need to apply for disability benefits. Where do I start?

 

Answer:

Begin by looking at our Disability Starter Kit. You can find it online at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits.htm or you can request a copy by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). The Disability Starter Kit will help you prepare for your application and interview. When you are ready, you can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability or make an appointment to apply in person at a local Social Security office. And remember, our online disability application is convenient and secure. Don’t stand in line, go online at www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

Supplemental Security Income

 

Question:

I’m on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and live with my two brothers in an apartment. My SSI payment is cut by one-third because the Social Security office says I don’t pay enough of the household expenses. How much of the expenses must I pay in order to get the full SSI rate?

 

Answer:

Under the rules of the program, you must be paying an equal share of the expenses. Because there are three of you in the household, you must pay one-third of the expenses. If you are not paying an equal share of the rent, utilities, groceries, and other household expenses, your SSI payment must be reduced. To learn more, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

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 as it is 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.

 

Medicare

 

Question:

If I retire at age 62, will I be eligible for Medicare?

 

Answer:

No. Medicare starts when you reach 65. If you retire at 62, you may be able to continue medical insurance coverage through your employer or purchase it from a private insurance company until you become eligible for Medicare. For more information see our publication, Medicare, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs, or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Question:

I will rely on Medicare when I retire. Can you explain the different parts of Medicare?

 

Answer:
The different parts of Medicare coveryour specific needs.There are four parts, all of which work in tandem to deliver healthcare services.

  • Part A (hospital insurance): Hospital insurance helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay), some home health care, and hospice care.
  • Part B (medical insurance): Medical insurance helps pay for doctors’ services and many other medical services and supplies that hospital insurance doesn’t cover.
  • Part C (Medicare Advantage plans): If you have Medicare Parts A and B, you can join a Medicare Advantage plan. Private companies offer Medicare Advantage plans which are approved by Medicare. These plans generally help you pay the medical costs not covered by Medicare Part A and B.
  • Part D (prescription drug coverage): Prescription drug coverage helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for treatment.

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