Social Security Q&A

By Becky Whitlow, Social Security District Manager, Springfield, IL

AdobeStock_77872520General

Question:

Can I refuse to give my Social Security number to a private business?

Answer:

Yes, you can refuse to disclose your Social Security number, and you should be careful about giving out your number. But, be aware, the person requesting your number can refuse services if you don’t give it. Businesses, banks, schools, private agencies, etc., are free to request someone’s number and use it for any purpose that doesn’t violate a federal or state law. To learn more about your Social Security number, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

 

Question:

I am receiving Social Security retirement benefits and I recently went back to work. Do I have to pay Social Security (FICA) taxes on my income?

Answer:

Yes. By law, your employer must withhold FICA taxes from your paycheck. Although you are retired, you do receive credit for those new earnings. Each year Social Security automatically credits the new earnings and, if your new earnings are higher than in any earlier year used to calculate your current benefit, your monthly benefit could increase. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Retirement

Question:

I served in the military, and I’ll receive a military pension when I retire. Will that affect my Social Security benefits?

 Answer:

You can get both Social Security retirement benefits and military retirement at the same time. Generally, we don’t reduce your Social Security benefits because of your military benefits. When you’re ready to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. This is the fastest and easiest way to apply. For your convenience, you can always save your progress during your application and complete it later. And thank you for your military service!

 

Question:

How are my retirement benefits calculated?

Answer:

Your Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over your lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or “indexed” to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then we calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit. This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age. You may be able to estimate your benefit by using our Retirement Estimator which offers estimates based on your Social Security earnings. You can find the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Disability

Question:

Why is there a five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?

Answer:

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

 

Question:

I am 57 years old and I currently receive Social Security disability benefits. Can I still get my regular Social Security retirement benefits when I reach full retirement age?

Answer:

If you are still receiving Social Security disability benefits when you reach your full retirement age, we will automatically switch you from disability benefits to retirement benefits at that point. The money amount will remain the same. For more information, visit our website on disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

Supplemental Security Income

Question:

Is it true that a person can own a home and still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

Answer:

Yes. A person who owns a home and lives in that home can be eligible for SSI benefits. Although there is an asset limit for people to qualify for SSI, some things don’t count toward that limit, such as a house, a vehicle, and some funds set aside for burial expenses. To learn more about SSI and the eligibility requirements, browse our booklet, Supplemental Security Income at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11000.html.

 

Question:

I’m 38 years old and have been approved to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. I was surprised to learn that my payment will be reduced because I live with my mom. Why’s that?

Answer:

SSI is a needs-based program, so any other income you receive — including non-monetary income such as help with your bills or other expenses — can have an effect on your benefit payment. Your SSI payments may be reduced if you are receiving food, shelter, or monetary assistance. If you move, or if the situation in your mom’s household changes, be sure to contact Social Security. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi.

Medicare

Question:

I’m 65, not ready to retire, but I want to apply for my Medicare coverage. How can I do that?

Answer:

The easiest and most convenient way is to apply online! Use our online application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. You’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail. It’s convenient, quick, and easy. There’s no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. Get started today at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly.

 

Question:

I didn’t enroll in Medicare Part B back when my Part A started a few years ago. Can I enroll now?

Answer:

It depends. The general enrollment period for Medicare Part B, medical insurance, begins January 1 and runs through March 31. Keep in mind that although there is no monthly premium for Medicare Part A, there will be a premium for your Medicare Part B. And in most cases, that premium goes up each 12-month period you were eligible for it and elected not to enroll. If you are covered by a group healthcare plan based on your employment or the employment of a spouse, you may qualify for a special enrollment. Special enrollments may be processed at any point during the year, but require proof of coverage. To find out more about Medicare, visit www.medicare.gov or www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare.

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