By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Question: I lost my Social Security card, but I remember my number. Do I really need a new card?
Answer: No, probably not—but it is important to know your number. The only time you may need the Social Security card is if your employer asks for it when you get a new job. If you do decide to get a new card or your lost one turns up, don’t carry it with you. Keep it with your other important documents. Generally, you are limited to three replacement cards a year and 10 cards during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. Keep in mind this is a free service. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
Question: I noticed that my date of birth in Social Security’s records is wrong. How do I get that corrected?
Answer: To change the date of birth shown on our records, take the following steps:
Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
Show us documents proving:
U.S. citizenship (if you have not previously established your citizenship with us);
Take (or mail) your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office.
Note that all documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. For details on the documents you’ll need, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ss5doc.
Question: What type of information will I need to provide if I’d like to apply online for Social Security retirement benefits?
Answer: Whether you apply for retirement benefits online, by phone or in an office, we suggest that you have the following information at hand when you do it—it will make completing the application easier for you.
Your birthdate, place of birth and Social Security number;
Your bank account number and your bank’s routing number, for direct deposit;
The amount of money you earned last year and this year. If you are applying for benefits in the months of September through December, you may also need to provide an estimate of what you expect to earn next year if you plan to continue working;
The name and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year;
The beginning and ending dates of any active military service you had prior to 1968; and
The name, Social Security number and date of birth of your current and any former spouses.
Depending on your situation, you may need to provide additional documentation with your application. We’ll give you instructions on how to mail or bring it to us. To get started, visit our Retirement Planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2.
Question: I am 65 and my wife is 62 and receiving spouse’s benefits. When will she qualify for Medicare benefits?
Answer: Most people must wait until age 65 to qualify for Medicare benefits. Some people can get Medicare at any age, including those who:
Have been getting Social Security disability benefits for 24 months or more;
Have kidney failure and require dialysis;
Have had a kidney transplant; or
Receive disability benefits because they suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
You can apply online for Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly.
Question: What are the requirements for receiving disabled widow’s benefits?
Answer: You may be able to get disabled widow(er)’s benefits at age 50 if you meet Social Security’s disability requirement. Your disability must have started before age 60 and within seven years of the latest of the following dates: the month the worker died; the last month you were entitled to survivors benefits on the worker’s record as a parent caring for a surviving minor child; the month your previous entitlement to disabled widow(er)’s benefits ended because your disability ended. To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/dibplan/dqualify9.htm.
Question: I understand that to get Social Security disability benefits, my disability must last at least a year or be expected to result in death. But I’m disabled now. Does this mean that I must wait a year after becoming disabled before I can receive benefits?
Answer: No. You do not have to wait a year after becoming disabled. If you’re disabled and expect to be out of work for at least a year, you should apply for disability benefits right away. It can take months to process an application for disability benefits. If we approve your application, your first Social Security disability benefit will be paid for the sixth full month after the date your disability began. For more information about Social Security disability benefits, refer to Disability Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Question: If I get approved, how much will I receive in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?
Answer: The amount of your SSI benefit depends, in part, on the amount of other income you have. For 2014, the basic, maximum federal SSI payment is $710 per month for an individual and $1,082 per month for a couple. However, some states add money to the basic payment. Other monthly income you have would begin to reduce the basic SSI payment. Other things, such as where you live and who you live with, can affect your payment amount. Learn more about SSI by reading SSI publications at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Enter “SSI” in the search box.
Question: I moved in with my parents until I get back on my feet. Why did my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment decrease?
Answer: If you receive SSI, your living arrangements can affect your monthly payment. When you live in another person’s home and do not pay your fair share of the living expenses, that is counted as “in-kind” income and can reduce your SSI payment. You must report any changes in your living arrangement to Social Security within 10 days of the change. When reporting a change in living arrangement, you need to tell us your address, who you live with and what you contribute toward the household bills and expenses. You also need to report if you move into a private or public hospital or nursing home, an institution run by the government, jail, another person’s home or a new place of your own. Report changes in your living arrangement at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Learn more about SSI and the things you need to report when you get it at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi.
Question: I thought there were just two parts to Medicare, but my mom said there are more. How many parts to Medicare are there?
Answer: There are four parts to Medicare:
Part A (hospital insurance) helps pay for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing care, hospice care and other services;
Part B (doctor insurance) helps pay for doctors’ fees, outpatient hospital visits and other medical services and supplies that are not covered by Part A;
Part C (Medicare Advantage) plans, available in some areas, allow you to choose to receive all of your health care services through a provider organization. These plans may help lower your costs of receiving medical services, or you may get extra benefits for an additional monthly fee. You must have Part A and Part B to enroll in Part C; and
Part D (prescription drug coverage) is voluntary and helps cover the costs of prescription medications. Unlike Part B in which you are automatically enrolled and must opt out if you do not want it, with Part D you have to opt in by filling out a form and enrolling in an approved plan.
Learn more about Medicare by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Select the “Medicare” topic.