Q: My neighbor said my kids, 8 and 15, might be eligible for survivors’ benefits since their mother died. Are they?
A: Maybe. Their mother must have worked and earned the required number of Social Security credits. If she did, both you and your children may be eligible for benefits. Apply promptly for survivors benefits because benefits are generally retroactive only up to six months. You can apply by calling Social Security’s toll-free number, 800-772-1213, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778. For more information, read our publication Survivors Benefits available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Q: I’m expecting a baby this June. What do I need to do to get a Social Security number for my baby?
A: Apply for a number at the hospital when you apply for your baby’s birth certificate. The state agency that issues birth certificates will share your child’s information with us, and we will mail the Social Security card to you. You can learn more about the Social Security number and card by reading our online publication on the subject, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Q: How long does it take to complete the online application for retirement benefits?
A:It can take as little as 15 minutes to complete the online application. 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 any further information is needed. There’s no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. To retire online, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/retireonline.
Q: My husband doesn’t have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. Can he qualify on my record?
A: A spouse receives one-half of the retired worker’s full benefit unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, the amount of the spouse’s benefit is reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before he or she reaches full retirement age. You can learn more by reading our online publication, Retirement Benefits, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Q: I currently receive Social Security disability benefits.
I now have a second serious disability. Can my monthly benefit amount be increased?
A: No. Your Social Security disability benefit amount is based on the amount of your lifetime earnings before your disability began and not the number of disabling conditions or illnesses you may have. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.
Q: Is there a time limit on how long I can collect Social Security disability benefits?
A: No. Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you remain unable to work. Your case will be reviewed at regular intervals to determine whether you still are disabled. If you are receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, we will automatically convert them to retirement benefits, without a change in your payment amount. For all your disability questions, read our publication Disability Benefits, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Q: My mother receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. She may have to enter a nursing home later this year. How does this affect her SSI benefits?
A: Moving to a nursing home can affect your mother’s SSI benefits but it depends on the type of facility. In some cases, the SSI payment may be reduced or stopped. Whenever your mother enters or leaves a nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital, skilled nursing facility, or any other kind of institution, you must tell Social Security. Call Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). We can answer specific questions and provide free interpreter services from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. We also provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day.
Q: I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. How do I notify Social Security that I have changed my address?
A: If you receive SSI payments, Social Security needs your correct mailing address to send you notices and other correspondence about your benefits even if you receive your benefits by direct deposit. As an SSI recipient, you must report any change in living arrangements or address by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting a local office. If you do not notify us in a timely manner, you could end up receiving an incorrect payment. It’s important that you report changes timely since some changes can affect your benefit amount.
Q: My uncle is interested in the Medicare Part D prescription help, but he has about $10,000 in the bank. Would he still be eligible?
A :Based on his resources, yes. However, there are other factors to consider. This year a person’s total resources are, in most cases, limited to $13,440 (or $26,860 if married and living with spouse) to qualify for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. Resources include the value of the things he owns, such as real estate (other than the place you live), cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts like IRAs or 401(k)s. There are exceptions. To learn more, go to www.socialsecurity.gov.
HELPING AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES
The World Health Organization held the first World Health Assembly in 1948, and, beginning in 1950, every year on April 7 the world comes together to observe World Health Day. Each year, World Health Day focuses on a particular subject of interest to global health.
At Social Security, we focus on people’s health every day. Specifically, we provide benefits for people with disabilities. To help expedite the disability process, we recently announced the addition of 25 new Compassionate Allowances conditions. These new conditions include twelve cancers, such as prostate cancer, as well as disorders that affect the digestive, neurological, immune, and multiple body systems.
The Compassionate Allowances program expedites disability decisions for Americans with the most serious disabilities to ensure that they receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months. By incorporating cutting-edge technology, the agency can identify potential Compassionate Allowances and quickly make decisions. To date, we have approved almost 200,000 people with severe disabilities through this fast-track disability process.
“We are dedicated to providing vulnerable Americans with faster access to disability benefits through our Compassionate Allowances program,” Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said recently. “Social Security disability benefits are a vital lifeline for individuals who are facing severe diseases and we must ensure that they receive the benefits they rightly deserve.”
While Social Security joins individuals, groups and organizations around the globe to observe World Health Day on April 7, we work all year round to help Americans with health issues live a healthier life. In addition to cash benefits, beneficiaries obtain Medicare coverage after 24 months, a vital element in preserving an individual’s health and, in the long run, world health.
Learn more about disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability
For more information on the Compassionate Allowances program, including a list of all qualifying conditions, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances