Social Security column/Karyl Richson
FAST MEDICARE COVERAGE EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT RETIRED
You’ve made your decision: although you’re eligible to collect Social Security payments, you’re going to keep working and delay
receiving your retirement benefits.
But don’t forget about Medicare. Even if you decide to wait until after you are age 65 to apply for retirement benefits, most people
should apply for Medicare coverage at age 65. If you’d like to begin your Medicare coverage, you should apply within four months
of reaching age 65.
There’s a fast, convenient, and simple way to apply online for Medicare in as little as 10 minutes — even if you’re not ready to
receive retirement benefits. Just visit www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly.
At the website, you’ll find more than just the online Medicare application. You’ll also find information about Medicare, and have
the opportunity to watch a short, fun video reuniting the cast of The Patty Duke Show to tell you about the ease and convenience
of filing for Medicare online.
It’s important to note that people who already receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits do not need to apply for
Medicare; they will be automatically enrolled.
There is no additional charge for Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) since you already paid for it by working and paying
Medicare tax. But there is a monthly premium for medical insurance (Part B). If you already have other health insurance when
you become eligible for Medicare, you should consider whether you want to apply for the medical insurance. You may want to
consult with an insurance specialist. To learn more about this and other Medicare considerations, read our online publication,
Medicare, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043.html.
CLASS IS IN SESSION WITH SOCIAL SECURITY WEBINARS
You’ve probably been on the web, and it’s likely that you’ve attended a seminar. But have you ever attended a “webinar?” We
recommend that you do.
Social Security offers a selection of webinars at www.socialsecurity.gov/webinars. You’re invited to attend any of them, anytime.
Class is always in session — past webinars are available for you to view at any time. The information can be valuable, but the
cost is free.
There are webinars on benefits for wounded warriors, applying for retirement online, extra help with Medicare prescription drug
costs, and more.
The two recent webinars on the page are on timely topics.
• How Some Public Employee or Teacher Pensions May Affect Social Security Benefits. In this webinar, we walk you through
how the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) may affect Social Security benefits of
workers whose employers do not withhold Social Security taxes from their salary, such as some school systems and some
local, State and Federal government agencies.
• Ticket to Work. Do you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?
Thousands of SSI and SSDI beneficiaries have learned how to stay in control of their benefits while enriching their lives through
employment. You can join them by participating in a 90-minute Work Incentive Seminar Event (WISE) Webinar to learn about
available incentives, including those offered through the Ticket to Work program.
If you visit www.socialsecurity.gov/webinars, you’ll find all of the webinars instantly accessible. Any upcoming webinars will be at
the top of the page with information on the date, time, and how to register to participate in the webinar live. Once the webinar has
taken place, it will be available for anyone to revisit as a resource.
Hit the virtual classroom with a Social Security webinar. Classes begin at www.socialsecurity.gov/webinars.
SCAMS ARE NO JOKING MATTER; DON’T BECOME AN APRIL FOOL
Being the butt of an April fool’s joke is fine when it’s good-natured fun. But no one wants to fall victim to a scam artist or identity
You may think you’re safe simply by not carrying your Social Security card with you and not providing your personal information
over the Internet or by email. But scam artists have become shrewd. Never reply to an email claiming to be from Social Security
and asking for your Social Security number or personal information.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America. If you think you’ve been the victim of an identity thief, you should
contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft. Or, you can call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-
438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261.
Some people who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are often victimized by misleading
advertisers. Often, these companies offer Social Security services for a fee, even though the same services are available
directly from Social Security free of charge. These services include getting a:
• corrected Social Security card showing a bride's married name;
• Social Security card to replace a lost card;
• Social Security Statement; and
• Social Security number for a child.
Some direct scammers suggest that Social Security is in dire financial shape and that people risk losing their Social Security or
Medicare benefits unless they send a contribution or membership fee to the advertiser.
If you receive or see what you believe is misleading advertising for Social Security services, send the complete mailing,
including the envelope, to: Office of the Inspector General, Fraud Hotline, Social Security Administration, P.O. Box 17768,
Baltimore, MD 21235. Also, advise your State's attorney general or consumer affairs office and the Better Business Bureau.
Learn more about identity theft at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10064.html. Read about misleading advertising at www.
Please don’t let a scam artist or identity thief make an April fool out of you.
SURVIVORS BENEFITS EXPLAINED
The loss of a loved one can be painful. The death of a wage-earner upon whom a family depends also can be financially
If you’re like most young or middle-aged workers, you probably think of Social Security only as a retirement program. But some
of the Social Security taxes you pay go toward providing survivors insurance for workers and their families. Think of it as a life
insurance policy you never knew you had — paid for by the same taxes that cover you for retirement or disability.
When you die, certain members of your family may be eligible for survivors benefits. These include widows, widowers (and
divorced widows and widowers), children, and even dependent parents. In many cases, there also is a one-time lump-sum
payment of $255 that can be made to a surviving spouse or minor children who meet certain requirements.
You may not think it will happen to you, but the stunning truth is that one in eight of today’s 20-year-olds will die before reaching
their full retirement age of 67. In fact, 98 of every 100 children could get benefits if a working parent dies. More than 6.4 million
survivors receive benefits. The average Survivors benefit is $1,129 a month.
If you are a survivor, you should apply for survivors benefit right away. You can apply by telephone or at any Social Security office.
Call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778). To help prepare you, here is the information we will need:
• Proof of death — either from a funeral home or a death certificate;
• Your Social Security number, as well as the deceased worker’s;
• Your birth certificate;
• Your marriage certificate, if you are a widow or widower;
• Your divorce papers, if you are applying as a divorced widow or widower;
• Dependent children’s Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates;
• Deceased worker’s W-2 forms or Federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year; and
• The name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be deposited directly into your account.
To learn more about survivors benefits, please read the online publication at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10084.html.
Visit the Survivors page at www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/survivors.htm.
SOCIAL SECURITY CELEBRATES EARTH DAY EVERY DAY
This Earth Day (April 22) and every day, Social Security is committed to conserving energy and reducing waste. Social Security
has buildings across the nation that boast high-efficiency lighting, solar hot water heating systems, high-performance windows,
solar lighting in parking lots, improved HVAC systems, chilled water system improvements, and much more.
What’s more, Social Security offers many of our popular services online. These services are more than just convenient and
easy-to-use. They’re also great for the environment!
You can do most Social Security business from the convenience of your home or on any computer. There’s no paper, printing,
postage, or travel needed. Here are a few of our most popular online services:
• Use our Retirement Estimator to get a quick and accurate estimate of your future Social Security retirement benefits. www.
• Prepare for your retirement by visiting our Benefits Planner page. You also can go here to use the disability and survivors
planners to find out how much you or your family might qualify for if the need arises. www.socialsecurity.gov/planners
• Retire online! You can complete and submit your retirement application in as little as 15 minutes. www.socialsecurity.
• Apply for disability benefits. www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability
• Apply for Medicare benefits. www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly
So, whether you’re interested in planning your retirement or applying for disability, our online office is the most convenient and
“green” one to visit. Social Security’s online services also top customer satisfaction lists. For a complete list of our online
services, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Do I need a Social Security card? I want to get a summer job and my dad can’t find my card.
If you know your number, you probably don’t need to get a card. If you find out that you do need a replacement card, you can
download and complete the application for a replacement at our website. Then, take or mail the application to your local Social
Security office with the required documentation. The web address is www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. If you do get a
replacement card or find the original, you shouldn’t carry it with you. Keep it in a safe place with your other important papers.
Can I get a new Social Security number if someone has stolen my identity?
We do not routinely assign a new number to someone whose identity has been stolen. Only as a last resort should you
consider requesting a new Social Security number. Changing your number may adversely affect your ability to interact with
Federal and State agencies, employers, and others. This is because your financial, medical, employment and other records will
be under your former Social Security number. We cannot guarantee that a new number will solve your problem. To learn more
about your Social Security card and number, read our online publication on the subject at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10002.
I just got back from an overseas military deployment and I want to plan ahead. How will my military retirement affect my Social
Your military retirement won’t affect your Social Security benefits at all. You can get both. Generally, there is no offset of Social
Security benefits because of your military retirement. You will get full Social Security benefits based on your earnings. The only
way your Social Security benefit might be reduced is if you also receive a government pension based on a job in which you did
not pay Social Security taxes. You can find more information in the publication Military Service and Social Security at www.
socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10017.html. Or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
I'm retiring early, at age 62, and I receive investment income from a rental property I own. Does investment income count as
No. We count only the wages you earn from a job or your net profit if you're self-employed. Non-work income such as annuities,
investment income, interest, capital gains, and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security
benefits. Most pensions will not affect your benefits. However, your benefit may be affected by government pensions earned
through work on which you did not pay Social Security tax. You can retire online at www.socialsecurity.gov. For more information,
call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
I was turned down for disability. Do I need a lawyer to appeal?
You are fully entitled to hire an attorney if you wish to, but it is not necessary. In fact, you can file a Social Security appeal online
without a lawyer. Our online appeal process is convenient and secure. Just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeal. If you
prefer, call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment to visit your local Social Security office to
It’s hard for me to get around because of my disability. Do I have to go to a Social Security office to apply for benefits?
Not anymore. You can prepare and submit your Social Security disability application and all the needed forms right over the
Internet. Our online disability application is convenient and secure. Get started by visiting www.socialsecurity.
gov/applyfordisability. When you decide to apply, begin by taking a look at our Disability Starter Kit at www.socialsecurity.
gov/disability/disability_starter_kits.htm. It will help you prepare for your application.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME
My brother has been completely disabled from birth. He gets Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Our grandfather died recently
and left him a little money. Will this extra money stop his SSI benefits?
It all depends on the amount of the inheritance. Inheritance money is considered income for the month he received it. You will
have to report the income and we will adjust his benefit for the month accordingly. If he keeps the money into the next month, it
then becomes a part of his resources. To get SSI benefits, he is limited to $2,000 in total resources although there are
exceptions. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and report the inheritance. We will tell you how your
brother’s eligibility will be affected. For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
My dad receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. He soon will be coming to live with my brother. Does he have to
report the move to Social Security?
Yes. He should report to us within 10 days any change in living arrangements. The change could affect his benefit. Failure to
report the change could result in a penalty being deducted from his SSI benefits. Also, we need his correct address so we can
send correspondence. Please have him call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Or, he can report the
change by mail or in person at a Social Security office. Visit our website for more information at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Is it true I can save about $4,000 per year if I qualify for Social Security’s Extra Help with the Medicare prescription drug program?
Yes if your income and resources meet the requirements, you can save nearly $4,000 in prescription costs each year. Income
limits for 2011 are $12,640 (or $25,260 if you are married and living with your spouse), Resource limits are limited to $16,335
(or $22,065 if you are married and living with your spouse). If your income and/or resources are just a bit higher, you might be
eligible for some help with prescription drug costs. To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.