Question: I'm about to retire and I get rental income from a property I own. Does investment income count as earnings and affect my ability to collect Social Security benefits?
Answer: 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.
Question: How do I know that I'm ready for the transition to digital television?
Answer: Currently, many over-the-air stations are broadcasting in both analog and digital TV formats. By June 12, all fullpower TV stations will broadcast only in digital. The DTV transition will affect those who watch free, over-the-air television through a rooftop antenna or "rabbit ears." If you watch over-the-air programs on an analog TV, you must take action now.
There are three ways to get ready:
Question: I just got back from a military deployment and I want to plan ahead. How will my military retirement affect my Social Security benefits?
Answer: Your military retirement won't affect your Social Security benefits. You can get both. Generally, there is no offset of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement. You will get full benefits based on your earnings. You can find more information in the publication Military Service and Social Security at www.socialsecurity. gov/pubs/10017.html.
Question: I was turned down for disability. Do I need a lawyer to appeal?
Answer: Whether or not to have a representative is up to you. In fact, you can file a Social Security appeal online, with or without a lawyer. Our online appeal process is convenient and secure. Just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/ disability/appeal. If you prefer, call us to schedule an appointment to visit your local Social Security office to appeal.
Question: 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?
Answer: In most cases no - you can apply online from the convenience of your home. Our online disability application is convenient and secure. You can apply for benefits over the Internet at 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 or calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to request a copy. It will help you prepare for your application.
Question: My sister has been completely disabled since birth. She gets Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Our grandfather died recently and left her a little money. Will this extra money stop her SSI benefits?
Answer: It depends on the amount of the inheritance. The inheritance money is considered income for the month she received it. She will need to report the income and we will adjust her benefit for the month if we need to. If she keeps the money into the next month, it then becomes a part of her resources. To get SSI benefits, a person is limited to $2,000 in total resources, although there are exceptions. Have your sister call Social Security to report the inheritance. We will tell your sister how her eligibility could be affected.
Question: My mom receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. She soon will be going to live with my brother. Does she have to report the move to Social Security?
Answer: Yes. She should report to us within 10 days any change in living arrangements. The change could affect her benefit. Failure to report the change could result in a penalty being deducted from her SSI benefits. Also, we need her correct address so we can send correspondence. Please have her call Social Security, or she can report the change by mail or in person at a Social Security office.
Question: How do I know if I am eligible for the $3,900 in savings with the Medicare prescription drug program?
Answer: There are annual income and resource limits. For example, if your annual income is below $16,245 (or $21,855 if you are married and living with your spouse), you may qualify for the extra help. Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help if you meet certain conditions.
Further, to get the extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs, your total resources generally must be limited to $12,510 (or $25,010 if you are married and living with your spouse). Resources include the value of some things you own, though not the house you live in. For more information see our publication, Medicare, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043. html, or call us.
Rebecca Miller is the manager of the Social Security Administration office in Wheeling.