Question: My husband and I are both entitled to our own Social Security benefits. Will our combined benefits be reduced because we are married?
Answer: No. When each member of a married couple works in employment covered under Social Security and both meet all other eligibility requirements to receive retirement benefits, lifetime earnings are calculated independently to determine the benefit amounts. Therefore, each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. If one member of the couple earned low wages or did not earn enough Social Security credits (40) to be insured for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse.
Question: How do I change my citizenship status on Social Security's records?
Answer: To change your citizenship status shown in Social Security records:
- new or revised citizenship status (Only certain documents can be accepted as proof of citizenship. These include your U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization, or a Certificate of Citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen, Social Security will ask to see your current immigration documents);
- age; and
Then, take (or mail) your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office or card center.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency.
Question: I just got back from an overseas military deployment and I want to plan ahead for my retirement. How will my military retirement affect my Social Security benefits?
Answer: 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. However 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.
Question: Who can get Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug coverage?
Answer: Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and you pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage. People with higher incomes might pay a higher premium.
If you have limited income and resources, you may be eligible for Extra Help to pay for the costs - monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments - related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. To qualify for Extra Help, you must reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Your resources must be limited to $13,070 for an individual or $26,120 for a married couple living together. (Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds. We do not count your house and car as resources.) Your annual income must be limited to $16,755 for an individual or $22,695 for a married couple living together.
Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/ prescriptionhelp.
Question: Can I receive Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits at the same time?
Answer: You may be able to receive SSI in addition to monthly Social Security benefits if your Social Security benefit is low enough for you to qualify for SSI. Whether you can get SSI depends on your income and resources (the things you own). If you have low income and few resources, you may be able to supplement your Social Security benefit with an SSI payment.
Question: What are the limits on what I can own to be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Can I have money in the bank, a car, and a furnished house?
Answer: We count real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds toward the resource limits on what you can own. You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth no more than $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI if they have resources worth no more than $3,000. Keep in mind that we usually don't count the house you live in, personal items such as furniture and clothing, or the car you drive towards that resource amount.
Question: How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?
Answer: There are two ways that you can apply for disability benefits. You can:
1. Apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov; or
2. Call our toll-free number, 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) to make an appointment to file a disability claim at your local Social Security office or to set up an appointment for someone to take your claim over the telephone.
Question: My doctor said he thinks I'm disabled. Who decides if I meet the requirements for Social Security disability benefits?
Answer: We first will review your application to make sure you meet some basic requirements for Social Security disability benefits, such as whether you worked enough years to qualify. Then we will send your application to the disability determination services office in your state, often called the "DDS" or "state agency" to determine whether you meet the legal definition of disabled. Your state agency completes the disability decision for us. Doctors and disability specialists in the state agency ask your doctors for information about your condition. They consider all the facts in your case. They use the medical evidence from your doctors and hospitals, clinics, or institutions where you have been treated and all other information.
The state agency staff may need more medical information before they can decide if you are disabled. If more information is not available from your current medical sources, the state agency may ask you to go for a special examination. The preference is to ask your own doctor, but sometimes the exam may have to be done by someone else. Social Security will pay for the exam and for some of the related travel costs.
Rebecca Miller is the manager of the Social Security Administration office in Wheeling.