Questions and Answers About Social Security
Question: Will my son be eligible to receive benefits on his retired father’s record while going to college?
Answer: No. At one time, Social Security did pay benefits to eligible college students. But the law changed in 1981. We now pay benefits only to students taking courses at grade 12 or below. Normally, benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled. However, if children are still full-time students at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, benefits generally can continue until they graduate or until two months after they reach age 19, whichever is first. If your child is still going to be in school at age 19, you’ll want to visit www.socialsecurity.gov/schools.
Question: When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, are benefits payable on that person’s record?
Answer: Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:
A widow or widower — unreduced benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60;
A disabled widow or widower — as early as age 50;
A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits;
Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren or adopted children;
Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled; and
Dependent parents age 62 or older.
Even if you are divorced, you still may qualify for survivors benefits. For more information, go to socialsecurity.gov.
Question: I want to make sure I have enough credits to receive Social Security retirement benefits when I need them. How can I get a record of my Social Security earnings?
Answer: The best way for you to check whether you have earned enough credits (40 total, equaling 10 years of work) is to open a free my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to review your Social Security Statement.
Once you create an account, you can:
Keep track of your earnings to make sure your benefit is calculated correctly. The amount of your payment is based on your lifetime earnings;
Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working;
Get a replacement 1099 or 1042S.
Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them; and
Manage your benefits:
Change your address; and
Start or change your direct deposit.
Accessing my Social Security is quick, convenient, and secure, and you can do it from the comfort of your home.
In some states, you can even request a replacement Social Security card online using my Social Security. Currently available in some areas in the United States, it’s an easy, convenient, and secure way to request a replacement card online. To find out where we offer this service, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
Question: Although I stopped working a few years ago, I had additional seasonal earnings after my retirement. Will my monthly Social Security retirement benefit increase?
Answer: Possibly. And, you can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase their monthly benefit amounts. If an increase is due, we calculate a new benefit amount and pay the increase retroactive to January following the year of earnings. You can learn more about how work affects your benefits by reading our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits, at socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Question: My aunt is disabled as a result of a car accident. Does Social Security have a special program for people who are obviously physically or mentally disabled?
Answer: Social Security is committed to expediting the application process for people with severe disabilities. Through our Compassionate Allowances program, we can quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that qualify, based on minimal objective medical information, and that allows us to make payments much sooner than the usual review process allows. Compassionate Allowances is not a separate program from the Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs. People who don’t meet the Compassionate Allowances criteria will still have their medical conditions reviewed by Social Security.
Learn more about our Compassionate Allowances at socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances
Question: How do I apply for disability benefits? And, how long does it take to get a decision after I apply for disability benefits?
Answer: You can apply for disability benefits online at ssa.gov/disabilityssi/apply.html. Getting a decision on your disability application usually takes three to five months. The time frame can vary depending on:
The nature of your disability;
How quickly we can get your medical evidence from your doctor or other medical source;
Whether it’s necessary to send you for a medical examination; and
Whether we review your application for quality purposes.
Question: I’m going to visit relatives outside the country for two weeks. Can I still get Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) payments while I’m there?
Answer: Your SSI usually will stop if you leave the United States for 30 consecutive days or more. Since you are going to be away for only two weeks, your SSI should not be affected. However, it’s important that you tell Social Security the date you plan to leave and the date you plan to come back, no matter how long you expect your travel to last. Then we can let you know whether your SSI will be affected. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Question: Are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments paid only to disabled or blind people?
Answer: No. In addition to people with disabilities or blindness, SSI payments can be made to people who are age 65 or older and have limited income and financial resources. For more information, read our publication, Supplemental Security Income, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11000.html.
Question: Where can I go to find general information about Medicare benefits?
Answer: Social Security determines whether people are entitled to Medicare benefits, but the program is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). You can visit CMS’ Medicare website at www.medicare.gov, or call them at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Online or by phone, you can find answers to all your Medicare questions at CMS.
Question: Will my eligibility for the Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs be reviewed and, if so, how often?
Answer: If you get the Extra Help, Social Security may contact you to review your status. This reassessment will ensure you remain eligible for Extra Help and you are receiving all the benefits you deserve. Annually, usually at the end of August, we may send you a form to complete: Social Security Administration Review of Your Eligibility for Extra Help. You will have 30 days to complete and return this form. Any necessary adjustments to the Extra Help will be effective in January of the following year. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp for more information.