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Social Security Answers for July

Question:

I thought I saw Patty Duke with George Takei in a new video for Social Security. Was that really them?

 

Answer:

Yes. Patty Duke joined George Takei to tell Americans to Boldly Go towww.socialsecurity.gov to apply for retirement, disability, Medicare, and so much more. The two celebrities have donated their time for a new campaign promoting Social Security’s online services as an easy and secure way for people to do business with the agency. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov where you also can watch the videos online.

Question:

When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, who is eligible for survivors benefits?

Answer:

Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:

  • Widows or widowers — full benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60;
  • Disabled widows or widowers — as early as age 50;
  • Widows or widowers at any age if they take 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 based on the earnings record of a former spouse. For more information, go towww.socialsecurity.gov.

 

RETIREMENT

Question:

What is the benefit amount a spouse may be entitled to receive?

 

Answer:

If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first.  If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse’s benefits.  A spouse generally 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.  For example, based on the full retirement age of 66, if a spouse begins collecting benefits:

  • At age 65, the benefit amount would be about 46 percent of the retired worker’s full benefit;
  • At age 64, it would be about 42 percent;
  • At age 63, 37.5 percent; and
  • At age 62, 35 percent.

However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receives Social Security benefits on the same record, a spouse will get full benefits, regardless of age.  Learn more by reading our Retirement publication atwww.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10035.html.

Question:

What’s so easy about applying online for benefits?

Answer:

There’s no need to go to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. You can apply in less than 15 minutes. Just visitwww.socialsecurity.gov. Once you submit your electronic application, you’re done. In most cases, there are no forms to sign or documents to mail. Try it atwww.socialsecurity.gov.

Question:

What is the earliest age that I can begin receiving retirement benefits?

 

Answer:

You can get a reduced benefit as early as age 62.  Keep in mind that your monthly benefit amount would be about 33 percent higher if you wait until age 66 and nearly 80 percent higher if you defer payments until age 70. Visit our Retirement Estimator to find out how much you can expect to receive. You can find it atwww.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

 

DISABILITY

Question:

How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?

 

Answer:

For an adult to be considered disabled, Social Security must determine that you are unable to do the work you did before and, based on your age, education, and work experience, you are unable to adjust to any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. Also, your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability (less than a year). For more information, we recommend you read Disability Benefits (SSA Publication No. 05-10029), available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html.

 

 

Question:

I’m thinking about getting disability insurance from a private company. If I become disabled and have a private policy, would it reduce my Social Security disability benefit?

 

Answer:

No. Your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits is not affected by any private insurance you may have. But workers’ compensation and certain other public disability payments may affect your Social Security benefit. You also should ask the company providing your disability protection what effect Social Security will have on the benefits they provide.

For more information about Social Security disability benefits, read our publication atwww.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html.

 

 

 

MEDICARE

 

 

Question:

Who is eligible for extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs?

Answer:

Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources may qualify for extra help. The extra help can save them money. It pays part of the monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments under the new Medicare prescription drug program. The extra help is estimated to be worth an average of $4,000 per year. Help someone qualify and apply at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

Question:

If I have a question about my Medicare bill, who should I contact first?

 

Answer:

First, contact your provider. If you are unable to get your question answered or problem resolved, then contact 1-800 MEDICARE. For more

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