Social Security: Your questions, our answers | TSLN.com

Social Security: Your questions, our answers

Kathy Petersen

Question: We adopted a baby girl overseas and brought her home with us to the U.S. We need to get a Social Security number for her. What do we do?

Answer: In general, to apply for a Social Security number for your child you must:

• Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5) for your child, which you can find online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov;

• Show us documents proving your child’s:

– U.S. citizenship or immigration status;

– Adoption;

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– Age; and

– Identity.

• Show us a document proving your identity; and

• Show us evidence that establishes your relationship to the child if your name is not listed as the parent on the child’s evidence of age. The adoption decree or the amended U.S. birth certificate will suffice.

You can take your application and original documents to your local Social Security office, or you can mail them to us. All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. If you do not yet have proof of your child’s citizenship, we can assign a number based on documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security upon the child’s arrival in the U.S. When you do receive documentation of your child’s citizenship, you can bring it to us, and we will update your child’s record. We will mail your child’s number and card as soon as we have verified your documents with the issuing offices.

Question: I have children at home and I plan to retire next fall. Will my children be eligible for monthly Social Security payments after I retire?

Answer: A child (biological, legally adopted, or dependent stepchild or grandchild) may potentially be eligible. Monthly Social Security payments may be made to your children if they are:

• Unmarried and under age 18,

• Age 19 if still in high school, or

• Age 18 or over, who became severely disabled before age 22 and continue to be disabled.

For more information, read Benefits For Children at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10085.html.

Question: How much can I earn while receiving Social Security retirement benefits?

Answer: A beneficiary under the full retirement age:

• Can earn $14,640 a year and not lose any benefits in 2012.

• We will deduct $1 in benefits for every $2 earned above $14,640.

A beneficiary reaching full retirement age:

• Can earn $38,880 a year and not lose any benefits in 2012.

• We will deduct $1 for every $3 earned above $38,880.

The same earnings limits apply to a child or spouse who works and receives benefits on your record.

To see how earnings affect your benefits, use the Retirement Earnings Test Calculator at http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/RTeffect.html.

Question: Do I have to pay income taxes on the benefits I receive?

Answer: You will have to pay federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000.

Use the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Notice 703 shown on the back of the Social Security Benefit Statement, SSA Form 1099, to determine if any of your benefits may be taxable. You can ask us to withhold federal taxes from your Social Security when you apply for benefits.

If you are already receiving benefits or if you want to change or stop your withholding, you’ll need a form W-4V from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

You can http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4v.pdf, or call the IRS toll-free number 1-800-829-3676 and ask for Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request. (If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the IRS TTY number, 1-800-829-4059.)

When you complete the form, you will need to select the percentage of your monthly benefit amount you want withheld. You can have 7 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent or 25 percent of your monthly benefit withheld for taxes.

Social Security has no authority to withhold state or local taxes from your benefit. Many states and local authorities do not tax Social Security benefits. However, you should contact your state or local taxing authority for more information.

Question: How do I find the Form 8822, Internal Revenue Services’ change of address form?

Answer: Form 8822, Change of Address, is an IRS form used to change your address with the IRS, not Social Security. You can find the form on the IRS Web site at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8822.pdf.

Social Security does not have a change of address form. To change your address with Social Security:

1. If you receive cash benefits, have applied for benefits, or are entitled to Medicare:

– Change your address or phone number online at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/ICOA/coa001.jsp.

– Call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. Our representatives will be glad to take the information and make any necessary changes in our records.

– Notify your local field office. You can get addresses and directions to our field offices from the Social Security Office Locator, which is available on the Internet at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/locator/.

2. If you are not currently entitled to Social Security or Medicare benefits, and do not have an application pending – take no action. Social Security only maintains address information on current beneficiaries and people who have applications for benefits pending.

Kathy Petersen is a public affairs specialist for Social Security, Denver Region. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 605 Main, Suite 201, Rapid City, SD, 57701 or via e-mail at kathy.petersen@ssa.gov. Next week Kathy discusses weather-related Social Security office closings.

Kathy Petersen is a public affairs specialist for Social Security, Denver Region. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 605 Main, Suite 201, Rapid City, SD, 57701 or via e-mail at kathy.petersen@ssa.gov. Next week Kathy discusses weather-related Social Security office closings.

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