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

Social Security: Your questions, our answers

Kathy Petersen

Question: How do you replace a damaged Social Security card?

Answer: While you can replace your Social Security card for free if it is lost or stolen, you may not have to do so. Knowing your Social Security number is what is most important. You may need a new card if you are starting a new job and your employer asks to see the card. For more information about getting a replacement card, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber

Question: How much of a difference will it make if I defer retirement benefits until age 70?

Answer: It can be significant. Let’s say your full retirement age is 66 and your monthly benefit starting at that age is $1,000. If you choose to defer receiving benefits until age 70, you would increase your monthly benefit amount to $1,320. That’s almost an extra $4,000 each year for the rest of your life. This increase is from delayed retirement credits you get for your decision to postpone receiving benefits past your full retirement age. The benefit amount at age 70, in this example is 32 percent more than you would receive per month if you chose to start getting benefits at full retirement age. And, this higher benefit would continue for as long as you live. You can estimate your future benefits at different ages using our Retirement Estimator at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Question: I was told Social Security will pay Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to children who were born prematurely. Is this true?

Answer: SSI is for people with low income and resources and in most cases the income and resources of the parent(s) would be considered for a child. For children who meet the income and resource requirements, Social Security does provide SSI disability benefits to certain low birth weight infants, whether or not they are premature. Children who weigh less than 1,200 grams (about 2 pounds, 10 ounces) at birth can qualify for SSI on the basis of low birth weight. Children who weigh between 1,200 and 2,000 grams at birth (about 4 pounds 6 ounces) and who are considered small for their gestational age also may qualify.

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Even if children who were born prematurely do not fall into one of the low birth weight categories, they still may qualify for SSI if the evidence in their record shows that they meet the definition of disability for children for another reason. Go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/child.htm for more information.

Question: Why is there a five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?

Answer: The law provides for a five-month waiting period to ensure that during the early months of disability, we only pay benefits to persons who have long-term disabilities. Social Security disability benefits can be paid only after you have been disabled continuously throughout a period of five full calendar months. Therefore, Social Security disability benefits will be paid beginning with the sixth full month after the date your disability began. You are not entitled to benefits for any month in the waiting period. Learn more by reading our online publication, Disability Benefits, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html

Question: When is open season for enrolling in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan?

Answer: The Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program Open Season this year runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage. Some people with limited resources and income are eligible for Extra Help to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. To learn more about the Medicare prescription drug plan, visit http://www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048). To apply for Extra Help, complete the Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.

kathy petersen is the public affairs specialist for south dakota and eastern wyoming. 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. check back next week as kathy explains how to wrap up your retirement application.

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