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

Social Security: Your questions, our answers

For the January 22, 2011 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

Question: Is it illegal to laminate your Social Security card?

Answer: No, it is not illegal, but we discourage it. It’s best not to laminate your card. Laminated cards make it difficult, sometimes even impossible, to detect important security features and an employer may refuse to accept them. The Social Security Act requires the Commissioner of Social Security to issue cards that cannot be counterfeited. We incorporate many features that protect the card’s integrity. They include highly specialized paper and printing techniques – some visible to the naked eye and some not. Keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers. Do not carry it with you. Learn more at http://www.socialsecurity.gov

Question: Can I delay my retirement benefits and receive benefits as a spouse only? How does that affect me?

Answer: It depends on your age. If you are full retirement age and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you can choose to file and receive benefits on just your spouse’s Social Security record and delay filing for benefits on your own record up until age 70. By filing for just benefits as a spouse, you may receive a higher retirement benefit on your own record later based on the effect of delayed retirement credits. You can earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70 as long as you do not collect your own benefits – and those credits can increase your benefit by as much as 8 percent for each year you delay. You can use our online Retirement Estimator to test out different scenarios. Go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

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

Answer: Monthly Social Security payments may be made to your children if:

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• They are unmarried and under age 18;

• Age 18 or 19 and still in high school; or

• Age 18 or older, became disabled before age 22, and continue to be disabled.

Children who may qualify include a biological child, adopted child, or dependent stepchild. (In some cases, your grandchild also could be eligible for benefits on your record if you are supporting them.). For more information, see our online publication, Benefits For Children, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10085.html.

Question: I’ve been turned down for disability benefits. How do I appeal?

Answer: It’s easy to appeal the decision online. Go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov and select “Appeal a disability decision” in the “Top Services” section on the left side of the page. This is the starting point to request a review of our medical decision about your eligibility for disability benefits. There are two parts to this Internet appeal process:

1. An Appeal Request Internet form; and

2. An Appeal Disability Report that gives us more information about your condition.

You can complete both forms online.

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. next week kathy explains how to obtain a written verification of your social security benefit amount.

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