Your questions, our answers | TSLN.com

Your questions, our answers

Kathy Petersen

Question: When will I get my automatic Social Security Statement?

Answer: If you are at least 25 years old and not yet receiving benefits, you should receive your annual Social Security Statement about three months before your birthday. If your automatic Statement has not arrived and you are within one month before the month of your birth or if you need a Statement sooner, you can request one at any time by going to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/statement. You can learn more about the Social Security Statement and how to use it at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement.

Question: My neighbor, who is retired, told me that the income he receives from his part-time job at the local nursery gives him an increase in his Social Security benefits. If I go back to work will my benefits increase?

Answer: If you return to work after you start receiving benefits, you may be able to receive a higher benefit based on those earnings. This is because Social Security automatically re-computes the benefit after crediting the additional earnings to the individual’s earnings record. If those earnings are higher than one of the years of earnings we used to compute your current benefit, your benefit may be increased. Learn more about how we figure your retirement benefit by reading the publication Your Retirement Benefit: How It Is Figured, available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10070.html. If you are not already receiving benefits, you also may want to test out how changes in wages and retirement ages will affect your future benefit by using the Retirement Estimator at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Question: What is the difference between Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability?

Answer: The Social Security Administration runs two major programs that provide benefits based on disability: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and SSI. SSDI is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers and self-employed persons. To be eligible for a Social Security benefit, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be “insured” for Social Security purposes. Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers, survivors, or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible. The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker.

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SSI is a needs-based program financed through general revenues. SSI disability benefits are payable to adults or children who are disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements and are otherwise eligible. The monthly payment varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate, which may be supplemented by the State or decreased by countable income and resources.

To learn more about SSDI and SSI disability benefits, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov and visit the links along the top of the page for Disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Question: Can I get both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and Social Security benefits at the same time?

Answer: Many people eligible for SSI may also be entitled to Social Security benefits. In fact, the application for SSI also is an application for Social Security benefits. Eligibility for SSI depends on your income and resources, so if you receive a large Social Security check, you won’t be eligible for SSI. However, if your Social Security payment is low and your overall income and resources are low, you might be eligible to receive an SSI payment to supplement your Social Security benefits. To learn more about SSI, read the publication You May Be Able To Receive SSI at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11069.html

Question: Is there a time limit on how long you can receive Social Security disability benefits?

Answer: Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition does not improve and you remain unable to work. We will review your case at regular intervals to make sure you are still disabled. If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, we will automatically convert them to retirement benefits. Learn more about disability benefits by visiting http://www.socialsecurity.gov and selecting the Disability tab along the top of the page.

Question: How often will my case be reviewed to determine whether I’m still disabled for Social Security purposes?

Answer: How often we review your medical condition depends on how severe it is and what the likelihood is that it will improve. Your award notice tells you when you can expect your first review. It will either say “Medical improvement expected” (first review in six to 18 months); “Improvement possible” (first review in about three years); or “Improvement not expected” (first review in five to seven years). For more information, read the publication What You Need To Know: Reviewing Your Disability, available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10068.html.

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 review will determine whether you remain eligible for Extra Help and whether you are receiving all the benefits you deserve. We do reviews annually, usually at the end of August. We will 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. For example, if we send you a review form in August 2010 and you return the review form within 30 days, any necessary adjustment to your Extra Help will be effective in January 2011. To learn more about Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug plan costs, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

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 to learn how you can request a social security speaker for your event.

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