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Social Security: Your questions, our answers

Kathy Petersen
For the August 20, 2011 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

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Question: What should I do if an employee gives me a Social Security number but cannot produce the card?

Answer: Seeing the card is not as important as putting the correct information on the worker’s Form W-2. You can verify employee Social Security numbers by using the Social Security Number Verification Service. Just go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/bso. This online service allows registered employers to verify employee Social Security numbers against Social Security records for wage reporting purposes. If the employee recently applied for a Social Security number but does not yet have a card when you must file the paper Form W-2, enter the words “Applied for” on the Form W-2. If you are filing electronically, enter all zeros (e.g., 000-00-0000) in the Social Security number field. When the employee receives the card, file Copy A of Form W-2C, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement with Social Security to show the employee’s number.

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

Answer: Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you still cannot work. We will review your case at regular intervals to make sure you are still disabled. If you are still disabled when you reach your full retirement age, we will convert your disability benefit to a retirement benefit at the same amount. You can learn more about Social Security disability benefits at our Web site: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

Question: If both my spouse and I are entitled to Social Security benefits, is there any reduction in our payments because we are married?

Answer: No. We calculate lifetime earnings independently to determine each spouse’s Social Security benefit amount. When each member of a married couple meets all other eligibility requirements to receive Social Security retirement benefits, each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. Couples are not penalized because they are married. If one member of the couple earned low wages or failed to earn enough Social Security credits (40) to be insured for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse based on the spouse’s work record. Learn more about spouse benefits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/yourspouse.htm

Question: I am receiving Social Security disability benefits. Will my benefits be affected if I work and earn money?

Answer: It depends. We have special rules called “work incentives” that help you keep your monthly payments and Medicare coverage while you test your ability to work. For example, you can receive full benefits regardless of how much you earn, as long as you report your work activity and continue to have a disabling impairment during a trial work period. For more information about work incentives, we recommend that you read our publication, Working While Disabled-How We Can Help at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10095.html.

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. learn about supplemental security income for aged, blind and disabled in next week’s column.




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