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

Social Security: Your questions, our answers

Kathy Petersen

For the January 21, 2012 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

Question: I prefer reading by audio book. Does Social Security have audio publications?

Answer: Yes, we do. You can find them at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Some of the publications available include What You Can Do Online, How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies, Apply Online For Social Security Benefits, and Your Social Security Card And Number. You can listen now at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Question: I am receiving Social Security retirement benefits and I recently went back to work. Do I have to pay Social Security (FICA) taxes on my income?

Answer: Yes. By law, your employer must withhold FICA taxes from your paycheck. Although you are retired, you do receive credit for those new earnings. Each year Social Security automatically credits the new earnings and, if your new earnings are higher than in any earlier year used to calculate your current benefit, your monthly benefit could increase. For more information, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Question: I know that Social Security’s full retirement age is gradually rising to 67. But does this mean the “early” retirement age will also be going up by two years, from age 62 to 64?

Answer: No. While it is true that under current law the full retirement age is gradually rising from 65 to 67, the “early” retirement age remains at 62. Keep in mind, however, that taking early retirement reduces your benefit amount. For more information about Social Security benefits, visit the Web site at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/r&m1.htm.

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Question: If I retire and start getting Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, will my Medicare coverage begin then too?

Answer: No. Medicare benefits based on retirement do not begin until a person is age 65. If you retire at age 62, you may be able to continue to have medical insurance coverage through your employer or purchase it from an insurance company until you reach age 65 and become eligible for Medicare. For more information about who can get Medicare, visit http://www.medicare.gov.

Question: I’ve heard there is a way for my daughter to get her disability application on the “fast-track.” How does this work?

Answer: If your daughter has one of the more than 100 impairments on the Compassionate Allowances list at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances, her application might be “fast-tracked” for a decision. Compassionate Allowances make it possible for applicants to receive a decision on their disability applications within days instead of months or years as long as their medical conditions are so severe that they obviously meet Social Security’s definition of disability. Learn more at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

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. Get fast facts about Social Security in next week’s column.