Social Security: Your questions, our answers
June 17, 2011
Question: Is it true I must now receive my benefits through direct deposit?
Answer: Anyone applying for benefits on or after May 1, 2011, will be required to receive their payments electronically, while those already receiving paper checks will need to switch by March 1, 2013. Paper checks will no longer be an option for most people. If you don’t have a bank account, you can get your benefits through the Direct Express debit Mastercard. Switching from checks to electronic payments is fast, easy, and free at http://www.godirect.org. You also can call the U.S. Treasury Processing Center’s toll-free helpline at 1-800-333-1795 or speak with a bank or credit union representative or contact Social Security for help.
Question: I’m getting a summer job and I can’t find my Social Security card. Do I need to get a new one?
Answer: Ask your potential employer if he or she needs to see the card or if just the number is required. Knowing your number is usually what is important. If you do need to get a replacement card, come to your local Social Security office or Social Security Card Center and show us documents proving your identity and, possibly, citizenship. You can go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber for more specific information about the process of getting a new card and where to take your information. At that website, you can also download a copy of the simple application to have pre-filled when you visit.
Question: If I have a question about my Medicare bill, who should I contact first?
Answer: First, contact your provider. If you are unable to get your question answered or problem resolved, then contact 1-800-MEDICARE. For more information about Medicare benefits, visit http://www.Medicare.gov.
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Question: I’m applying for disability benefits. Do I automatically receive Medicare benefits if I’m approved for disability benefits?
Answer: You will receive Medicare after you receive disability benefits for 24 months. When you become eligible for disability benefits, we will automatically enroll you in Medicare. We start counting the 24 months from the month you were entitled to receive disability, not the month when you received your first payment. Special rules apply to people with permanent kidney failure and those with “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Learn more about Social Security disability benefits by reading our publication at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.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 email@example.com. next week’s topic tells how to make sure you’re getting the right amount from social security.