Social Security: Your questions, our answers July 2012
Question: Can I receive Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits at the same time?
Answer: You may be able to receive SSI in addition to monthly Social Security benefits if your Social Security benefit is low enough for you to qualify for SSI. Whether you can get SSI depends on your income and resources (the things you own). If you have low income and few resources, you may be able to supplement your Social Security benefit with an SSI payment. You can find out more about SSI by going to http://www.socialsecurity.gov and selecting the “SSI” banner at the top of the page.
Question: My doctor said he thinks I’m disabled. Who decides if I meet the requirements for Social Security disability benefits?
Answer: We first will review your application to make sure you meet some basic requirements for Social Security disability benefits, such as whether you worked enough years to qualify. Then we will send your application to the disability determination services office in your state, often called the “DDS” or “state agency” to determine whether you meet the legal definition of disabled. Your state agency completes the disability decision for us. Doctors and disability specialists in the state agency ask your doctors for information about your condition. They consider all the facts in your case. They use the medical evidence from your doctors and hospitals, clinics, or institutions where you have been treated and all other information.
The state agency staff may need more medical information before they can decide if you are disabled. If more information is not available from your current medical sources, the state agency may ask you to go for a special examination. The preference is to ask your own doctor, but sometimes the exam may have to be done by someone else. Social Security will pay for the exam and for some of the related travel costs. Learn more about disability benefits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.
Question: I just got back from an overseas military deployment and I want to plan ahead for my retirement. How will my military retirement affect my Social Security benefits?
Answer: Your military retirement won’t affect your Social Security benefits at all. You can get both. Generally, there is no offset of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement. You will get full Social Security benefits based on your earnings. However your Social Security benefit might be reduced if you also receive a government pension based on a job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes. You can find more information in the publication Military Service and Social Security at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10017.html. Or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). F
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.