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SOCIAL SECURITY Q & A

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

SOCIAL SECURITY Q&A

Question: We adopted a baby girl overseas and brought her home with us to the United States. We need to get a Social Security number for her. What do we do?

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Answer: In general, to apply for a Social Security number for your child you must:

• Complete an application for A Social Security Card (Form SS-5), which you can find online at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber;

• Show them documents proving your child’s: United States citizenship or immigration status, adoption, age and identity.

• Show them a document proving your identity.

• Show them evidence that establishes your relationship to the child if your name is not noted as the parent on the child’s evidence of age. The adoption decree or the amended U.S. birth certificate will suffice.

In most cases, you can mail or take your application and original documents to your local Social Security office. Remember, all documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. You may not yet have proof of your child’s citizenship, but we can assign a Social Security number based on documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security upon the child’s arrival in the United States. When you do receive documentation of your child’s citizenship, you can bring it to us, and we will update your child’s record. We will mail your child’s number and card as soon as we have verified your documents with the issuing offices.

Question: Can I use the metal or plastic versions of Social Security cards that some companies make?

Answer: We don’t recommend it. There is no need to have a replica of your card. In most cases, the only time you may need to produce your Social Security card is when you apply for employment. At other times, we strongly recommend that you keep anything with your Social Security number on it with your other important papers. Do not carry your Social Security card with you. Also, we strongly advise against laminating your card. You should question anyone else other than your employer who asks for your Social Security number or your card. Not everyone you do business with needs it. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

RETIREMENT

Question: How long do I need to work to become eligible for retirement benefits?

Answer: Everyone born in 1929 or later needs 40 Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement benefits. You can earn up to four credits per year, so you will need at least 10 years of work to become eligible for retirement benefits. During your working years, earnings covered by Social Security are posted to your Social Security record. You earn credits based on those earnings. If you become disabled or die before age 62, the number of credits needed to qualify for Social Security benefits depends on your age at the time you die or become disabled. A minimum of six credits is required to qualify for Social Security benefits regardless of your age. You can create a my Social Security account to check and periodically monitor how many credits you have. Just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Question: I have children at home, and I plan to retire next fall. Will my children be eligible for monthly Social Security payments after I retire?

Answer: Your children may get monthly Social Security payments if they are: Unmarried and under age 18; Age 19 and still in high school; or age 18 or over and became severely disabled before age 22 and continue to be disabled.

For more information, read Benefits For Children available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

DISABILITY

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

Answer: No. Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved, and you cannot work. We will periodically review your case to determine if you continue to be eligible. If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach your full retirement age, your disability benefits will automatically be converted to retirement benefits. The amount you receive will remain the same. Learn more about disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

Question: Why is there a five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?

Answer: Social Security provides only long-term disability, so we can only pay benefits after you have been disabled continuously for a period of five full calendar months. Social Security disability benefits begin with the sixth full month after the date your disability began. You are not entitled to benefits for any month during the waiting period. Learn more at our website: www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME

Question: My grandfather, who is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), will be coming to live with me. Does he have to report the move to Social Security?

Answer: Yes. An SSI beneficiary must report any change in living arrangements before the 10th day of the following month. If you do not report the change, your grandfather could receive an incorrect payment and have to pay it back, or he may not receive all the money that he is due. Failure to report a change to us could result in the deduction of a penalty from his SSI benefits. Your grandfather also needs to report the new address to us to receive mail from us. You can report the change by mail or in person at any Social Security office. Call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778). You can get more information by reading Understanding SSI at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi.

Question: I want to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but I don’t know whether I qualify since I own my own home. Can I still get SSI?

Answer: Yes, it is possible for you to qualify for SSI even if you own your own home. To be eligible for SSI, you cannot own more than $2,000 in resources for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. However, we do not count the house you live in as a resource. Of course, if you are disabled, you must file an application and wait for a medical decision on your claim, unless you are over the age of 65. There are other requirements you must meet as well. Learn more by reading You May Be Able To Get SSI, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

MEDICARE

Question: I found out that my daughter submitted incorrect information about my resources when she completed my Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs. How can I get my application changed now to show the correct amount?

Answer: You can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778) and let us know. We will match information on your application with data from other federal agencies. If there is a discrepancy that requires verification, we will contact you. For additional information about Medicare prescription drug plans or enrollment periods visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-633-4227.

JON NOYES is the district manager at the Social Security Administration in St. Cloud.

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