By Vonda Vantil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Question: My grandmother receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. She may have to enter a nursing home to get the long-term care she needs. How does this affect her SSI benefits?
Answer: Moving to a nursing home could affect your grandmother’s SSI benefits, depending on the type of facility. In many cases, we have to reduce or stop SSI payments to nursing home residents, including when Medicaid covers the cost of the nursing home care. When your grandmother enters or leaves a nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital, skilled nursing facility, or any other kind of institution, you must notify Social Security right away. Learn more about SSI reporting responsibilities at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi. You can call Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to report a change.
Question: I am applying for disability benefits. Why do I have to answer questions about my previous job and education?
Answer: When making a decision regarding disability benefits, the Disability Determination Services, or DDS, uses information related to your prior work and education levels to supplement the medical information. This helps DDS to determine how your conditions relate to your past relevant work. For more information regarding the disability process, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi/.
Question: I currently receive Social Security disability benefits. I now have a second serious disability. Can my monthly benefit amount be increased?
Answer: No. Your Social Security disability benefit amount is based on the amount of your lifetime earnings before your disability began and not the number of disabling conditions or illnesses you may have. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.
Question: Although I stopped working a few years ago, I had additional seasonal earnings after my retirement. Will my monthly Social Security retirement benefit increase?
Answer: Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase their monthly benefit amounts. If an increase is due, we calculate a new benefit amount and pay the increase retroactive to January following the year of earnings. You can learn more about how work affects your benefits by reading our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Question: I’m retiring early, at age 62, and I receive investment income from a rental property I own. Does investment income count as earnings?
Answer: No. We count only the wages you earn from a job or your net profit if you’re self-employed. Non-work income such as annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains, and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits. Most pensions will not affect your benefits. However, your benefit may be affected by government pensions earned through work on which you did not pay Social Security tax. You can retire online at www.socialsecurity.gov. For more information, call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at email@example.com