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Social Security Q&A Part 9

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Question:

I have never worked but my spouse has. What will my benefits be?

Answer: 

You can be entitled to as much as one-half of your spouse’s benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. If you want to get Social Security retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age, the amount of your benefit is reduced. The amount of reduction depends on when you will reach full retirement age. For example, if your full retirement age is 66, you can get 35 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction); if your full retirement age is 67, you can get 32.5 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction).

The amount of your benefit increases if your entitlement begins at a later age, up to the maximum of 50 percent at full retirement age. However, if you are taking care of a child who is under age 16 or who gets Social Security disability benefits on your spouse’s record, you get the full spouse’s benefits, regardless of your age. Learn more about retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement.

Question:

I’m retired and the only income I have is a monthly withdrawal from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Are the IRA withdrawals considered “earnings?” Could they reduce my monthly Social Security benefits?

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 pensions, annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains, and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits. For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Question:

I get Social Security because of a disability. How often will my case be reviewed to determine if I’m still eligible?

Answer:

How often we review your medical condition depends on how severe it is and the likelihood it will improve. Your award notice tells you when you can expect your first review using the following terminology:

* Medical improvement expected — If your condition is expected to improve within a specific time, your first review will be six to 18 months after you started getting disability benefits.

* Medical improvement possible — If improvement in your medical condition is possible, your case will be reviewed about every three years.

* Medical improvement not expected—If your medical condition is unlikely to improve, your case will be reviewed about once every five to seven years.

For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov

Question:

It’s hard for me to get around because of my disability. Can I apply for disability benefits from home?

Answer:

Yes. In fact, the best way to apply for disability benefits is online. Our online disability application is convenient and secure. You can apply for benefits over the Internet at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment to visit your local Social Security office to apply. However you decide to apply, begin by looking at our Disability Starter Kit at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. It will help you prepare for your application or interview.

Question:

Are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits subject to federal income tax?

Answer:

No. SSI payments are not subject to federal taxes. If you get SSI, you will not receive an annual form SSA-1099. However, your Social Security benefits may be subject to income tax. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Question:

I have medical coverage through my employer. Do I have to take Medicare Part B?

Answer:

You are not required to take Medicare Part B if you are covered by a group healthcare plan based on either your employment or the employment of a spouse. When your coverage ends, you may contact the Social Security Administration to request a special enrollment for Medicare Part B. We will need to verify your coverage through your employer in order for you to be eligible for a special enrollment. For more information, visit www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/get-parts-a-and-b/when-sign-up-parts-a-and-b/when-sign-up-parts-a-and-b.html.

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 vonda.vantil@ssa.gov

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