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Social Security Q&A Part 16

Question: Can I refuse to give my Social Security number to a private business?

Answer: Yes, you can refuse to disclose your Social Security number, and you should be careful about giving out your number. But, be aware, the person requesting your number can refuse services if you don’t give it. Businesses, banks, schools, private agencies, etc., are free to request someone’s number and use it for any purpose that doesn’t violate a federal or state law. To learn more about your Social Security number, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Question: I know that Social Security’s full retirement age is gradually rising to 67. But does this mean the “early” retirement age will also be going up by two years, from age 62 to 64?

Answer: No. While it is true that under current law the full retirement age is gradually rising from 65 to 67, the “early” retirement age remains at 62. Keep in mind, however, that taking early retirement reduces your benefit amount. For more information about Social Security benefits, visit the website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement.

Question: I worked the first half of the year, but plan to retire this month. Will Social Security count the amount I earn for this year when I retire?

Answer:  Yes. If you retire mid-year, we count your earnings for the entire year. We have a special “earnings test” rule we apply to annual earnings, usually in the first year of retirement. Under this rule, you get a full payment for any whole month we consider you retired regardless of your yearly earnings. We consider you retired during any month your earnings are below the monthly earnings limit, or if you have not performed substantial services in self-employment. We do not consider income earned, beginning with the month you reach full retirement age. Learn more about the earnings test rule at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/rule.htm.

Question: My aunt became mentally disabled as a result of a car accident. Does Social Security have a special program for people who are obviously physically or mentally disabled?

Answer: Social Security is committed to providing benefits quickly to applicants who are severely disabled. Through our Compassionate Allowances program, we can quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that qualify, based on minimal objective medical information, and that allow us to make payments much sooner than the usual review process allows. Compassionate Allowances is not a separate program from the Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs. People who don’t meet the Compassionate Allowances criteria will still have their medical conditions reviewed by Social Security.

Learn more about our Compassionate Allowances at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances

Question: I have been getting Social Security disability benefits for many years. I’m about to hit my full retirement age. What will happen to my disability benefits?

Answer: When you reach “full retirement age” we will switch you from disability to retirement benefits. But you won’t even notice the change because your benefit amount will stay the same. It’s just that when you reach retirement age, we consider you to be a “retiree” and not a disability beneficiary. To learn more, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Question: I am receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Can my children receive dependent’s benefits based on my benefits?

Answer: No. SSI benefits are based on the needs of one individual and are paid only to the qualifying person. Disabled children are potentially eligible for SSI, but there are no spouse’s, dependent children’s, or survivors benefits payable as there are with Social Security benefits. For more information, see our publication, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Simply type the title of the publication in the publication search box on the left side of the page. You also may want to read Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI), available at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-understanding-ssi.htm.

Question:  If I have a question about my Medicare bill, who should I contact?

Answer: First, contact your provider. If you are unable to get your question answered or the problem resolved, then contact 1-800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). For more information about Medicare benefits, visit www.medicare.gov.

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