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Social Security Q&A Part 17

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Question: I have diabetes and I have to take insulin. Is my insulin covered by Medicare?

Answer: Medicare Part B does not cover insulin unless use of an insulin pump is medically necessary. However, certain Medicare Part D prescription drug plans may cover insulin and certain supplies used to inject insulin, like syringes. For more information, please visit www.medicare.gov/coverage/insulin.html.

Question: If I call 1-800-772-1213, can a Social Security representative take my application for Medicare prescription drug help over the phone?

Answer: If an interviewer is available when you call the 800 number, he or she can take your application over the phone. If an interviewer is not immediately available, we can schedule a telephone appointment for you. For the fastest and most convenient way to apply for Medicare prescription drug help, go online to www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

Question: If I retire at age 62, will I be eligible for Medicare?

Answer:  No. Medicare starts when you reach 65. If you retire at 62, you may be able to continue medical insurance coverage through your employer or purchase it from a private insurance company until you become eligible for Medicare. For more information see our publication, Medicare, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs, or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Question: I was incarcerated for 2 years. Before I was imprisoned, I received SSI benefits. Will my SSI payments start automatically when I am released?

Answer: No. You must contact your local Social Security office and provide them with information regarding your release dates. In some cases, it may be necessary to reapply for SSI benefits. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/reentry or contact your local Social Security office.

Question: I’m going to visit relatives outside the country for two weeks. Can I still get Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) payments while I’m there?

Answer: Your SSI usually will stop if you leave the United States for 30 consecutive days or more. Since you are going to be away for only two weeks, your SSI should not be affected. However, it’s important that you tell Social Security the date you plan to leave and the date you plan to come back. Then we can let you know whether your SSI will be affected. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Question: My uncle states that he is considered to be 70 percent disabled through the VA. Does Social Security rate my disability on a percentage scale?

Answer: Social Security does not rate individuals on a percentage scale for disability benefits. For Social Security purposes, a disability is defined as:

  • A medical condition(s) that must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or ends in death; and
  • The condition must prevent you from performing substantial work.

For more information regarding disability benefits, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi.

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