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Social Security Q&A Part 24

By Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Question: I pay my monthly premium directly to my Medicare prescription drug plan provider. Why can’t I also pay my income-related monthly adjustment amount directly to my Medicare prescription drug plan provider?

Answer: By law, we must deduct your income-related monthly adjustment amount from your Social Security payments. If the amount you owe is more than the amount of your payment, or you don’t get monthly payments, you will get a separate bill from another federal agency, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or the Railroad Retirement Board. Read Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries for an idea of what you can expect to pay at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.


Question: I’m 65, not ready to retire, but I want to apply for my Medicare coverage. How can I do that?

Answer: The easiest and most convenient way is to apply online. Use our online application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. You’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail. It’s convenient, quick, and easy. There’s no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. Get started today at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/medicare.


Question: I’ve been receiving SSI for a few years and recently went back to work. My boss wants me to work full time and I feel like I can do the job, but I’m concerned about losing my Medicaid coverage. If my SSI payments stop due to my earnings, can I still keep my Medicaid?

Answer: In most cases, Medicaid coverage will continue even if your earned income is too high to receive an SSI payment. In order to qualify for this coverage, you must:

  • Be blind or have a disability;
  • Meet all the SSI eligibility requirements, except for the amount of your earnings;
  • Be eligible to receive a regular SSI cash payment for at least one month before you became eligible under Section 1619 of the Social Security Act;
  • Have been eligible for Medicaid coverage in the month before you became eligible under Section 1619;
  • Need continued Medicaid in order to work; and
  • Have earnings that would not replace the value of your SSI cash benefits, your Medicaid benefits, and any publicly funded personal or attendant care you receive that would be lost due to your earnings.

The amount you can earn and still receive Medicaid varies from state to state. Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) for more information.


Question: My brother had an accident at work last year and is now receiving Social Security disability benefits. His wife and son also receive benefits. Before his accident, he helped support another daughter by a woman he never married. Is the second child entitled to benefits?

Answer: The child may qualify for Social Security benefits even though your brother wasn’t married to the second child’s mother. The child’s caretaker should file an application on her behalf. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.


Question: What are Compassionate Allowances?

Answer: Compassionate Allowances are Social Security’s way of quickly identifying severe diseases and other medical conditions that qualify a person for disability benefits without waiting a long time. Compassionate Allowances permit Social Security to target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances and faster payment of benefits based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly. Compassionate Allowances are not separate from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Find out more at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

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.