By Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
I’m 65, not ready to retire, but I want to apply for my Medicare coverage. How can I do that?
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.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare.
I lost my Medicare card. How can I get replacement?
The easiest and newest way to get a replacement Medicare card is by using your my Social Security account. Go to www.ssa.gov/myaccount for more information on how to create an account. You also can get a replacement Medicare card by calling us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Keep your card in a safe place. You don’t want anyone getting hold of your Social Security number. They could steal your identity.
How can I get proof of my benefits to apply for a loan?
If you need proof you get Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicare, you can request a benefit verification letter online through your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. This letter is sometimes called a “budget letter,” a “benefits letter,” a “proof of income letter,” or a “proof of award letter.” You even can select the information you want included in your online benefit verification letter.
What are some of the documents Social Security will accept as proof of identity for a child?
While you can use a birth certificate to prove age or citizenship, you cannot use it as proof of identity. Social Security needs evidence of the child’s existence after birth. An acceptable document must show your child’s name, identifying information, and, preferably, a recent photograph. Your child must be present unless the picture ID also shows your child’s biographical information (i.e., age, date of birth, and parents’ names). We generally can accept a non-photo identity document if it has enough information to identify the child (such as the child’s name and age, date of birth, and parents’ names). We prefer to see the child’s U.S. passport. If that document is not available, we may accept the child’s:
- Adoption decree.
- Doctor, clinic, or hospital record.
- Religious record (e.g., baptismal record).
- Daycare center or school record.
- School identification card.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. To find out more, visit www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ssnumber. There, you can also find out what documents you need, fill out and print an application, and then bring or mail the needed information to Social Security. You may also want to read the publication, Social Security Numbers For Children, available at www.ssa.gov/pubs.
When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, are benefits payable on that person’s record?
Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:
- A widow or widower—unreduced benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60.
- A disabled widow or widower—as early as age 50.
- A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits.
- Unmarried children under 18 or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children.
- Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.
- Dependent parents age 62 or older.
Even if you are divorced, you still may qualify for survivors benefits. For more information, go to www.ssa.gov.
How are my retirement benefits calculated?
Your Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over your lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or “indexed” to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then we calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit. This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age. You may be able to estimate your benefit by using our Retirement Estimator, which offers estimates based on your Social Security earnings. You can find the Retirement Estimator at www.ssa.gov/estimator.