Expert answers questions about taxes, benefits and more
How can I get a copy of my Social Security Statement?
You can get your personal Social Security Statement online by using your personal My Social Security account. If you don’t yet have an account, you can easily create one. Your online statement gives you secure and convenient access to your earnings records. It also shows estimates for retirement, disability, and survivors benefits for which you and your family may be eligible.
To set up or use your account to get your online Social Security Statement, go to socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
We also mail statements to workers age 60 and over who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits and do not yet have a My Social Security account. We mail the statements three months prior to your birthday.
My daughter just joined a nonprofit charity and is helping victims of natural disasters. She gets a salary. We were wondering if she has to pay Social Security tax.
Yes, people who work for nonprofits and who receive a salary must pay Social Security tax just like everyone else. It is commendable that she is helping people in need. But the fact is that she is also a wage-earner. Those wages and the Social Security tax she pays on them will offer her financial relief in the future, when it comes time to apply for Social Security. So, she is really helping herself, too. For more information, visit our electronic publication, How You Earn Credits at socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
My wife and I live in Minnesota, but plan to spend the winter in New Mexico. My wife will turn 62 while we are down south. Can she apply for benefits in New Mexico, or do we have to wait until we get back home to apply for retirement at our local Social Security office?
These days, you don’t even have to be near a Social Security office to apply for benefits. Regardless of where you and your wife are living, you can apply for retirement benefits online at socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. It’s so easy to do and it can take as little as 15 minutes to complete and submit the application. If she prefers, your wife can file a retirement benefit application at any Social Security office—including the one closest to you in Minnesota, New Mexico, or wherever you happen to be.
I have never worked, but my spouse has. What will my benefits be?
You can be entitled to as much as one-half of your spouse's benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. If you decide to receive 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 socialsecurity.gov/retirement.
I applied for disability benefits, but was denied. I’d like to appeal. Can I do it online?
Yes. In fact, the best way to file a Social Security appeal is online. Our online appeal process is convenient and secure. Just go to socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeal to appeal the decision. People who do not have access to the internet may call 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment to visit a local Social Security office to file an appeal.
How do I know if I meet the eligibility requirements to get Social Security disability benefits?
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have worked long enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually 10 years). You must also have a medical condition that meets Social Security's strict definition of disability. We consider an adult disabled under our rules if he or she has a medical condition, or combination of medical conditions, that are expected to last for at least one year or result in death, and that prevent the performance of any type of work. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application at socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability.
What’s the best way to find out if I might be eligible for SSI?
Our online Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool will help you find out if you could get benefits that Social Security administers. Based on your answers to questions, this tool will list benefits for which you might be eligible and tell you more information about how to qualify and apply. Find BEST at benefits.gov/ssa.
Are Supplemental Security Income benefits subject to federal income tax?
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 socialsecurity.gov.
I have an appointment to apply for Supplemental Security Income. What kind of information will I need to take with me?
To help make the application process go quickly and smoothly, you should bring:
• Your Social Security card or Social Security Number.
• Your birth certificate or other proof of your age.
• The name, Social Security number and date of birth or age of your current spouse and any former spouse. You should also know the dates and places of marriage and dates of divorce or death (if applicable).
• Information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name.
• Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, burial fund records, and other information about your income and the things you own.
• Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status.
• If you are applying for SSI because you are disabled or blind, we will need to know detailed information about your medical illnesses, injuries, or conditions:
-Names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers, and dates of treatment for all doctors, hospitals and clinics;
-Names of medicines you are taking and who prescribed them; and
-Names and dates of medical tests you have had and who sent you for them.
Read our publication, “You May Be Able To Get Supplemental Security Income” at socialsecurity.gov/pubs to learn more.
Vonda VanTil is the public affairs specialist for West Michigan. You may write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.