Rep. answers questions about online services, benefits and more
My father receives Social Security retirement benefits, and I will be in charge of his estate after he dies. Should that occur, do I need to report his death to Social Security or will benefits automatically stop?
When your father dies, please notify Social Security as soon as possible at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778). Another person, such as a spouse, may be eligible for survivors benefits based on his record. Also, we might be able to pay a one-time payment of $255 to help with funeral expenses. We suggest reading a copy of our online publication, “How Social Security Can Help You When a Family Member Dies,” at socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10008.html.
I’m planning to retire next year. I served in the Navy back in the 1960s and need to make sure I get credit for my military service. What do I need to do?
You don’t need to do anything to apply for the special credit for your military service — it is added automatically. For service between 1957 and 1967, we will add the extra credits to your record at the time you apply for Social Security benefits. For service between 1968 and 2001, those extra military service credits have already been added to your record. So, you can rest assured that we have you covered. Read our online publication, “Military Service and Social Security,” at socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10017.html. Then when the time comes to apply for retirement, you can do it conveniently and easily at socialsecurity.gov/retireonline.
How long does it take to complete the online application for retirement benefits?
It can take as little as 15 minutes to complete the online application. 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 any further information is needed. There's no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. To retire online, go to socialsecurity.gov/retireonline.
I have been collecting disability benefits for a few years, but I’m getting healthy enough to work again. Can I return to work while getting Social Security disability benefits?
Yes, you can return to work while receiving Social Security disability benefits. We have special rules to help you get back to work without lowering your initial benefits. You may be able to have a trial work period for nine months to test whether you can work. If you get disability benefits and your condition improves or you return to work, you must report these changes to us. Call us at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office. You can find your local office by visiting socialsecurity.gov/locator.
I get disability benefits and so does my cousin. Her children receive benefits on her record. I took an application for my children to receive benefits, but I was told that they were not eligible for payment. Why is this?
There are a few different reasons why a child might not receive benefits from a parent when the parent receives disability benefits. A child must be unmarried, below the age of 18, or younger than 19 and 2 months and still enrolled in high school. A child also may receive benefits if they were disabled before they turned 22. If these conditions are met and benefits are still not payable, it is possible that the parent is receiving the maximum amount payable by law on his or her own benefit. Additionally, if worker’s compensation is involved, the amount due to the children may be held as part of the parent’s worker’s compensation offset. For specific details regarding your own record, contact your local Social Security office or call 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-328-0778) between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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.
I have medical coverage through my employer. Do I have to take Medicare Part B?
You are not required to take Medicare Part B if you are covered by a group healthcare plan based on either your employment or the employment of a spouse. When your coverage ends, you may contact Social Security to request a special enrollment for Medicare Part B. We will need to verify your coverage through your employer in order for you to be eligible for a special enrollment. For more information, visit medicare.gov.
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 want to sign up for a Medicare Part C and D plan, but I’m not sure which plan I want. Is there a resource to help me find a plan?
Yes. Medicare.gov has an online plan finder and instructions available on how to use this tool.
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 email@example.com.