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May’s Q and A with SSA

May 10, 2016, 2:15 p.m.
File for Benefits Online

By Kirk Larson

Social Security Washington Public Affairs Specialist

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Question:

Although I stopped working a few years ago, I had additional seasonal earnings after my retirement. Will my monthly Social Security retirement benefit increase?

Answer:

Possibly. And, you can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase their monthly benefit amounts. If an increase is due, we calculate a new benefit amount and pay the increase retroactive to January following the year of earnings. You can learn more about how work affects your benefits by reading our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Question:

My same-sex partner and I recently married. Will we qualify for Social Security benefits?

Answer:

You may be eligible to apply for Social Security benefits. Many factors affect your eligibility for benefits, including how long you worked and your age. Social Security is now processing more claims in which entitlement or eligibility is affected by a same-sex relationship. We encourage you to apply for benefits right away, even if you aren't sure you’re eligible. Applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits. You can apply safely and securely at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. Learn more about Social Security for same-sex couples by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/same-sexcouples.

Question:

I was hurt on the job and can’t work. How do I start my application for Social Security disability benefits?

Answer:

If you have a disability that qualifies, you can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. There are several advantages to applying online for disability benefits. You can start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment. You can apply from the convenience of your home or on any computer. And, you avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money. You can use the online application to apply for benefits if you are age 18 or older, have a medical condition that has prevented you from working or is expected to prevent you from working for at least 12 months or result in death, and reside in the United States or one of its territories or commonwealths. .

Question:

I will rely on Medicare when I retire. Can you explain the different parts of Medicare?

Answer:

The different parts of Medicare cover your specific needs. There are four parts, all of which work in tandem to deliver healthcare services.

• Part A (hospital insurance): Hospital insurance helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay), some home health care, and hospice care.

• Part B (medical insurance): Medical insurance helps pay for doctors’ services and many other medical services and supplies that hospital insurance doesn’t cover.

• Part C (Medicare Advantage plans): If you have Medicare Parts A and B, you can join a Medicare Advantage plan. Private companies offer Medicare Advantage plans which are approved by Medicare. These plans generally help you pay the medical costs not covered by Medicare Part A and B.

• Part D (prescription drug coverage): Prescription drug coverage helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for treatment.

Question:

When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, are benefits payable on that person’s record?

Answer:

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; and

• Dependent parents age 62 or older.

Even if you are divorced, you still may qualify for survivors benefits. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov.

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