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A Social Security Administration Q and A

SOCIAL SECURITY

Chuck Stovall

Question: I received a notice from Social Security recently. It said my name and Social Security number do not match Social Security’s records. What should I do?

Answer: It’s critical that your name and Social Security number, as shown on your Social Security card, match your employer’s payroll records and your W-2 form. If they don’t, here is what you need to do:

  • Give your employer the correct information exactly as shown on your Social Security card or your corrected card; or
  • Contact your local Social Security office (www.socialsecurity. gov/locator) or call 1-800-772- 1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) if your Social Security card does not show your correct name or Social Security number.

For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity. gov.

Question: Are Social Security numbers reassigned after a person dies?

Answer: No. We do not reassign Social Security numbers. In all, we have assigned more than 460 million Social Security numbers, and each year we assign about 5.5 million new numbers. The current system has enough new numbers for several more generations. For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us toll-free at 1-800- 772-1213 (TTY 1-800- 325-0778).

RETIREMENT

Question: Can I apply online for retirement benefits?

Answer: Yes. It’s quick and easy. Apply online and save yourself a trip to the office. Once you submit your online application electronically, in most cases, you’re done. There are no forms to sign or documents to send in. If we do need more information to process your application, a representative will contact you. For more information about applying online, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Question: If both my spouse and I are entitled to Social Security benefits, is there any reduction in our payments because we are married?

Answer: No. We independently calculate each spouse’s Social Security benefit amount. Each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. Couples are not penalized simply because they are married. If one member of the couple earned low wages or did not earn enough Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse.

DISABILITY

Question: How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?

Answer: If you are an adult, you must be unable to work for a year or more because of a medical condition or combination of medical impairments. Overall, we use a five-step evaluation process to decide whether you are disabled. The process considers any current work activity you are doing. It also considers your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work. To be found disabled:

  • You must be unable to do work you did before you became disabled and we must decide you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition; and
  • Your disability must last, or be expected to last, for at least one year or to result in death.

Social Security pays only for total disability. We do not pay benefits for partial or short-term disability. For more information, read our publication Disability Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html.

This is part of the October 5, 2011 online edition of Frost Illustrated.

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