Young people get Social Security

Regular readers know that Social Security benefits people of all ages. Highlighting information for children under the age of 18, at the end of 2013 about 3.2 million children under the age of 18 were receiving an average monthly benefit of $534 because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired or deceased.

When a parent becomes disabled or dies, Social Security benefits help to stabilize the family’s financial future. In fact:

About 325,690 minor children of retired workers were receiving an average monthly benefit of $615.

About 1.2 million minor children of deceased workers were receiving an average monthly survivor benefit of $806.

About 1.7 million minor children of disabled workers were receiving an average monthly benefit of $328.

 More about Social Security protection for young people is at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/youngpeople/

 

 

Are SSI amounts the same all across the country?

Q: Are SSI amounts the same all across the country?

A: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is very different from Social Security even though both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration.

Signed into law by President Nixon in 1972 (Public Law 92-603), SSI is need based and can provide payments to people with limited income or financial resources. SSI payments can be for people age 65 or older, plus disabled or blind children and adults.

As a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues, not Social Security taxes, the basic maximum amounts are the same all across the country. Effective January 2014, the maximum monthly Federal benefit rates are $721 for an individual and $1,082 for a couple. Other income can reduce these amounts.

Individual States can choose to supplement the national amounts by adding to the Federal amount. If done, any additional amounts are based on State rules related the person’s income, living arrangements or other factors. There is wide variance across the country for this. Some States do not pay any supplemental amount, some do with funds included in the Federal payment, and some administer their own supplement arrangement.

Basic Supplemental Security Income information is at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/ssi.htm.

Not all income or resources count towards the SSI limits. To learn more or apply, contact Social Security by calling the national number, 1-800-772-1213 / TTY 1-800-325-0778, or your local office. 

Who receives benefits for a child? The representative payee.

Q: To receive benefits, must children be living in the same household when a parent receives Social Security disability?

A: No. For Social Security retirement, disability and survivors benefits, the parent-to-child relationship is important in determining if a child is eligible for payment.

This means that otherwise eligible children born in an existing marriage, without marriage, or in an ended marriage can receive Social Security if a parent receives retirement or disability, or survivors benefits if the parent is deceased. Child benefits are payable to eligible adopted or stepchildren. For stepchildren, the parent-to-parent relationship is important because it defines the parent-to-child relationship.

For a minor, or perhaps a disabled child, a separate question is what person receives those Social Security benefits on behalf of the child. Actual custody or other legal responsibility helps determine the person or agency to receive SSA payments on behalf of a child. Usually the custodial parent will be the person selected to receive these if the parents do not live together.

For a commonplace example, assume Parent A is receiving Social Security benefits and has a biological minor child living in another town with Parent B. If all other requirements are met, the child can receive Social Security benefits through the record of Parent A. Since Parent B has custody, those SSA benefits for the child would be paid to Parent B.

Representative payee is the term Social Security uses for a person receiving benefits on behalf of another person. In the above example, Parent B is representative payee for the child. 

Not just for children, representative payees are appointed to provide financial management for the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments of people who are incapable of managing their own payments.

To become a representative payee, a person or agency must file an application and then provide ongoing accounting of how funds are used. Payees are appointed only for Social Security and SSI purposes and are completely different from guardianship or power of attorney. FAQ’s for representative payees are here.

Note that the Treasury Department does not recognize power of attorney for the purposes of negotiating federal payments, including Social Security or SSI checks.

 

Medicare and pre-existing health conditions

Q: I enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital) at age 65, but not Part B (Medical) because I was still working and had good health insurance through my employer. Now age 67, I will soon be retiring, in part due to some health problems. Can those health problems prevent me from getting Medicare Part B coverage?

A: Existing health problems will not prevent your enrollment in Medicare.

Many people think of Medicare as beginning only at age 65, but certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare, including those who have disabilities, permanent kidney failure or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). People receiving Social Security benefits based on their own disability become eligible for Medicare after two years. These people all have existing health problems.

Having employer medical coverage from current employment is the usual reason for not enrolling in Part B immediately at age 65. Since you did not enroll in Medicare Part B because of existing employer coverage, upon retirement you can enroll anytime during the year without premium penalty. Enroll at least two to three months before retiring. This allows time for your local Social Security office to work with your existing health insurance to have the Medicare Part B effective upon your retirement.

More information about Medicare enrollment is in the Medicare area of the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov  and in the publication Medicare.

See the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov, for coverage details.

February 2014 statistical snapshot

The monthly statistical snapshot for February 2014 for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available. Monthly snapshots provide a quick view about benefits paid during the month.

Here you can learn national totals, by beneficiary count and percentage, of the different benefits paid and average amounts of each type of benefit.

For example, during February 2014, retirement related benefits accounted for 70.6 percent of all Social Security benefits paid, including benefits to retired workers, spouses of retired workers and children of retired workers. Each of these categories is shown separately with its own percentage of the total and other information.

In February 2014, across the nation 58,201 thousand people of all ages received a Social Security payment. Noted above, most of this was retirement related. Survivor benefits accounted for 10.6 percent and disability benefits, including family members, accounted for 18.9 percent.

A detailed February benefit picture for the separate Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is linked at the bottom of the snapshot page.

 You can subscribe to receive an email alert when these monthly updates are released. To do so, follow the “Subscribe to Updates” link

SSA disability decision expedited for vets with 100% VA compensation

Requirements for Social Security and VA disability programs are very different. Eligibility for one does not mean eligibility for the other.

With that reminder, on March 17, the Social Security Administration began expediting disability claims for veterans who have a disability compensation rating of 100 percent permanent and total (P&T) by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, designated expediting disability claims for these veterans as one of the agency’s priorities. This is an interagency collaboration between the VA and Social Security to help veterans gain timely access to the benefits they may be eligible for and deserve.

This differs from the “Wounded Warrior” expedited claims process, which is designed only for military service members who became disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001 no matter where the disability occurred. The new expedited claims process is designed for all veterans, regardless of when they served as long as they have a VA compensation rating of 100 percent P&T.

In order to receive the expedited service, veterans must tell Social Security they have a VA disability compensation rating of 100% P&T and show proof of their disability rating with their VA Notification Letter.

The VA rating only expedites Social Security disability claims processing and does not guarantee an approval for Social Security disability benefits. These veterans must still meet the strict eligibility requirements for a disability allowance.

More about this new expedited claims process is on the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability-pt.htm.

Learn about Social Security disability benefits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability.htm.

SSA testimony to Congress about anti-fraud efforts

On February 26, 2014, Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, testified before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. Her testimony was about SSA anti-fraud efforts and you can read it here.

The Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov, contains a “Report Fraud, Waste or Abuse” link to the SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG). There you can learn more about investigations and read about recent cases. You can also submit a report if you suspect someone of committing fraud, waste, or abuse against Social Security.  

 

Annual Statistical Supplement, 2013, now available

The Social Security Annual Statistical Supplement, 2013 is now available. 

The Supplement includes more than 240 statistical tables providing comprehensive data on programs administered by the Social Security Administration. These are Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) ) programs and the separate Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.  

Information includes beneficiary counts, benefit amounts, trust fund status, program summaries and legislative histories to help you understand these programs.

In addition to Social Security administered programs, information is presented about the major health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid, and other social insurance pro­grams, including workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, temporary disability insurance, Black Lung benefits and veterans’ benefits.

With so much information available, it is likely that some part of the Supplement will interest you.

Table of contents: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/index.html

Highlights: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/highlights.html

Many information snippets are here, including about unemployment, workers’ compensation veterans’ benefits are.  For example:

  • About 56.8 million persons received Social Security benefits for December 2012, an increase of 1,353,705 (2.4 percent) since December 2011. Seventy percent were retired workers and their spouses and children, 11 percent were survivors of deceased workers, and 19 percent were disabled workers and their spouses and children.
  • OASDI benefit awards in calendar year 2012 totaled 5,654,668, including 2,735,007 to retired workers, 511,524 to their spouses and children, and 885,060 to survivors of insured workers. Benefits were awarded to 960,206 disabled workers and to 562,871 of their spouses and children.

Trust fund section: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/4a.html

Current beneficiary information: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/5a.html

Beneficiaries by state: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/5j.html

Information about people working and paying into Social Security: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/4b.html

Veterans’ benefits: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/veterans.html and http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/9f.html

Do not ignore letters from Social Security

The Social Security Administration sends people letters about their benefits for many reasons. Some of these letters confirm that action was taken to change something, such as your address.

Read these letters. They are important. Especially if the letter is confirming a change made to where your Social Security payment is sent, for example, to a different bank. The letter is sent as protection for you.

For example, if you contacted Social Security to change where you payment goes, such as to a different bank account, the letter is confirmation that action was taken and tells you the effective date of change.

What if you received a letter like this but did not make any change? Do not ignore the letter. It might mean that thieves are trying to hack into your Social Security record in order to have your benefits sent to an account they control. There have been instances of this across the country.   

Contact Social Security immediately if you receive a letter about a change in your bank direct deposit that you did not authorize. If phones are busy, be patient. Call the national Social Security toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 / TTY 1-800-325-0778 (hours of 7:00am – 7:00pm, local time) or contact your local office. SSA national and local representatives use the same computer system to help you.

Protect yourself. Social Security does not send email asking for personal information nor do representative’s cold call for information. When you contact us, information is needed so that your questions can be answered. The difference is that you made the call, it was not unexpected.

Do not ignore letters from Social Security about your benefits, especially one about a change that you did not authorize.

Disabled Adult Child benefits

Earlier this week I wrote about Social Security survivors benefits for a disabled widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse. Although having a disability is key to these, they are survivors benefits because they are based on the work record of the deceased, rather than the work record of the person receiving the benefit.

Another type of Social Security family benefit involving disability is for disabled adult children, age 18 and older. This variation of child benefits is available through your work record whether you are receiving Social Security retirement, disability or you are deceased and your family is eligible for survivors benefits.

When younger than age 18, eligible children can receive Social Security family benefits through a parent’s record whether the child is disabled or not. One factor for paying family benefits to a child past age 18 is whether they have a disabling impairment that started before the age of 22.

The issue is not how old your adult child is at time of application but their age at start of their disability. For example, if your child has a severe disability since birth, he or she could be in their 40’s when you file for Social Security retirement. However, since the impairment began before age 22, benefits as a disabled child through your record are possible at that time.

If he or she had worked and paid into the Social Security system, a disabled adult child might also be eligible for SSA disability through their own record. This does not prevent them from possibly receiving SSA benefits as a child through a parent.

Social Security benefits for children are the same whether through the retirement, survivors or disability programs. Benefits paid to family members through your work record do not lower the amount of your own benefit.