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



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

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.


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

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:


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:

Current beneficiary information:

Beneficiaries by state:

Information about people working and paying into Social Security:

Veterans’ benefits: and

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.

Compassionate Allowances disability conditions expanded

Last week another 25 Compassionate Allowances medical conditions were added to the existing list bringing the total number of conditions to 225.

The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) initiative is a way to expedite the processing of Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s definition of disability.

To date, almost 200,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through the fast-track CAL disability process.

Compassionate Allowances is part of the Social Security and SSI disability decision process, not a separate program. For the specified conditions, a person applying for benefits will receive a medical decision faster than usual but the Social Security medical definition of disability remains the same. All the usual non-medical requirements, such as having enough work for Social Security disability or meeting SSI income and resource rules, still apply.

 The 25 new Compassionate Allowances conditions are listed in a Social Security press release reachable through the News portion of the SSA homepage at The full list of CAL conditions is here.

Does disability amount increase if health gets worse?

Q: My wife has received Social Security disability for several years because of a progressive illness. Her health recently took a turn for the worse and we were wondering if she might receive a larger benefit amount because of this.

A: Declining health will not change her Social Security disability amount. Eligibility requirements for SSA disability include having the needed amount of work and meeting a strict definition of medical disability based on inability to work.

While details are in the disability section of the Social Security website, basics of the disability definition for Social Security are that a person cannot do the work previously done, cannot perform other work due to their medical condition and must have a disability that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least a full year. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial or short-term impairments. 

Since your wife already meets this work related definition of disability, and because her current benefit amount is based on her past work history, becoming more disabled will not change her benefit amount.

Social Security administers the different, need based, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Worsening health will not change the SSI amount either but non-medical changes might. For example, changes in income, marital status or where a person lives can result in a changed SSI amount.

Even though her Social Security disability amount will not change because her health has worsened, your wife will soon receive a larger benefit amount due to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2014. 

Including your wife, more than 57 million Social Security beneficiaries will receive the 1.5 percent COLA increase with benefits received in January 2014. Increased payments to more than 8 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2013.




Read it now: the SSA 2012 Disability Statistical Report

In 2012:

  • Social Security disability benefits were paid to just over 10.1 million people.
  • In December 2012, payments to disabled beneficiaries totaled about$10.9 billion.
  • Disabled workers, as compared to other disabled family members, accounted for the largest share of disabled beneficiaries (87.5 percent).

Released today, the Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2012 ( contains a wealth of information about the Social Security disability program.

The basic topics covered in the Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2012 are:

 • beneficiaries in current-payment status

• workers’ compensation and public disability benefits

• benefits awarded, withheld, and terminated

• disabled workers who have returned to work

• outcomes of applications for disability benefits

• disabled beneficiaries receiving Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or both

At 190 pages in pdf format, there is probably more to the full report than the casual reader might be interested in but you will likely find at least parts of it that interest you. For example, the section “Beneficiaries in Current-Payment Status” has easy to understand charts showing the number of disabled beneficiaries as a percentage of state population (chart 3) and a comparison of the average monthly benefit amount to men and women for different types of disability benefits (Chart 5).

Much of the data shows national information although overall state demographic data is included with many tables. You can find state information for disabilities by overall diagnostic group and numbers by type of mental disorder.  

Do you want to learn about Social Security disability benefits but are not interested in these charts and tables? Go to the disability benefit portion of In particular, the disability planner section has answers to the usual disability questions including benefit requirements and an online application.


Social Security & SSI payment dates for 2014

The annual schedule of payment dates for Social Security benefits and the separate Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program has remained a very popular topic ever since I started these posts.

The 2014 schedule of payment dates is now available for viewing or downloading as a pdf file at

Until 1997, all routine monthly Social Security payments arrived on the same day. No more. Now they arrive on different days of the month. Back then, “check week” was a very hectic time for SSA offices and financial organizations, post offices and businesses including grocery stores.

Having multiple benefit payment dates helps spread out payment related workloads for everyone. Widespread use of direct deposit (electronic fund transfer) has also greatly reduced the number of payment problems formerly seen with paper checks.

Most people starting to receive Social Security since 1997 receive their routine benefits on one of four days throughout the month: on the third of the month and on the second, third and fourth Wednesdays of the month. What day will yours arrive?

With several exceptions, Social Security payment dates now depend on the number holder’s (NH) date of birth. You are the NH if receiving Social Security on your own work record. If receiving based on the work of someone else, that person is the NH.  

Therefore, if you receive Social Security retirement or disability through your own work, the payment date is based on your birth date. A child or spouse receiving benefits on your record will also have a payment date based on your birth date. A couple can receive Social Security payment on different days if each is receiving their own retirement.

Social Security benefits are generally paid on the second Wednesday if the number holder was born within the first 10 days of a month, the third Wednesday if born within the 11-20th days and on the fourth Wednesday if born within the 21-31st days.

Not all Social Security payment dates are birth date based. If you were receiving Social Security before May 1997, your payment date remained the third of the month. People eligible for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) generally receive SSI on the first and their Social Security on the third of the month.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) funds are usually paid on the first of a month.

As noted on the 2014 schedule of payment dates, regular payment dates for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are advanced if the usual date falls on a day when financial institutions such as banks or credit unions are closed.

One more item about payments: routine Social Security retirement, disability, and survivor benefits are paid in the following month, meaning the benefit for January arrives in February. Routine Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are for the month paid so SSI arriving in February is for February.

The 2014 calendar with Social Security and SSI payment dates is at

A link to the 2014 calendar has been added to my Areavoices homepage blogroll.