Social Security / Questions & Answers


General

Question:

My child, who gets Social Security, will be attending his last year of high school in the fall. He turns 19 in a few months. Do I need to fill out a form for his benefits to continue?

Answer:

Yes. You should receive a form, SSA-1372-BK, in the mail about three months before your son’s birthday. Your son needs to complete the form and take it to his school’s office for certification. Then, you need to return page two and the certified page three back to Social Security for processing. If you can’t find the form we mailed to you, you can find it online at: www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-1372.pdf. 

Question:

My spouse died recently and my neighbor said my children and I might be eligible for survivors benefits. Don’t I have to be retirement age to receive benefits?

Answer:

No. As a survivor, you can receive benefits at any age if you are caring for a child who is receiving Social Security benefits and who is under age 16. Your children are eligible for survivors benefits through Social Security up to age 19 if they are unmarried and attending elementary or secondary school full time. Keep in mind that you are still subject to the annual earnings limit if you are working. If you are not caring for minor children, you would need to wait until age 60 (age 50 if disabled) to collect survivors benefits. For more information about survivors benefits, read our publication Survivors Benefits at www.ssa.gov/pubs.

Retirement

Question:

Why doesn’t my estimate using the Retirement Estimator take into account my work as a teacher? I’ve worked for 20 years in public school systems and thought it would count. 

Answer:

If you work for a state or local government agency — including a school system, college, or university — your earnings may not be covered by Social Security. If you are covered only by your state or local pension plan and you don’t pay Social Security taxes, your earnings won’t be shown on your Social Security record. (Your record will show your Medicare wages if you pay into that program.) For information on how your pension from non-covered state or local employment may affect the amount of your Social Security benefit, visit www.ssa.gov/retire2/wep-chart.htm

Question:

I’m retired and the only income I have is a monthly withdrawal from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Are the IRA withdrawals considered “earnings?” Could they reduce my monthly Social Security benefits?

Answer:

No. We count only the wages you earn from a job or your net profit if you’re self-employed. Non-work income such as pensions, annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains, and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits. For more information, visit www.ssa.gov or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Disability

Question:

Will my Social Security disability benefit increase if my condition gets worse or I develop additional health problems?

Answer:

No. We do not base your Social Security benefit amount on the severity of your disability. The amount you are paid is based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began. If you go back to work after getting disability benefits, you may be able to get a higher benefit based on those earnings. In addition, we have incentives that allow you to work temporarily without losing your disability benefits. For more information about disability benefits, read our publications Disability Benefits and Working While Disabled — How We Can Help. Both are available online at www.ssa.gov/pubs.

Question:

Will my disability benefits be reduced if I get workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits?

Answer:

If you get either workers’ compensation or public disability benefit payments, we may reduce Social Security benefits for you and your family.

Public disability benefit payments paid under a federal, state, or local government law may affect your Social Security benefit. This includes civil service disability benefits, temporary state disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits based on disability. Disability payments from private sources, such as a private pension or insurance benefits, don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits. However, in some cases, private disability insurers may require you to apply for Social Security disability benefits before they pay you. You may want to check to find out about your private insurer’s policy.

We reduce the Social Security disability benefits you and your family get if the combined total amount, plus your workers’ compensation payment, plus any public disability payment you get, exceeds 80 percent of your average earnings before you became injured or ill.

See the publication What You Need To Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits at www.ssa.gov/pubs for more information.

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