The future can be uncertain. However, Social Security’s new Advance Designation program can help put you in control of your benefits if a time comes when you need a representative payee to help manage your money. Advance Designation enables you to identify up to three people, in priority order, whom you would like to serve as your potential representative payee.
The following people may choose an Advance Designation:
Adults applying for benefits who do not have a representative payee.
Adult beneficiaries or recipients who do not have a representative payee.
Emancipated minors applying for benefits who do not have a representative payee.
Emancipated minor beneficiaries or recipients who do not have a representative payee.
If you fall into one of the above categories, you may provide and update Advance Designation information when you:
File a claim for benefits online.
Use the application available in your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.
Call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
You may also change your Advance Designation(s), including the priority order, at any time while you are still capable of making your own decisions. In the event that you can no longer make your own decisions, you and your family will have peace of mind knowing you already chose someone you trust to manage your benefits.
Celebrating and creating independence with Social Security
On July 4, we celebrate our nation’s independence. For nearly 85 years, our programs have helped provide financial independence. We continue to make it easier for you to access our programs and benefits. Today, applying online is a convenient way to apply for benefits.
You can go online to apply for:
Retirement or Spouse’s Benefits – You must be at least 61 years and 9 months in age and want your benefits to start in no more than four months. Apply at www.ssa.gov/retireonline.
Disability – Apply for disability at www.ssa.gov/disabilityonline. You can use the online application to apply for disability benefits if you:
Are age 18 or older.
Are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record.
Are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
Have not been denied disability benefits in the last 60 days. If your application was recently denied, our Internet Appeal application is a starting point to request a review of the determination we made at www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/appeal.html.
Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs – Some people need assistance with the cost of medications. Apply for Extra Help at www.ssa.gov/i1020.
Medicare – Medicare is federal health insurance for people 65 or older, some younger people with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease. If you are not already receiving benefits, you should apply within three months of turning age 65 at www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – SSI is a federal income program funded by general tax revenues, and it is designed to help aged, blind, and people with disabilities who have little or no income. You may be able to apply online if you meet certain requirements. See if you can apply online for SSI at www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi.
Applying for Medicare online
You can apply for Medicare online even if you are not ready to start your retirement benefits. Applying online can take less than 10 minutes. There are no forms to sign and we usually require no documentation. We’ll process your application and contact you if we need more information.
Visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare to apply for Medicare and find other important information. If you’re eligible for Medicare at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after that birthday.
Some Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. To qualify for Extra Help, a person must be receiving Medicare, have limited resources and income, and reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Read www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10508.pdf for more information on Extra Help.
Medicare also offers many online services where you can find out:
Where do I find forms for filing a Medicare appeal? www.medicare.gov/claims-appeals/how-do-i-file-an-appeal
Where do I let someone speak with Medicare on my behalf? www.medicare.gov/claims-appeals/file-an-appeal/can-someone-file-an-appeal-for-me.
What do Medicare health and prescription drug plans in my area cost, and what services do they offer? www.medicare.gov/plan-compare
What does Medicare cover? www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers
Which doctors, health care providers, and suppliers participate in Medicare? www.medicare.gov/forms-help-resources/find-compare-doctors-hospitals-other-providers
Where can I find out more about a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) and enroll? www.medicare.gov/drug-coverage-part-d/how-to-get-prescription-drug-coverage
Where can I find a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy in my area? www.medicare.gov/medigap-supplemental-insurance-plans
Share these helpful resources with someone you care about today.
Coronavirus-related Medicare scam alert
Since older Americans are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to remind Medicare beneficiaries to be vigilant and take precautions to avoid falling victim to healthcare fraud during this pandemic. We’re warning Medicare beneficiaries that scammers may try to use this pandemic to steal their Medicare number, banking information, or other personal data.
Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of the most vulnerable people during times of uncertainty and change. You must protect yourself by making sure you only give your Medicare number to your doctor, pharmacist, hospital, health insurer, or other trusted healthcare provider.
If someone calls you on the phone, saying they’re from Medicare, and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information – just hang up. Medicare representatives will never:
Call beneficiaries to ask for or to “verify” Medicare numbers.
Call to sell you anything.
Promise you things if you give them a Medicare number.
Visit you at your home.
Call you to enroll you in a Medicare program over the phone, unless you called us first.
Medicare cards no longer have Social Security numbers on them to reduce fraud and protect beneficiaries from identity theft. Even with this change, you should guard your Medicare card like you would a credit card. Be sure to check your Medicare claim summaries for errors and questionable bills.
If you suspect Medicare fraud, please report it by calling Medicare’s toll-free customer service center at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit Medicare online at www.medicare.gov/forms-help-resources/help-fight-medicare-fraud.
Please help inform others by sharing this message with family and friends.
Important update to my Social Security’s Representative Payee Portal
Millions of Americans who get monthly Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits need help managing their money and may need a representative payee. A representative payee is a person or an organization we appoint to receive the Social Security or SSI benefits for beneficiaries who can’t manage or direct the management of their benefits.
Representative payees must know the beneficiary’s needs to decide the best use of benefits for care and well-being. To help with this responsibility, representative payees can now get, save, email, and print a benefit verification letter for the person they represent using their own my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. There is no need to visit or call a field office.
Many representative payees are also responsible for completing an annual form to account for the benefit payments received. To complete this process, representative payees can either fill out the form and return it to Social Security or conveniently go online at www.ssa.gov/myaccount/rep-payee.html to file the report. It is important to know that a state Protection and Advocacy agency may contact the representative payee to review the receipts and records of income and expenses.
Visit www.ssa.gov/payee if you have questions about Representative Payees.
Question: How do I earn Social Security credits and how many do I need to qualify for benefits?
Answer: We use your total yearly earnings to figure your Social Security credits. The amount needed for a credit in 2020 is $1,410. You can earn a maximum of four credits for any year. The amount needed to earn one credit usually increases each year when average wages increase.
You must earn a certain number of credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefit application. No one needs more than 40 credits for any Social Security benefit. You can read more about credits in How You Earn Credits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Question: Do members of Congress have to pay into Social Security?
Answer: Yes, they do. Members of Congress, the president and vice president, federal judges, and most political appointees have paid taxes into the Social Security program since January 1984. They pay into the system just like everyone else, no matter how long they have been in office. Learn more about Social Security benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Question: I’m trying to decide when to retire. Can Social Security help?
Answer: The best place to start is with a visit to the online Social Security Statement. The Statement provides you with estimates of benefits for you and your family as well as your earnings record and information you should consider about retirement and retirement planning. It is easy to access your statement online by creating a my Social Security account. To create an account, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. The “right” time to retire is different for everyone and depends on your individual situation. To help you make your own decision, we offer a fact sheet, When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits, that highlights some of the factors to consider. Find this publication at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10147.html.
Question: I’m planning to retire next year. I served in the Navy back in the 1970s and need to make sure I get credit for my military service. What do I need to do?
Answer: You don’t need to do anything to apply for the special credit for your military service — it is added automatically. For service between 1957 and 1967, we will add the extra credits to your record at the time you apply for Social Security benefits. For service between 1968 and 2001, those extra military service credits have already been added to your record. So you can rest assured that we have you covered. Read our online publication, Military Service and Social Security, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10017.html. Then when the time comes to apply for retirement, you can do it conveniently and easily at www.socialsecurity.gov/retireonline.
Question: My aunt became mentally disabled as a result of a car accident. Does Social Security have a special program for people who are obviously physically or mentally disabled?
Answer: Social Security is committed to providing benefits quickly to applicants who are severely disabled. Through our Compassionate Allowances program, we can quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that qualify, based on minimal objective medical information, and that allow us to make payments much sooner than the usual review process allows. Compassionate Allowances is not a separate program from the Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. People who don’t meet the Compassionate Allowances criteria will still have their medical conditions reviewed by Social Security. Learn more about our Compassionate Allowances at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.
Question: My uncle states that he is considered to be 70 percent disabled through the VA. Does Social Security rate my disability on a percentage scale?
Answer: Social Security does not rate individuals on a percentage scale for disability benefits. For Social Security purposes, a disability is defined as:
A medical condition(s) that must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or ends in death; and
The condition must prevent you from performing substantial work.
For more information regarding disability benefits, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/disability.
Supplemental Security Income
Question: My grandfather, who is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), will be coming to live with me. Does he have to report the move to Social Security?
Answer: Yes. An SSI beneficiary must report any change in living arrangements before the 10th day of the following month. If you do not report the change, your grandfather could receive an incorrect payment and have to pay it back, or he may not receive all the money that he is due. Failure to report a change to us could result in the deduction of a penalty from his SSI benefits. Your grandfather also needs to report the new address to us to receive mail from us. You can report the change by mail or phone at any Social Security office or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You can get more information by reading Understanding SSI at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi.
Question: I moved in with my parents until I get back on my feet. Why did my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment decrease?
Answer: If you receive SSI, your living arrangements can affect your monthly payment. When you live in another person’s home and do not pay your fair share of the living expenses, this is counted as “in-kind” income and can reduce your SSI payment. You must report any changes in your living arrangement to Social Security within 10 days of the change. When reporting a change in living arrangement, you need to tell us your address, who you live with, and what you contribute toward the household bills and expenses. You also need to report if you move into a private or public hospital or nursing home, an institution run by the government, jail, another person’s home, or a new place of your own. Report changes in your living arrangement at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Learn more about SSI and the things you need to report at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi.
Question: Is it true I can save about $5,000 per year if I qualify for Social Security’s Extra Help with the Medicare prescription drug program?
Answer: Yes. If your income and resources meet the requirements, you can save about $5,000 in prescription costs each year. Resource limits for 2020 are $14,610 (or $29,160 if you are married and living with your spouse). Income limits are $19,140 (or $25,860 if you are married and living with your spouse). If your income or resources are just a bit higher, you might be eligible for some help with prescription drug costs. To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.
Question: I applied for Medicare benefits last week. How can I check the status of my application?
Answer: You can check the application status online with your personal my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/signin, but you must wait five days from the date you originally filed. If you are unable to check your status online, call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Betsy Buchheit is the Social Security district manager in Alton.