June 1, 2010

Your Social Security


By Christina Vital
Rock Island Social Security office


Who says you can’t teach an old dad new twists? All across the nation this Father’s Day weekend, people are telling their fathers, grandfathers, and other special men in their lives about a new “twist” in the law that may help them qualify for extra help paying for costs associated with their prescription drugs.

When you’re spending time with Dad this weekend, ask him if he can use some help paying for his prescription drugs. If so, tell him about the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and the extra help available through Social Security.

If Dad is covered by Medicare and has limited income and resources, he might be eligible for extra help to pay for his monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The extra help is worth an average of $3,900 per year.

If you’re met with a resistant, “No, I’ve looked into it before and I don’t qualify,” then let him know the law changed in January 2010. As volunteer spokesman Chubby Checker will tell you, a new “twist” in the law makes it easier than ever to qualify for the extra help.

Thanks to this new “twist” in the law, we no longer count any life insurance policy he has as a resource, and we no longer count as income any financial assistance he receives regularly from someone else to pay his household expenses like food, mortgage or rent, utilities or property taxes.

Don’t take our word for it, see Chubby Checker’s rocking message at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

To qualify, he must be receiving Medicare and:
• Have income limited to $16,245 for an individual or $21, 855 for a married couple living together. Even if his annual income is higher, he still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. Some examples in which income may be higher include if he or his wife:
—Support other family members who live with them;
—Have earnings from work; or
—Live in Alaska or Hawaii; and
• Have resources limited to $12,510 for an individual or $25,010 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds. We do not count his house or car as resources.

You can help Dad fill out an easy-to-use online application for your dad at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp. To apply by phone or have an application mailed to you, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020). Or go to the nearest Social Security office.

You and your dad can learn more about the Medicare prescription drug plans and special enrollment periods, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).

Maybe it’s been a few years since Dad did the Twist. But saving an extra $3,900 a year on prescription drugs may help put a new spring in his step.


Families of fallen military service members bear significant burdens from the loss of their loved one. Lives are changed forever. Aside from the emotional devastation, the financial hardships placed on such families can be difficult. Often, if a death occurs, a two-income household must make do with one income.

Social Security provides income for surviving families of military service members.

Monthly Social Security benefits may be paid to widows or widowers and unmarried children who are younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time). Benefits may be payable to biological and adopted children, stepchildren, grandchildren, or step grandchildren. In addition, under certain circumstances, dependent parents also may qualify.

Almost 2 million children receive Social Security survivors benefits with an average benefit payment of about $750 a month. That’s nearly one and a half billion dollars a month in survivors benefits for children. More than 4.3 million surviving spouses and parents receive survivors benefits with an average monthly payment of about 1,100. That’s more than 4.7 billion dollars a month in survivors benefits for spouses and parents.

You can apply for survivors benefits by telephone or at any Social Security office. To learn more about survivor’s benefits, read our publication, Survivors Benefits. You can find it online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10084.html or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask that a copy be mailed to you.

We at Social Security can never replace the love and life that has been lost. But we can and do honor armed forces members who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and in many cases, we’re able to help families financially. On Memorial Day and every day, Social Security holds the highest respect for all who have given their lives in defense of our nation.


I lost my Social Security card, but I remember my number and I don’t plan to change careers anytime soon. Do I really need a new card?

The only time you may need the card is when you apply for a job and your prospective employer asks to see it. If you do decide to get a new card or your old one turns up, don’t carry it with you. Keep your card somewhere safe, with your other important papers. You are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. For example, changes in marital status that might require card updates do not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

I recently noticed on my annual statement that my date of birth in Social Security’s records is wrong. How do I get that corrected?

To change the date of birth shown on our records you can take the following steps:
• Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5); and
• Show us documents proving:
• U.S. citizenship or legal noncitizenship status (if you have not previously established your citizenship status with us);
• Age; and
• Identity.
• Take (or mail) your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office.

Remember that all documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. For details on acceptable documents, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ss5doc.

What information will I need to have if I’d like to complete the online application for Social Security retirement benefits?

Although not required in all cases, we suggest that you have the following information at hand when you apply online for benefits. It will make completing the application much easier for you.
• Your date and place of birth, and your Social Security number;
• Your bank account number and your bank’s routing number, for direct deposit;
• The amount of money you earned last year and this year. If you are applying for benefits between September and December, you may also need to provide an estimate of what you will earn next year;
• The name and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year;
• The beginning and ending dates of any active military service you had prior to 1968;
• The name, Social Security number, and date of birth of your current spouse, and, if applicable, any former spouses from marriages that lasted more than 10 years or ended in death. You should also know the dates of marriage, places of marriage and the dates of divorce or death; and a copy of your Social Security Statement. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any further information is needed. To get started, www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.

I am 65 and my wife is 62 and receiving spouse’s benefits. When will she qualify for Medicare?

Most people must wait until age 65 to apply for Medicare. Some
people can get Medicare at any age. This includes people who:
• have been getting Social Security disability benefits for 24 months;
• have kidney failure and require dialysis;
• have had a kidney transplant; or
• receive disability benefits because they suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

As someone who already receives retirement benefits, your wife will be enrolled automatically for Medicare coverage when she becomes eligible at age 65. Some people choose to delay filing for Medicare. Such people can now apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov by selecting the “Retirement/ Medicare” bar in the center of the page.