August 31, 2010


by Cyndi Hagen
Social Security Assistant District Manager, Davenport Iowa


Requesting a review of a decision made on your Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability application is now as easy as surfing the web. To file an appeal online, simply visit the online services page at Then select the “Appeal a decision” link and follow the simple instructions.

Under the paper process, you need to complete a number of forms, and then mail or take them into the Social Security office for processing. The new iAppeals application has simplified the process to two easy steps — with no paper forms required. In addition, we can begin to process your appeal right away.

When Social Security receives your electronic request, we will take another look at our decision about whether you are disabled under Social Security law. Social Security will send you the outcome in writing.

If for some reason you are not able to complete an appeal online, call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Tell a representative you would like to appeal the decision on your case.

However you request your appeal, Social Security carefully considers all the information in your case before making a decision about your eligibility or benefit amount.

To learn more about how Social Security appeals work, read our online publication, The Appeals Process, available at To file your appeal online, go to



I can’t find my Social Security card. How can I get a new one?

First, consider whether you really need a new card. You need to apply for a replacement Social Security card only if you don’t know your Social Security number or, if you need to show your card to a new employer. If you decide that you do need a card, you can replace it for free in three easy steps.
Step 1: Complete an Application For a Social Security Card (Form SS-5)
Step 2: Show us documents proving your:
• Identity; and
• U.S. citizenship or immigration status.
Step 3: Take your completed application and original documents to your local Social Security office or your local Social Security Card Center.
You’ll receive your replacement card in about 10 to 15 days. You can find all the information you need, including what documents we will need to review, at


How can I calculate my own retirement benefit estimate?

We suggest you use our Retirement Estimator at Our Retirement Estimator produces estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record, so it’s a personalized, instant picture of your future estimated benefit. Also, you can use it to test different retirement scenarios based on what age you decide to start benefits. For example, you can find out your estimated monthly payments if you retire at age 62 or at age 70. You also can use our benefit calculators at and use the earnings shown on your annual Social Security Statement to calculate estimates.

How do I earn a Social Security credit?

A “Social Security credit” (sometimes referred to as a “quarter of coverage”) is the measure of a person’s work under the Social Security program. The amount needed for a credit increases automatically each year as average wages increase. For 2010, workers receive one credit for each $1,120 of earnings. For 2009, the amount of earnings for one credit was $1,090. A worker can receive a maximum of four credits for any year. Generally, you need 40 credits to be eligible for retirement benefits. Learn more at

What information do I need to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Here are some of the things we will ask for when you apply for SSI. Even if you do not have all of the things listed below, apply anyway. The people in the Social Security office can help you get whatever you need. You will need:
• Your Social Security number;
• Your birth certificate or other proof of your age;
• Information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name;
• Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, burial fund records, and other information about your income and the things you own;
• The names, addresses and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals, and clinics that you have been to, if you are applying for SSI because you are disabled or blind; and
• Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status.
If you have a bank or financial institution account, you should have the account number available so we can have your benefits deposited directly into your account. Learn more about SSI by reading our online publication, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at

My application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) was recently denied. Can I appeal the decision?

If you disagree with a decision made on your claim, you can
appeal it. The steps you can take are explained in our online
publication, Your Right To Question A Decision Made On
Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Claim, available at Also, you have the right to be represented by an attorney or other qualified person of your choice. Now, you can request your appeal online. Simply visit the online services page at Then select the “Appeal a decision” link and follow the simple instructions. If you would like to learn more, read our online publication Your Right To Representation at


I am applying for Extra Help with prescription drug costs. Can state agencies help with my Medicare costs?

Beginning January 1, 2010, when you file your application for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs, you also can start your application process for the Medicare Savings Programs — state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs. When you apply for Extra Help, Social Security will send information to your state unless you tell us not to on the application. Your state will contact you to help you apply for a Medicare Savings Program. Learn more about how Social Security can provide Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug costs by visiting


What is the difference between the disability application and the disability report? Do I have to complete both?

Yes, you will need to complete both when you apply for disability benefits. To receive Social Security disability benefits, you must file a disability application. A disability report provides information about your current physical or mental condition and we need this to process your disability application. You should complete a disability application, a disability report, and an authorization to release medical records to file a claim for disability benefits. To learn more, and to apply online, visit

How do I know if I have enough work to get Social Security disability benefits?

To get benefits, you must have worked long enough — and recently enough — under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year. The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. In 2010, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,120 of wages or self-employment income. When you have earned $4,480, you’ve earned your four credits for the year. The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which you earned in the last 10 years, ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. To learn more, see our Disability Planner at