February 1, 2012

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY Davenport, Iowa Office

By Karen Cole
Social Security District Manager
Davenport, Iowa


You probably already know that there was an increase in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly payments at the beginning of the year. If you receive monthly Social Security or SSI payments, you received a 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment beginning with your payment for the month of January 2012.

For people who receive Social Security retirement benefits, there’s more good news. In addition to receiving a little more each month, you may now earn more income
without offsetting your benefits because the “earnings test” numbers also have gone up.

If you have reached your full retirement age (age 66 for anyone born between 1943 and 1954), the earnings test does not apply and you may earn as much money as you can without any effect on your benefits. However, if you are younger than full retirement age, collecting benefits and still working, we do offset some of your benefit amount after a certain earnings limit is met. For people under full retirement age in 2012, the annual exempt amount is $14,640, and if you do reach that limit, we withhold $1 for every $2 above that limit from your monthly benefit amount. For people who retired early, continue working and will obtain full retirement age in 2012, the annual exempt amount is $38,880 and we will withhold $1 for every $3 you earn over the limit from your monthly benefits.

You can learn more about the earnings test and how benefits may be reduced by visiting our website, www.socialsecurity.gov, and searching on the topic “earnings test.” Find out what your full retirement age is at our Retirement Age page, www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ageincrease.htm

You also may want to read our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits. It’s available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10069.html.




We adopted a baby girl overseas and brought her home with us to the United States. We need to get a Social Security number for her. What do we do?


In general, to apply for a Social Security number for your child you must:
• Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5) for your child, which you can find online at www.socialsecurity.gov
• Show us documents proving your child’s:
o U.S. citizenship or immigration status
o Adoption
o Age
o Identity
• Show us a document proving your identity
• Show us evidence that establishes your relationship to the child if your name is not listed as the parent on the child’s evidence of age. The adoption decree or the amended U.S. birth certificate will suffice.

You can take your application and original documents to your local Social Security office, or you can mail them to us. All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. If you do not yet have proof of your child’s citizenship, we can assign a number based on documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security upon the child’s arrival in the United States. When you do receive documentation of your child’s citizenship, you can bring it to us, and we will update your child’s record. We will mail your child’s number and card as soon as we have verified your documents with the issuing offices.



How long do I need to work to become eligible for retirement benefits?


Everyone born in 1929 or later needs 40 Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement benefits. You can earn up to four credits per year, so you will need at least 10 years to become eligible for retirement benefits. During your working years, earnings covered by Social Security are posted to your Social Security record. You earn credits based on those earnings. If you become disabled or die before age 62, the number of credits needed depends on your age at the time you die or become disabled. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov.


I have children at home and I plan to retire next fall. Will my children be eligible for monthly Social Security payments after I retire?


A child (biological, legally adopted, or dependent stepchild or grandchild) may potentially be eligible. Monthly Social Security payments may be made to your children if they are:
• Unmarried and under age 18
• Age 19 if still in high school
• Age 18 or over, who became severely disabled before age 22 and continue to be disabled

For more information, read Benefits For Children at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10085.html.