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Answers to Your Most Frequent Questions about Social Security Benefits

During Financial Literacy Month we asked our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ friends what questions they had related to Social Security benefits and retirement. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we received and the answers that our partner at the Social Security Administration provided.

What is the minimum age to collect Social Security benefits?

As early as 62 years of age for reduced benefits, or unreduced benefits at your full retirement age.  Full retirement depends on your year of birth. Learn about the pros and cons of early retirement or delaying retirement.

How can I collect benefits if I have a child with a disability?

If you are the parent of a child who has a physical or mental impairment that causes severe functional limitations, your child could be eligible for Supplemental Security Income. Visit:http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/ssi.htm to learn more and complete a disability report. You can also call 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment with the SSA.

Is my spouse eligible for benefits?

A spouse could receive an amount equal to 50 percent of the amount the beneficiary receives at full retirement age, if the spouse is of full retirement age as well. If this spouse receives a pension from an employer not covered under Social Security, benefits will be reduced. You can find more information on the Government Pension Offset (PDF).

Survivor benefits, how does this work?

If you are a widow, the child or the parent of a deceased worker, you may be eligible for monthly benefits orLump-Sum Death Payment.

There is no statute of limitations on receiving survivor death benefits if you are a child, parent or surviving spouse of a deceased worker for as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.  Detailed information can also be found here information here: How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies (PDF).

What are the benefit implications of delaying retirement?

If retirement is delayed, the worker will be eligible for Delayed Retirement Credits. Delayed Retirement Credits from Social Security are an eight percent increase in the benefits for every year, after worker turns Full Retirement Age, and benefits are delayed.

If a beneficiary currently receives Social Security benefits, and he or she is not of full retirement age, up to $15,480.00 in 2014 could be earn in regular or self – employment. Social Security will deduct $1 from the benefits for each $2 earned above that limit.

If you reach full retirement age this year, the beneficiary can earn $41,400 in the months before the month full retirement age is attained. If he or she earns above the limit, Social Security will deduct $1 from these benefits for every $3 earned above the limit.


How do I apply for Medicare?

A worker is eligible for Medicare at 65 years old.  Younger workers would be eligible if receiving disability benefits (there is a 24 months waiting period).  More information is available at  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/medicare.htm

Medicare does not pay for all the costs of medical expenses. Some beneficiaries choose to enroll in Medicare supplemental insurance. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offers more information about Medigap policies (supplemental insurance).


What if I collect other benefits from the federal government?

Social Security benefits are not affected by a Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) pension.  However, a pension from The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) will reduce Social Security benefits if you apply for benefits on your Spouse’s Social Security record. More information on the Government Pension Offset is available on the Social Security Administration’s website.

My benefits seem to low, how can I have my benefits reviewed?

It is possible to be eligible for additional benefits if the beneficiary does not have any other income and has limited resources. Social Security has a toll free number 1-800-772-1213 where a representative can be requested to review a record.

I currently live outside of the United States, can I still collect benefits?

If a beneficiary has worked in the United States but now lives abroad it may be possible to collect benefits. More information on payments while overseas is on the Social Security Administration’s website. A beneficiary can also contact the U.S. embassy in the country where they reside.

More questions or concerns regarding your benefits?

Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 and speak to a representative who can review your record or who could further help answer your questions.