GENERAL

Q: I’m gathering everything I’ll need to file my taxes this month. Do I have to pay taxes on Social Security benefits? Also, where can I get a replacement 1099?

A: Some people who get Social Security must pay federal income taxes on their benefits. Still, no one pays taxes on more than 85 percent of their Social Security benefits. You must pay taxes on some portion of your benefits if you file an individual federal tax return and your income exceeds $25,000. If you file a joint return, you must pay taxes if you and your spouse have combined income of more than $32,000. If you are married and file a separate return, you probably will have to pay taxes on your benefits. You can read more about tax preparation in relation to Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/taxes.htm. Social Security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor, and disability benefits. They don’t include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, which are not taxable. You can also get a replacement 1099 or 1042S when you open your own personal my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

RETIREMENT

Q: Can I delay my retirement benefits and receive benefits as a spouse only? How does that work?

A: It depends on your date of birth. If you were born on or before 01/01/1954 and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you can apply for retirement benefits on your spouse’s record as long as you are at your full retirement age. You then will earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70 as long as you do not collect benefits on your own work record. Later, when you do begin receiving benefits on your own record, those payments could very well be higher than they would have been otherwise. If your spouse is also full retirement age and does not receive benefits, your spouse will have to apply for benefits and request the payments be suspended. Then you can receive benefits on your spouse’s Social Security record. If you were born on or after 01/02/1954, and you wish to receive benefits, you must file for all benefits for which you are eligible. The Social Security Administration will determine the benefits you are eligible for and pay you accordingly. For individuals born on or after 01/02/1954, there is no longer an option to select which benefit you would like to receive, even beyond your full retirement age. Widows are an exception, as they can choose to take their deceased spouse’s benefit without filing for their own. For more information, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

DISABILITY

Q: I worked for many years before I became disabled, but I didn’t have enough recent work to receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) payments. I receive for SSI. Will I ever receive Social Security payments?

A: It depends. If you have at least 40 quarters of coverage, you can be eligible for Social Security retirement payments beginning at age 62. Additionally, if you are performing some work while you are on SSI, you may become currently insured for disability payments in the future. There are other ways in which you could become eligible for Social Security benefits, including benefits through a spouse or a divorced spouse. For more information, you may call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY:1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.

MEDICARE

Q: What can I do if my Medicare prescription drug plan says it won’t pay for a drug that my doctor prescribed for me?

A: If your Medicare prescription drug plan decides that it won’t pay for a prescription drug, it must tell you in writing why the drug isn’t covered in a letter called a “Notice of Denial of Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage.” Read the notice carefully because it will explain how to ask for an appeal. Your prescribing doctor can ask your Medicare drug plan for an expedited redetermination (first level appeal) for you, if the doctor tells the plan that waiting for a standard appeal decision may seriously harm your health. For more information, visit www.medicare.gov.

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