GENERAL

Q: I got an email that says it’s from Social Security, but I’m not so sure. They want me to reply with my Social Security number, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name for “verification.” Did it really come from Social Security?

A No. Social Security will not send you an email asking you to share your personal information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, or other private information. Beware of such scams — they’re after your information so they can use it for their own benefit. When in doubt, or if you have any questions about correspondence you receive from Social Security, contact your local Social Security office or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to see whether we really need any information from you.

RETIREMENT

Q: I want to make sure I have enough credits to receive Social Security retirement benefits when I need them. How can I get a record of my Social Security earnings?

A: The best way for you to check whether you have earned enough credits (40 total, equaling 10 years of work) is to open a free my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to review your Social Security Statement any time you want.

Once you create an account, you can:

Keep track of your earnings to make sure your benefit is calculated correctly. The amount of your payment is based on your lifetime earnings;

Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working; Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S;

Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them; and

Manage your benefits:

Change your address; and start or change your direct deposit.

Accessing my Social Security is quick, convenient, and secure, and you can do it from the comfort of your home.

DISABILITY

Q: My 15-year-old sister has been blind since birth. I think she should apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but my parents think because she’s a minor, they’re responsible for her and she won’t qualify. Who is right?

A: To qualify for SSI, an individual must meet certain income and resource limits. Since your sister is a minor, some of your parents’ income and resources will determine whether your sister is eligible for SSI. Once your sister turns 18, their income and resources won’t be considered when deciding her eligibility and payment amount. Tell your parents they can check at any Social Security office to see if your sister qualifies. To learn more, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

MEDICARE

Q: I didn’t enroll in Medicare Part B back when my Part A started a few years ago. Can I enroll now?

A: It depends. The general enrollment period for Medicare Part B, medical insurance, begins Jan. 1 and runs through March 31. Keep in mind that although there is no monthly premium for Medicare Part A, there will be a premium for your Medicare Part B. And in most cases, that premium goes up each 12-month period you were eligible for it and elected not to enroll. If you are covered by a group healthcare plan based on your employment or the employment of a spouse, you may qualify for a special enrollment. Special enrollments may be processed at any point during the year, but require proof of coverage. To find out more about Medicare, visit www.medicare.gov or www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare.

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