Q: A few years ago, I lost my Social Security card. Now my credit report shows that someone might be using my Social Security number. I’m afraid they might ruin my credit. What should I do?
A: Identity theft and fraud are serious problems, not just for you, but for the financial integrity of our agency. It also puts our national security at risk if someone dangerous is using your number to obtain other forms of identification. It’s against the law to use someone else’s Social Security number, give false information when applying for a number, or alter, buy, or sell Social Security cards. Keep in mind, you should never carry your Social Security card with you. If you think someone is using your Social Security number fraudulently, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) right away. You can report it at www.idtheft.gov or you can call FTC’s hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4261) TTY: (1-866-653-4261).
Q: I’m retiring early, at age 62, and I receive investment income from a rental property I own. Does investment income count as earnings?
A: No. We count only the wages you earn from a job or your net profit if you’re self-employed. Non-work income such as annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains, and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits. Most pensions will not affect your benefits. However, your benefit may be affected by government pensions earned through work on which you did not pay Social Security tax. You can retire online at www.socialsecurity.gov. For more information, call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Q: I know someone who believes it’s not a big deal to cheat a little on their Supplemental Security Income application. What can I tell them to dissuade them from giving false information?
A: Social Security not only seeks criminal charges against and imprisonment of people who give false, incomplete, or inaccurate information, we also have the authority to impose civil monetary penalties against people who commit fraud. When we find evidence that someone provided false information or withheld information that would have prevented him or her or someone else from collecting benefits, we can impose a civil monetary penalty of up to $5,000 for each occurrence. We are also authorized to impose administrative sanctions. During a sanction period, benefits stop. The sanction periods are 6 months for the first occurrence, 12 months for the second occurrence, and 24 months for each additional occurrence. You can report fraud online at http://oig.ssa.gov/report or call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
Q: I lost my Medicare card. How can I get replacement?
A: The easiest and newest way to get a replacement Medicare card is by using your my Social Security account. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount for more information on how to create an account. You also can get a replacement Medicare card by calling us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Keep your card in a safe place. You don’t want anyone getting hold of your Medicare number. They could steal your identity.