Social Security column
By Karyl Richson
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in
Milwaukee, WI


Are you looking to replace your Social Security card just because you don’t have it? Then rest assured: you really don’t need to
replace it. What’s most important is that you remember your Social Security number.
Remember, during your formal education, when you used to memorize passages from a book, or answers for a test? In the same
way, you should memorize your Social Security number. Knowing your Social Security number is important when it comes to work,
taxes, banking, and other types of business. Treat your number as confidential information and keep it protected. Memorizing your
number means you don’t need to carry your Social Security card with you unless you need to show it to your employer. Keep it in a
safe place with your other important papers.
If you really do need to get a replacement card, it’s easy to apply for a new one. Simply complete an Application for a Social Security
Card (Form SS-5) and show us original documents proving your U.S. citizenship or immigration status, age, and identity. The
application includes examples of documents you may need; you can find the application at
Then, take or mail your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office. We will mail your Social Security
card to you.
If your card is lost or stolen, you can apply for a replacement for free. However, with some exceptions, you are limited to three
replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime.
Learn more at  
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Let the shopping season begin!

The day after Thanksgiving has virtually become a holiday of its own. “Black Friday” is the busiest shopping day of the year, with
people lining up at midnight for door-busting deals as they begin the busy holiday shopping season.

And the Monday after that has become a virtual holiday, so to speak. “Cyber Monday” is the day web-savvy people search for deals
on the Internet.

But there is more than one way to find value on the Internet. For example, Social Security offers many online services to the general
public — and they are free! Not only that, but doing business online with Social Security will save you time and money. And it’s so
easy to do. Here are some of the most popular services you’ll find at

1.        The online Social Security Statement is a hot new service that is a big hit with the millions of people who’ve used it since its
launch last May. Your online Statement provides you with a record of your past earnings, and it uses those earnings along with
projected earnings for future years to give you accurate estimates of future Social Security benefits. Get your Statement at

2.        The Retirement Estimator is an easy way to get an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefits. Just
key in some basic information and the Estimator will use information on your Social Security record, along with what you input, to
give you a benefit estimate on the spot. You even can experiment with different scenarios, such as changing your future earnings
and retirement date. Check it out in English at or in Spanish at

3.        The online Retirement Application is the most convenient way to apply for Social Security retirement benefits. You can apply
from the comfort of your home — it’s fast, easy, and secure. It’s so easy, in fact, that it can take you as little as 15 minutes to apply
online. In most cases, after your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no
documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any further information is needed. When
you’re ready to retire, apply at

4.        Business Services Online is our one-stop shop for small business owners. The site allows organizations and authorized
individuals to conduct business with and submit confidential information to Social Security. Employers can use it to file W-2s for
their employees the fast, convenient, and paperless way — online. Visit Business Services Online at
In the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Social Security’s online services continuously receive the highest ratings in both the
public and private sectors, year after year.

To learn more about all you can do on Cyber Monday, or any day, visit

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November 11 is more than just a national holiday; Veterans Day is a time to honor the men and women who risk their lives to
protect our freedom. We at Social Security ask you to join us in saluting the men and women of the armed forces. Be sure to say
“thank you” to a veteran on this important day.

For those who return home with injuries, it will be our turn to help them. If you know any wounded veterans, please let them know
about Social Security’s Wounded Warriors website. You can find it at

The Wounded Warriors website answers a number of commonly asked questions, and shares other useful information about
disability benefits, including how veterans can receive expedited processing of disability claims. It is important to note that benefits
available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate

The expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after
October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.
Even active duty military who continue to receive pay while in a hospital or on medical leave should consider applying for disability
benefits if they are unable to work due to a disabling condition. Active duty status and receipt of military pay does not necessarily
prevent payment of Social Security disability benefits. Receipt of military payments should never stop someone from applying for
disability benefits from Social Security.
A person cannot receive Social Security disability benefits while engaging in substantial work for pay or profit. However, the work
activity is the controlling factor and not the amount of pay the person receives or military duty status.

Learn more by visiting

We at Social Security thank all veterans and members of the armed services for all that they do — not only on Veterans Day, but
every day of the year.

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Kids are back in school, and in the breezy afternoons, you can find them raking leaves, or jumping in them. It’s that time of year.  
Soon, on the way to Thanksgiving dinner, children may be singing in the back seats of cars: Over the river and through the woods to
Grandmother’s house we go …

Did you know that the original song had children in a horse-drawn sleigh on their way to Grandfather’s house?

A lot has changed since those days. Take the Internet, for example. A generation ago, no one would have considered mapping out
directions on the web, or ordering a package online, delivered directly to the destination. No one would have imagined doing
business with Social Security with a computer.

This Thanksgiving Day, after you’ve enjoyed your feast and exhausted conversation, why not show Grandma and Grandpa how
easily they can use to avoid unneeded trips to a Social Security office.

For starters, you can take them to the online Retirement Estimator, a tool that helps them figure out how much they may get in
monthly benefits depending on when they retire. It’s available at
Or tell them about the hot new service everyone is talking about: the new online Social Security Statement. It provides a record of
past earnings, along with projected earnings for future years to give an estimate of future Social Security benefits. It’s available at

You also can show them our library of online publications containing all the information they need to know about an array of Social
Security, retirement, and Medicare subjects. You can see our publications at If they were thinking
about retirement, you may want to show them just how knowledgeable you are by suggesting they read the publication, When To
Start Receiving Retirement Benefits, at

And if they’re ready to retire, take them to, where they can apply online for retirement benefits in
as little as 15 minutes — that may be less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee and slice a pumpkin pie. Once they click the
“submit” button, they’re done. (And so are you.)

As you’re preparing to go over the river, through the woods, or across town to visit family this Thanksgiving Day, consider inviting to the gathering.

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Hunting season is open. But rather than hunting for game, may we recommend setting your sights for the Part D Medicare
prescription drug plan that’s best for you? You’ll have more time than usual this year, because open season is lasting longer than

If you currently are enrolled in Medicare and are considering changes to your Medicare Part D plan, act now. The “open season”
runs from October 15 to December 7.
The Medicare Part D prescription drug program is available to all Medicare beneficiaries to help with the cost of medications.
Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage.
While all Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the prescription drug program, some people with limited income and resources
also are eligible for Extra Help to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The Extra Help is
estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year. Many people qualify for these big savings and don’t even know it.
To figure out whether you are eligible for the Extra Help, Social Security needs to know your income and the value of any savings,
investments, and real estate (other than the home you live in). To qualify, you must be receiving Medicare and have:
•        Income limited to $16,755 for an individual or $22,695 for a married couple living together. Even if your annual income is
higher, you still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. Some
examples where your income may be higher include if you or your spouse:
     —Support other family members who live with you;
     —Have earnings from work; or
     —Live in Alaska or Hawaii; and
•        Resources limited to $13,070 for an individual or $26,120 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things
as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. We do not count your house or car as resources.

You can complete an easy-to-use online application for Extra Help at Click on Medicare on the top right
side of the page. Then click on “Get Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs.” To apply by phone or have an
application mailed to you, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the Application for Extra Help
with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020). Or go to your nearest Social Security office.
And if you would like more information about the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, visit or call 1-800-
MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).
So this open season, hunt for something that could put an extra $4,000 in your pocket — bag the best Medicare prescription drug
plan for you and see if you qualify for the Extra Help through Social Security. That’s a trophy worth displaying in your den.

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I applied for a Social Security card for my baby at the hospital, but the card came back with a misspelled name. What should I do?
Find at least two original documents proving your child’s U.S. citizenship and identity, as well as one proof of your identity as the
parent. Then go to your local Social Security office or card center to ask for a corrected card.
The documents you show us must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or
notarized copies of documents. To find out more, visit

What are some of the documents Social Security will accept as proof of identity for a child?
While you can use a birth certificate to prove age or citizenship, you cannot use it as proof of identity.  For identity, we prefer to see
the child’s U.S. passport. If you don’t have a passport, we may accept the child’s:
•        Adoption decree;
•        Doctor, clinic, or hospital record;
•        Religious record (e.g., baptismal record);
•        Daycare center or school record; or
•        School identification card.
We generally can accept a non-photo identity document if it has enough information to identify the child (such as the child’s name
and age, date of birth and parents’ names).  All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We
cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. To find out more, visit


What is the earliest age that I can apply for my Social Security retirement benefits?
The earliest age to receive retirement benefits is 62, but you can apply up to three months beforehand.  If you retire at age 62 today,
your benefit would be about 25 percent lower than what it would be if you waited until you reach full retirement age.
Even if you are not ready to retire, you still should sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday. You can do both
online at

Can I delay my retirement benefits and receive benefits as a spouse only? How does that work?
It depends on your age. If you are between full retirement age and age 70 and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you
can apply for retirement benefits and request the payments be suspended. Then, you can choose to receive benefits on your
spouse’s Social Security record. 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, because you earned delayed retirement credits.


What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
SSI provides monthly income to people 65 or older, blind or disabled, who also have limited income and financial resources. To be
eligible, an individual also must be a U.S. citizen and resident of the United States or a noncitizen lawfully admitted for permanent
residence. There are, however, some noncitizens granted a special immigration status who are eligible. To get SSI, an individual’s
financial resources (savings and assets) cannot be more than $2,000 ($3,000, if married).  For more information, read our
publications, Supplemental Security Income or Understanding Supplemental Security Income. Both are available at

Are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefts subject to federal income tax?
No. SSI payments are not subject to federal taxes. If you get SSI, you will not receive an annual form SSA-1099 from Social Security.  
However, your Social Security benefits may be subject to income tax. Learn more at


Do disabled children qualify for disability benefits?
There are two Social Security disability programs that provide benefits for disabled children. Under the Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) program, a child from birth to age 18 may receive monthly payments based on disability or blindness if:
—The child has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets the definition of disability for children; and
—The income and resources of the parents and the child are within the allowed limits.

Under Social Security, an adult child (a person age 18 or older) may receive monthly benefits based on disability or blindness if:
—The adult child has an impairment or combination of impairments that meet the definition of disability for adults;
—The disability began before age 22; and
—A parent of the adult child worked long enough to be insured under Social Security and is receiving retirement or disability
benefits, or is deceased.

Under both of these programs, the child must not be doing any substantial work. The child also must have a medical condition that
is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Learn more at  

Does Social Security provide special services or information for people who are blind or visually impaired?
Yes.  Social Security offers a number of services and products specifically designed for people who are blind or visually impaired.  
For example, we make all our publications available in multiple formats including Braille, audio cassette tapes, compact disks or
enlarged print. Also, most of our publications are available online in audio format.
To get any of these products in alternative formats, contact us by:
•        Going online to;
•        Calling us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY, 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday;
•        Contacting your local Social Security office;
•        Contacting your U.S. Embassy or Consulate, if you live outside the United States; or
•        Mailing, calling, or faxing your request to:
Social Security Administration, Braille Services Branch
6401 Security Boulevard, L1141 West Low Rise
Baltimore, MD 21235
Phone: 410-965-6414 or 410-965-6407 (TTY, 1-800-325-0778)
Fax: 410-965-6413


I need to make changes to my Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. When can I do that?

Open season for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage runs from October 15 to December 7. The Medicare Part D
prescription drug program is available to all Medicare beneficiaries. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary and
participants pay an additional monthly premium.
While you are looking at changing your plan, you might want to revisit the Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug
Plan Costs. If you have limited income and resources, you also may be eligible for Extra Help to pay monthly premiums, annual
deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year. To find out more, go to For more information about the Medicare Part D prescription drug program itself, visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).

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