Q: Who decides whether I can get disability benefits?
A: First, Social Security will review your application to make sure you meet the basic eligibility requirements for disability benefits. We will check whether you worked enough years to qualify. Also, we will evaluate any current work.
If you meet these requirements, we will send your application to the Disability Determination Services office. This state agency evaluates your medical condition and makes the disability decision for us. Doctors and disability specialists in the state agency ask your doctors for information about your condition. They consider all the facts in your case. They use the medical evidence from your doctors and hospitals, clinics, or institutions where you have been treated and all other information. Learn more about disability benefits atwww.socialsecurity.gov/disability.
Q: Where can I go to find general information about Medicare benefits?
A: Social Security determines whether people are entitled to Medicare benefits, but the program is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). You can visit CMS's Medicare website at www.medicare.gov, or call them at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Q: Why doesn't my estimate using the Retirement Estimator take into account my work as a teacher, a job I held for 20 years?
A: If you work for a state or local government agency - including a school system, college, or university - your earnings may not be covered by Social Security. If you are covered only by your state or local pension plan and you don't pay Social Security taxes, your earnings won't be shown on your Social Security record. (Your record will show your Medicare wages if you pay into that program.) For information on how your pension from noncovered state or local employment may affect the amount of your Social Security benefit, you can visit www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/wep-chart.htm.
Q: I have never worked but my spouse has. What will my benefits be?
A: As a spouse, you may be entitled to one-half of a retired worker's benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. If you want to get a Social Security retirement benefit as early as age 62, the amount of your benefit is reduced. The amount of reduction depends on when you will reach full retirement age.
Q: Can I receive Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits at the same time?
A: You may be able to receive SSI benefits in addition to monthly Social Security benefits if your Social Security benefit amount is low enough for you to qualify. Whether you can get SSI benefits depends on your income and resources (the things you own). Social Security benefits you receive can make a difference in SSI eligibility and the amount you may be entitled to. You can find out more about the SSI program by going to www.socialsecurity.gov.
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Source: The Ledger, "Social Security: Doctors Review Disability Applications", April 25, 2012