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Social Security: Payments can also arrive early

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Question: I usually get my benefit payment on the third of the month. But what if the third falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday? Will my payment be late?

Answer: Just the opposite. Your payment should arrive early. For example, if you usually get your payment on the third of a month, but it falls on a Saturday, we will make payments on the Friday prior to the due date. Find more information about the payment schedule for 2021 at www.ssa.gov/pubs/calendar.htm. Any time you don’t receive a payment, be sure to wait three days before calling to report it missing. To ensure that your benefits are going to the right place, create a my Social Security account. There, you can verify and manage your benefits without visiting your local office. Please visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount to create your account.

Q: I haven’t received my Social Security Statement in the mail the last few years. Will I ever get one again?

A: We currently mail Social Security Statements to workers age 60 and over who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits and do not yet have a my Social Security account. We mail the Statements three months prior to your birthday. Instead of waiting to receive a mailed Statement, we encourage people to open a my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount so they can access their Statement online, anytime.

Q: How are my retirement benefits calculated?

A: Your Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over your lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or "indexed" to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then we calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit. This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age. You may be able to estimate your benefit by using our Retirement Estimator, which offers estimates based on your Social Security earnings. You can find the Retirement Estimator at www.ssa.gov/estimator.

Q: How long does it take to complete the online application for retirement benefits?

A: It can take as little as 15 minutes to complete the online application. In most cases, once 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. There's no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. To retire online, go to www.ssa.gov/retireonline.

Q: If I go back to work, will I automatically lose my Social Security disability benefits?

A: No, Social Security has several work incentive programs to help people who want to work. You may be able to receive monthly benefits and continue your health care coverage during a trial work period. For information about Social Security’s work incentives and how they can help you return to work, you should do one of the following:

• Visit our special work site at www.ssa.gov/work.

• See the Red Book on work incentives at www.ssa.gov/redbook.

• Check out our publications at www.ssa.gov/pubs and type “work” in the search box.

For more information, visit www.ssa.gov or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Q: How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?

A: For an adult to be considered disabled, Social Security must determine that you are unable to do the work you did before and that, based on your age, education, and work experience, you are unable to adjust to any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. Also, your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death. Social Security pays for total disability only. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability (less than a year). For more information, read our publication, Disability Benefits, at www.ssa.gov/pubs.

Q: My grandmother receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. She may have to enter a nursing home to get the long-term care she needs. How does this affect her SSI benefits?

A: Moving to a nursing home could affect your grandmother’s SSI benefits, depending on the type of facility. In many cases, we have to reduce or stop SSI payments to nursing home residents, including when Medicaid covers the cost of the nursing home care. When your grandmother enters or leaves a nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital, skilled nursing facility, or any other kind of institution, you must notify Social Security right away. Learn more about SSI reporting responsibilities at www.ssa.gov/ssi. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to report a change.

Q: What is the difference between Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability?

A: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is based on prior earnings. SSDI is financed through the taxes you pay into the Social Security program. To be eligible for a SSDI benefit, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be "insured" for Social Security purposes. SSDI benefits are payable to eligible blind or disabled workers, the widow(er)s of a disabled worker, or adults disabled since childhood.

SSI disability payments are made based on financial need to adults or children who are disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements, and are otherwise eligible. SSI is a program financed through general revenues. For more information, visit www.ssa.gov.

Q: If I retire at age 62, will I be eligible for Medicare?

A: No. Medicare starts when you reach 65. If you retire at 62, you may be able to continue medical insurance coverage through your employer or purchase it from a private insurance company until you become eligible for Medicare. For more information, read Medicare at www.ssa.gov/pubs, or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Q: Is it true that if you have low income you can get help paying your Medicare premiums?

A: Yes. If your income and resources are limited, your state may be able to help with your Medicare Part B premium, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts. State rules vary on the income and resources that apply. Contact your state or local medical assistance, social services, or welfare office, or call the Medicare hotline, 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), and ask about the Medicare Savings Programs. If you have limited income and resources, you also may be able to get help paying for prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or call any Social Security office. Also, see our publication, Medicare, at www.ssa.gov/pubs/10043.html. For even more information, visit www.ssa.gov.


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