Question: My father receives Social Security retirement benefits, and I will be in charge of his estate when he dies. When that occurs, do I need to report his death to Social Security or will benefits automatically stop?
Answer: When your father dies, please notify Social Security as soon as possible. Another person, such as a spouse, may be eligible for survivors benefits based on his record. Also, we might be able to pay a one-time payment of $255 to help with funeral expenses. We suggest reading a copy of our online publication, How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10008.html.
Question: I'm getting married later this month and plan to change my name. What documents do I need to apply for a new Social Security card with my new name?
Answer: To change your name for any reason in Social Security's records, and on your Social Security card, you'll need to provide proof of your U.S. citizenship (if you have not previously established it with us) or immigration status.
You'll need to show us evidence of your legal name change by showing us documentation of your old and new names. Such documents could include a court order for a name change, marriage certificate, divorce decree, or Certificate of Naturalization.]
Finally, you'll need to show us proof of identity. All documents submitted must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.
The phone number for Social Security is 800-772-1213. The Web address is www.socialsecurity.gov.
Visit our website about your Social Security card and number at www.socialsecurity.gov/ ssnumber where you can get more information and fill out your application.
Question: Recently, I was told I shouldn't be carrying my Social Security card around. Is that true?
Answer: We encourage you to keep your Social Security card at home in a safe place. Do not carry it with you unless you are taking it to a job interview or to someone who requires it. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, and the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to safeguard your card and number. To learn more, visit our Social Security number and card page at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
Question: I just started my first job and my paycheck is less than I expected. Why am I paying for retirement benefits when I have a lifetime to live before retirement?
Answer: Besides being required by law, you are securing your own financial future through the payment of Social Security and Medicare taxes. The taxes you pay now translate to a lifetime of protection, whether you retire or become disabled. And when you die, your family (or future family) may be able to receive survivors benefits based on your work as well. Aside from all the benefits in your own future, your Social Security and Medicare payments also help today's retirees. To learn more, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Question: I have been getting Social Security disability benefits for many years. I'm about to hit my full retirement age. What will happen to my disability benefits?
Answer: When you reach "full retirement age," we will switch you from disability to retirement benefits. But you won't even notice the change because your benefit amount will stay the same. It's just that when you reach retirement age, we consider you to be a "retiree" and not a disability beneficiary.
Question: I'm on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and live with my two brothers in an apartment. My SSI payment is cut by one-third because the Social Security office says I don't pay enough of the household expenses. How much of the expenses must I pay in order to get the full SSI rate?
Answer: Under the rules of the program, you must be paying an equal share of the expenses. Because there are three of you in the household, you must pay one-third of the expenses. If you are not paying an equal share of the rent, utilities, groceries, and other household expenses, your SSI payment must be reduced.
Question: I can't find my Medicare card and I need a replacement. Do I need to come into the office?
Answer: You can get your Medicare card replaced without leaving your home. Just go online to www.socialsecurity. gov/medicarecard/ and get your new Medicare card sent to your home. Simply fill out the requested information and you'll get your new Medicare card within 30 days; it will be mailed to your address on record. If you need temporary proof of Medicare coverage, call us to request a letter and you will receive it in the mail within seven to 10 days. If you need immediate proof of your Medicare coverage, please visit your local Social Security office.
Rebecca Miller is the manager of the Social Security Administration office in Wheeling.