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Q&A from Social Security

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Alice Moses-Turner  

Question:

What is the earliest age that I can apply for Social Security retirement benefits?

Answer:

If you want benefits to begin at age 62 — the earliest age you can receive reduced retirement benefits, you must be at least 61 years and 9 months of age to apply.  Keep in mind your benefits will be reduced so evaluate your options carefully before you decide when to retire,  Even if you are not ready to retire, you should still sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.  You can do both online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.

 

Question:

Can I delay my retirement benefits and receive benefits as a spouse only?  How does that affect me?

Answer:

It depends on your age.  If you are full retirement age or older when you first apply, and your spouse is receiving Social Security benefits, you can choose to file and receive benefits on just your spouse’s Social Security record.  This way, you could delay filing for benefits on your own record in order to receive delayed retirement credits.

By filing only for benefits as a spouse, you may receive a higher retirement benefit on your own record later based on the effect of delayed retirement credits.  You can earn delayed retirement credits up to age 70 as long as you do not collect your own benefits.

Since the rules vary depending on the situation, you should talk to a Social Security representative about the options available to you.  To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

 

Question:

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

 

Answer:

The SSI program provides monthly payments to people with limited income and financial resources who are age 65 or older, blind or disabled.  In 2010, the maximum federal SSI payment is $674 a month for an individual and $1,011 a month for an eligible couple.  This amount may be reduced if you have other income.

To get SSI, your financial resources (savings and assets you own) cannot exceed $2,000 ($3,000 if married).  If you are married and only one person is eligible, a portion of your spouse’s income may be counted.  You can be eligible for SSI even if you have never worked in employment covered under Social Security.

 

Question:

Does Social Security provide special services or information for people who are blind or visually impaired?

Answer:

Yes.  Social Security offers a number of services and products specifically designed for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Special Notice Option

If you are blind or visually impaired, you can choose to receive notices and other information from Social Security in ways that may be more convenient for you.  To find out more about this service, go to our page, If You Are Blind Or Visually Impaired—Your Choices For Receiving Information from Social Security, at www.socialsecurity.gov/notices.

In addition, if you have a question about a Social Security notice you receive, you may call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or call or visit your local Social Security office and ask us to read it to you.

 

Public Information Materials

Many of our publications, such as brochures and fact sheets, are available in Braille, audiocassette tapes, compact disks, or in enlarged print.  Our publication, If You Are Blind Or Have Low Vision—How We Can Help, and other publications in alternative formats can be obtained by calling, toll-free, 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

For more information, see our page Public Information Materials in Alternative Media at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/alt-pubs.html.

 Alice Moses-Turner is the Social Security District Manager in Gainesville.