Q: "I received a notice from Social Security recently. It said my name and Social Security number do not match Social Security's records. What should I do?"
A: It's critical that your name and Social Security number, as shown on your Social Security card, match your employer's payroll records and your W-2 form. If they don't, here is what you need to do:
* Give your employer the correct information exactly as shown on your Social Security card or your corrected card; or
* Contact your local Social Security office (www.socialsecurity.gov/locator) or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) if your Social Security card does not show your correct name or Social Security number.
Q: "How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?"
A: If you are an adult, you must be unable to work for a year or more because of a medical condition or combination of medical impairments. Overall, we use a five-step evaluation process to decide whether you are disabled. The process considers any current work activity you are doing. It also considers your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work. To be found disabled:
* You must be unable to do work you did before you became disabled and we must decide you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition; and
* Your disability must last, or be expected to last, for at least one year or to result in death.
Social Security pays only for total disability. We do not pay benefits for partial or short-term disability. For more information, read our publication Disability Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html
Q: "I work in retirement. How much can I earn and still collect full Social Security retirement benefits?"
A: Social Security uses the formulas below, depending on your age, to determine how much you can earn before we must reduce your benefit:
If you are younger than full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2011, that limit is $14,160.
In the year you reach your full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above a different limit, but we count only earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. For 2011, this limit is $37,680.
Starting with the month you reach full retirement age, you will get your benefits with no limit on your earnings.
Find out your full retirement age at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ageincrease.htm
Get answers to your Social Security questions each Thursday from the Social Security District Director Martin Coffey. Submit questions by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN 37401-1447, or by emailing him at dflessner@ timesfreepress.com.