published Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Social Security: System offers options if personal card lost

Q: I lost my Social Security card, should I get a new one?

A: If you know your Social Security number, you may not need a replacement card. You can replace your Social Security card for free if it is lost or stolen, but you are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Q: My mother receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. She may have to enter a nursing home later this year. How does this affect her SSI benefits?

A: Moving to a nursing home can affect your mother's SSI benefits, but it depends on the type of facility. In some cases, the SSI payment may be reduced or stopped. Whenever your mother enters or leaves a nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital, skilled nursing facility, or any other kind of institution, it is important that you tell Social Security. Call Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. We also provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day.

Q: I currently receive Social Security disability benefits. I now have a second serious disability. Can my monthly benefit amount be increased?

A: No. Although your Social Security disability benefit eligibility is based on having a severe disability, the benefit amount is based on the amount of your lifetime earnings before your disability began and not the number, degree, or severity of your disability. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/dibplan/dapproval2.htm

Submit questions to local Social Security Director Martin Coffey by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.

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