published Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Social Security: How to change your citizenship on Social Security records

By Gregory Holmes
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    Gregory Holmes, district manager for Social Security

Q. How do I change my citizenship status on Social Security's records?

A. To change your citizenship status shown in Social Security records:

• Complete an application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5), which you can find online at www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ss-5.html

• Provide documents proving your age, identity and new or revised citizenship status (We can only accept certain documents as proof of citizenship. These include your U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization, or a Certificate of Citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen, Social Security will ask to see your current immigration documents);

• Take (or mail) your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office.

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Q. I have never worked but my spouse has. What will my benefits be?

A. You can be entitled to as much as one-half of your spouse's benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. If you want to get Social Security retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age, the amount of your benefit is reduced. The amount of reduction depends on when you will reach full retirement age. For example, if your full retirement age is 66, you can get 35 percent of your spouse's unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction); if your full retirement age is 67, you can get 32.5 percent of your spouse's unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction).

The amount of your benefit increases if your entitlement begins at a later age, up to the maximum of 50 percent at full retirement age. However, if you are taking care of a child who is under age 16 or who gets Social Security disability benefits on your spouse's record, you get the full spouse's benefits, regardless of your age. Learn more about retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement.

Submit questions to local Social Security Director Gregory Holmes 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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