Coffey: Easiest way to get benefits is online

Coffey: Easiest way to get benefits is online

March 10th, 2011 in Business Diary

Q: "What's the easiest way to apply for retirement benefits?"

A: You can apply for retirement benefits using our online retirement application at www.socialse curity.gov/retire. It's fast, easy, and secure. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any further information is needed.

Q: "Is supplemental security income taxable?"

A: No. SSI payments are not subject to federal taxes, so you will not receive an annual form SSA-1099. However, if you also receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits, those payments may be subject to income taxes. Learn more about SSI by reading the publication "What You Need To Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income" at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11011.html

Q: "How does a blind or visually

impaired person choose how Social Security communicates with them about changes or important information?"

A: If you are blind or visually impaired, you have choices for receiving information from Social Security. To sign up or change these notice options, contact us through one of the following ways:

  • Go to our web page, "If You Are Blind Or Visually Impaired - Your Choices For Receiving Information from Social Security" at www.socialsecurity.gov/notices
  • Call us toll-free at 1-877-708-1776 (TTY 1-800-325-0778)
  • Contact your local Social Security office; or contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you live outside the United States.

The fastest way to learn about and sign up for these options is at www.socialsecurity.gov/notices .

Q: "My husband doesn't have enough work to qualify for Social Security or Medicare. Can he qualify on my record?"

A: This answer applies to wives as well as husbands - even if your spouse has never worked under Social Security, your spouse at full retirement age can receive a benefit equal to one-half of your full retirement amount.

This assumes you were married at least 12 months (or 10 years if you were divorced) and that he did not pay into a government pension plan that offsets Social Security.

If he receives a pension from federal, state or local government based on work where he did not pay Social Security taxes, any benefits he receives may be offset.

Spouses cannot receive benefits on your record until you begin receiving retirement benefits, however. You can learn more by reading our online publication, "Retirement Benefits," at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10035.html

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 e-mailing him at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.