Q. "My neighbor said my kids, 4 and 12, might be eligible for survivors' benefits since their mother died. Are they?"
A. If their mother worked and earned the required number of Social Security credits, both you and your children may be eligible for benefits. Apply promptly for survivors benefits because benefits are generally retroactive only up to six months.
You can apply by calling Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday. For more information, read our publication Survivors Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10084.html.
Q. "I receive supplemental security income benefits. How do I notify Social Security that I have changed my address?"
A. Social Security needs your correct mailing address to send you notices and other correspondence about your benefits even if you receive your benefits by direct deposit.
An SSI recipient must report any change in living arrangements or change of address by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting a local office. If you do not notify us in a timely manner, you could end up receiving an incorrect payment and have to pay it back.
Q. "Is there a time limit on how long I can collect Social Security disability benefits?"
A. Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you remain unable to work.
Your case will be reviewed at regular intervals to make sure you still are disabled. If you still are receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, we will automatically convert them to retirement benefits. See www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10153.
Q. "How long does it take to complete the online application for retirement benefits?"
A. It can take as little as 15 minutes to complete the online application. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you're done.
There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation to mail in. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any further information is needed. There's no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. To retire online, go to www.socialsecurity.gov
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 firstname.lastname@example.org