Q: Ms. W writes: "My dad passed away in June of this year at age 84 and he was drawing Social Security. My mom is 81 and receives Social Security on her own record. Her benefit amount was more than my dad's. They were married for 64 years, so is she not entitled at least a partial amount of his Social Security?"
A: For a widow to be eligible for benefits from her deceased spouse she must meet the following requirements:
1. Be the widow of a spouse who was fully insured;
2. Have attained age 60 or 50-59 and disabled;
3. Be unmarried, unless the marriage took place after age 60;
4. Have filed an application for widow benefits; and
5. Not be entitled to a retirement insurance benefit that equals or exceeds the deceased spouse full benefit amount or that equals the deceased spouse benefit amount.
In addition, a survivor may be eligible for supplemental security income. SSI provides
monthly payments to people who are 65 or older; blind; disabled; and have limited income and resources.
For more information, you may visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov and look for publications 05-10084 and 05-11000 or you may call us at 866-964-0029.
Q: "What are the four parts of Medicare?"
A: There are four parts to Medicare:
* Hospital insurance (Part A) helps pay hospital bills and some follow-up care. The taxes you paid while you were working financed this coverage, so, for most people, it's premium free.
* Medical insurance (Part B) helps pay doctors' bills and other services. You must pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B and you have the option to refuse this coverage.
* Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans generally cover many of the same benefits a Medigap policy would cover, such as extra days in the hospital after you have used the number of days Medicare covers. People with Medicare Parts A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through one of these provider organizations under Part C. There might be additional premiums required for some plans.
* Prescription drug coverage (Part D) helps for prescriptions. Anyone who has Medicare hospital insurance (Part A), medical insurance (Part B), or a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) is eligible for prescription drug coverage (Part D). Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary and you pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage.
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 email@example.com.