Q. I just started my first job and my paycheck is less than I expected. Why am I paying for retirement benefits when I have a lifetime to live before retirement?
A. Besides being required by law, you are securing your own financial future through the payment of Social Security and Medicare taxes. The taxes you pay now translate to a lifetime of protection, whether you retire or become disabled. And when you die, your family (or future family) may be able to receive survivors benefits based on your work as well. Aside from all the benefits in your own future, your Social Security and Medicare payments also help today's retirees.
Q. I'm on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and live with my two brothers in an apartment. My SSI payment is cut by one-third because the Social Security office says I don't pay enough of the household expenses. How much of the expenses must I pay in order to get the full SSI rate?
A. Under the rules of the program, you must be paying an equal share of the expenses. Because there are three of you in the household, you must pay one-third of the expenses. If you are not paying an equal share of the rent, utilities, groceries, and other household expenses, your SSI payment must be reduced.
Q. Is there a time limit on how long I can collect Social Security disability benefits?
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.html#6
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.