Q. What type of information will I need to provide if I'd like to apply online for Social Security retirement benefits?
A. Whether you apply for retirement benefits online, by phone or in an office, we suggest that you have the following information at hand when you do it--it will make completing the application easier for you.
• Your birthdate, place of birth and Social Security number.
• Your bank account number and your bank's routing number, for direct deposit.
• The amount of money you earned last year and this year. If you are applying for benefits in the months of September through December, you may also need to provide an estimate of what you expect to earn next year if you plan to continue working.
• The name and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year.
• The beginning and ending dates of any active military service you had prior to 1968.
• The name, Social Security number and date of birth of your current and any former spouses.
Depending on your situation, you may need to provide additional documentation with your application. We'll give you instructions on how to mail or bring it to us. To get started, visit our Retirement Planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2.
Q. If I get approved, how much will I receive in Supplemental Security Income benefits?
A. The amount of your SSI benefit depends, in part, on the amount of other income you have. For 2014, the basic, maximum federal SSI payment is $721 per month for an individual and $1,082 per month for a couple. However, some states add money to the basic payment. Other monthly income you have would begin to reduce the basic SSI payment. Other things, such as where you live and who you live with, can affect your payment amount. Learn more about SSI by reading SSI publications at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Enter "SSI" in the search box.
Gregory Holmes is district manager for Social Security in Chattanooga.