By Deborah Banikowski
District Manager, Syracuse
Did you know that you can apply online for Medicare, even if you are not ready to retire? We can help you make an informed decision about when to apply for benefits based on your individual and family circumstances. Applying online can take less than 10 minutes. There are no forms to sign and usually no required documentation. We’ll process your application and contact you if we need more information.
Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/medicare to begin. There, you can apply for Medicare and find other important information. If you’re eligible for Medicare at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after that birthday.
Some Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. To qualify for the Extra Help, a person must be receiving Medicare, have limited resources and income, and reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. For more information on Extra Help, read www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10525.pdf.
You may also be interested in reading these publications:
• “Apply Online for Medicare — Even if You Are Not Ready to Retire” www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10530.pdf.
• “When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits” www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10147.pdf.
Helping a friend or family member with this information can improve the quality of their life. Share these resources with someone you love today.
Q: My same-sex partner and I recently married. Will we qualify for Social Security benefits?
A: You may be eligible to apply for Social Security benefits. Many factors affect your eligibility for benefits, including how long you worked and your age. Social Security is now processing more claims in which entitlement or eligibility is affected by a same-sex relationship. We encourage you to apply for benefits right away, even if you aren’t sure you’re eligible. Applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits. You can apply safely and securely at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. Learn more about Social Security for same-sex couples by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/same-sexcouples.
Q: I am receiving Social Security retirement benefits and I recently went back to work. Do I have to pay Social Security (FICA) taxes on my income?
A: Yes. By law, your employer must withhold FICA taxes from your paycheck. Although you are retired, you do receive credit for those new earnings. Each year Social Security automatically credits the new earnings and, if your new earnings are higher than in any earlier year used to calculate your current benefit, your monthly benefit could increase. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Q: What is the benefit amount a spouse may be entitled to receive?
A: If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse’s benefits. A spouse generally receives one-half of the retired worker’s full benefit unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, the amount of the spouse’s benefit is reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before he or she reaches full retirement age. For example, based on the full retirement age of 66, if a spouse begins collecting benefits:
• At age 65, the benefit amount would be about 46 percent of the retired worker’s full benefit;
• At age 64, it would be about 42 percent;
• At age 63, 37.5 percent; and
• At age 62, 35 percent.
However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receives Social Security benefits on the same record, a spouse will get full benefits, regardless of age. Learn more by reading our Retirement publication at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10035.html.