By Deborah Banikowski
District Manager, Syracuse
If you receive a benefit verification letter, sometimes called a “budget letter,” a “benefits letter,” a “proof of income letter,” or a “proof of award letter,” we have good news for you! A new standardized benefit verification letter is now available when you need proof of Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income or Medicare.
In addition to name, date of birth and the benefits received, the new benefit verification letter includes other identifiers to prevent misuse and fraud. This is an added benefit to you as proof of income for loans, housing assistance, mortgage and other verification purposes.
The same standardized letter is also available if you need proof that you do not receive benefits, or proof that benefits are pending. If you are an individual representative payee, you can use the my Social Security representative payee portal to access the same standardized benefit verification letter online for your beneficiaries.
This new standardized benefit verification letter is another example of our commitment to improve our service to you.
No matter how you request your letter, whether calling our National 800 Number, your local office, the interactive voice response system, or online with your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount, the benefit verification letter now contains a seamless look.
Q: Are Social Security numbers reassigned after a person dies?
A: No. We do not reassign Social Security numbers. In all, we have assigned more than 500 million Social Security numbers. Each year we assign about 5.5 million new numbers. There are over one billion combinations of the nine-digit Social Security number. As a result, the current system has enough new numbers to last for several more generations. For more information about Social Security, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Q: I prefer reading by audio book. Does Social Security have audio publications?
A: Yes, we do. You can find them at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Some of the publications available include “What You Can Do Online,” “Working While Disabled — How We Can Help,” “Apply Online for Social Security Benefits,” and “Your Social Security Card and Number.” You can listen now at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Q: I haven’t received my Social Security Statement in the mail the last few years. Will I ever get one again?
A: We currently mail Social Security statements to workers age 60 and over who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits and do not yet have a my Social Security account. We mail the statements three months prior to their birthday. Instead of waiting to receive a mailed statement, we encourage people to open a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount so they can access their statement online, anytime.
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 or by phone, we suggest that you have the following information at hand when you do it. This 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; and
• 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 it to us. To get started, visit our Retirement Planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2.
Q: If I call 1-800-772-1213, can a Social Security representative take my application for Medicare prescription drug help over the phone?
A: If an interviewer is available when you call the 800 number, he or she can take your application over the phone. If an interviewer is not immediately available, we can schedule a telephone appointment for you. For the fastest and most convenient way to apply for Medicare prescription drug help, go online to www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.