By Deborah Banikowski
District Manager, Syracuse
During this time when our physical offices are closed to the public, you may wonder, “How can I get help from Social Security without visiting an office?”
You can find the answer at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices, which links you to some of our most popular online services. You can apply for retirement and disability benefits, appeal a decision and do much more.
Our newest My Social Security feature, Advance Designation, enables you to identify up to three people, in priority order, who you would like to serve as your potential representative payee in the event you ever need help managing your benefits. We have updated our Frequently Asked Questions at faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-10039 to answer questions you may have about Advance Designation.
You can also apply for Medicare online in less than 10 minutes with no forms to sign and often no required documentation. We’ll process your application and contact you if we need more information.
Visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare to 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.
We’ve organized our Online Services webpage into four popular categories for easy navigation:
• Review Your Information. You can access your secure, personal information and earnings history to make sure everything is correct. You can even print statements with ease.
• Apply for Benefits. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits without having to visit a field office.
• Manage Your Account. You can change your direct deposit information and your address online.
• Find Help and Answers. We’ve answered your most frequently asked questions, and provided links to publications and other informational websites.
Let your family and friends know they can do much of their business with us online at www.ssa.gov.
Q: If I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits, what is the effect on my benefits if I work?
A: In most cases, your return to work would reduce your benefit amount. Unlike Social Security disability, there is no “trial work period” for people who get SSI disability benefits. If your only income besides SSI is from your work, you can earn up to $ 1651 in a month (in 2020) before we stop your payments. Reporting wages each month helps us pay the correct amount of SSI. Timely reporting may also prevent you from owing us money or may allow us to pay a higher amount. We have several publications about SSI, including Reporting Your Wages When You Receive Supplemental Security Income, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Note that there are other work incentives that can help you return to work when you receive SSI. You can read about them in What You Need To Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), also available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Q: Will my eligibility for the Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs be reviewed and, if so, how often?
A: If you get the Extra Help, Social Security may contact you to review your status. This reassessment will ensure you remain eligible for Extra Help and receive all the benefits you deserve. Annually, usually at the end of August, we may send you a form to complete: Social Security Administration Review of Your Eligibility for Extra Help. You will have 30 days to complete and return this form. Any necessary adjustments to the Extra Help will be effective in January of the following year. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp for more information.
Q: I went back to work after retiring, but now the company I work for is downsizing. I’ll be receiving unemployment benefits in a few weeks. Will this affect my retirement benefits?
A: When it comes to retirement benefits, Social Security does not count unemployment as earnings, so your retirement benefits will not be affected. However, any income you receive from Social Security may reduce your unemployment benefits. Contact your state unemployment office for information on how your state applies the reduction to your unemployment compensation.