By Deborah Banikowski
District Manager, Syracuse
Millions of people get monthly Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments. Some need help managing their money. When we receive information that indicates you need help, we’ll assign a representative payee to manage your benefits for you. We try to select someone who knows you and wants to help you. A representative payee receives your monthly benefit payment on your behalf and must use the money to pay for your current needs, including: housing and utilities, food, medical and dental expenses, personal care items, clothing and rehabilitation expenses (if you’re disabled).
If you need help managing your benefits, tell a Social Security representative that there is someone you want to be your representative payee. They should be someone you trust and see often, and who clearly understands your needs. Social service agencies, nursing homes or other organizations are also qualified to be your representative payee. Ask them to contact us.
You can write to us within 60 days of being assigned a representative payee if you don’t agree that you need one or if you want a different representative payee.
We also offer an option, called Advance Designation, which allows you to choose a representative payee in advance. In the event you can no longer make your own financial decisions, you and your family will have peace of mind knowing you already chose someone you trust to manage your benefits.
You can submit your advance designation request when you apply for benefits or after you are already receiving benefits. You may do so through your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount, by telephone, or in person.
You can find more information at http://www.ssa.gov/payee.
Q: I currently receive Social Security disability benefits. I now have a second serious disability. Can my monthly benefit amount be increased?
A: No. Your Social Security disability benefit amount is based on the amount of your lifetime earnings before your disability began and not the number of disabling conditions or illnesses you may have. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.
Q: How much will I receive if I qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?
A: The amount of your SSI benefit depends on where you live and how much income you have. The maximum SSI payment varies nationwide. For 2021, the maximum federal SSI payment for an eligible individual is $794 a month and $1,191 a month for an eligible couple. However, many states add money to the basic payment. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi.
Q: I noticed that my date of birth in Social Security’s records is wrong. How do I get that corrected?
A: To change the date of birth shown on our records, take the following steps:
• Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
Show us documents proving:
• U.S. citizenship (if you have not previously established your citizenship with us);
• Age; and
• Identity; then
• Take (or mail) your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office.
Note that all documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. For details on the documents, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ss5doc.
Q: I’m gathering everything I’ll need to file my taxes this month. Do I have to pay taxes on Social Security benefits? Also, where can I get a replacement 1099?
A: Some people who get Social Security must pay federal income taxes on their benefits. Still, no one pays taxes on more than 85% of their Social Security benefits.
You must pay taxes on some portion of your benefits if you file an individual federal tax return and your income exceeds $25,000. If you file a joint return, you must pay taxes if you and your spouse have combined income of more than $32,000. If you are married and file a separate return, you probably will have to pay taxes on your benefits. You can read more about tax preparation in relation to Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/taxes.htm. Social Security benefits include monthly retirement, survivors, and disability benefits. They don’t include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, which are not taxable. You can also get a replacement 1099 or 1042S when you open your own personal my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.