Social Security program distributes about $2.7 billion each month to benefit about 4.1 million children
By Deborah Banikowski
District Manager, Syracuse
Children are our future. We share our knowledge and talent with them, we pass on our values to them knowing they will share those gifts. Social Security safeguards children all year long, but we’d like to take this opportunity to share information about our programs that provide direct support to children.
The latest information available says that in 2018 the Social Security program distributed about $2.7 billion each month to benefit about 4.1 million children on average each month because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired or deceased. Those dollars help to provide the necessities of life for family members and help make it possible for those children to complete high school. When a working parent becomes disabled or dies, Social Security benefits help stabilize the family’s financial future.
Children with disabilities are among our most vulnerable citizens. The Social Security Administration is dedicated to helping those with qualifying disabilities and their families through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which is separate from the Social Security program. To qualify for SSI:
• The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, resulting in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must severely limit your child’s activities; and
• The child’s condition(s) must be severe, last for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death.
If the parents of the child or children have more income or resources than are allowed, then the child or children will not qualify for SSI. You can read more about children’s benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10026.pdf.
Social Security and SSI also covers many chronic illnesses and conditions. The Compassionate Allowances program is a way to quickly identify people with diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet the standards for disability benefits under the Social Security and SSI programs. Thousands of children receive SSI benefits because they have one of the conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm.
Keep in mind, Social Security and SSI are two very distinct and separate programs, and eligibility for each is different.
Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/people/kids to learn more about all we do to care for children. Social Security is with you and your children throughout your life’s journey, securing today and tomorrow. If you know a family who needs our help, please share these resources with them.
Q: I plan to retire in spring. How soon can I file for my Social Security benefits?
A: You can file four months before you plan to receive benefits. Go ahead and apply now if you plan to retire when winter’s frost finally lets up. To apply, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. Applying online has never been easier — you can do it from the comfort of your home. All you need is 15 minutes and internet access.
Q: I’m retiring early, at age 62, and I receive investment income from a rental property I own. Does investment income count as earnings?
A: No. We count only the wages you earn from a job or your net profit if you’re self-employed. Non-work income such as annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits. Most pensions will not affect your benefits. However, your benefit may be affected by government pensions earned through work on which you did not pay Social Security tax. You can retire online at www.socialsecurity.gov. For more information, call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Q: I was wounded while on military service overseas. What are the benefits for wounded warriors, and how can I apply?
A: Through the Wounded Warrior program, Social Security expedites processing of disability claims of current military service members or veterans disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001. Service members and veterans who have a Veterans Administration compensation rating of 100 % permanent and total (P&T) may also receive expedited processing of applications for Social Security disability benefits. Keep in mind, this expedited process applies to only the application for benefits. To be eligible for benefits, you must meet Social Security’s strict definition of “disability,” which means:
• You must be unable to do substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and
• Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or to result in death.
You can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Find more information for veterans at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/veterans.
Q: My brother had an accident at work last year and is now receiving Social Security disability benefits. His wife and son also receive benefits. Before his accident, he helped support another daughter by a woman he never married. Is the second child entitled to benefits?
A: The child may qualify for Social Security benefits even though your brother wasn’t married to the second child’s mother. The child’s caretaker should file an application on her behalf. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
Q: What do I need to report to Social Security if I get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments?
A: You need to report any changes that may affect your payment amount. This includes changes in your income or resources. You must report changes of address, changes in your living arrangements, and changes in your earned and unearned income. To learn more about SSI, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi.
Q: I was incarcerated for two years. Before I was imprisoned, I received SSI benefits. Will my SSI payments start automatically when I am released?
A: No. You must contact your local Social Security office and provide them with information regarding your release dates. In some cases, it may be necessary to reapply for SSI benefits. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/reentry or contact your local Social Security office.
Q: I am applying for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. Can state agencies help with my Medicare costs?
A: When you file your application for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs, you can start your application process for the Medicare Savings Programs—state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs. When you apply for Extra Help, Social Security will send information to your state unless you tell us not to on the application. Your state will contact you to help you apply for a Medicare Savings Program. Learn more by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.