Javascript is disabled. Please enable Javascript to log in.
Published: 2008-03-26

Social Security: What You Need To Know When You Get Disability Benefits



Who Should Read This Booklet?

You should, now that you're receiving Social Security disability benefits. You might think that, because the disability application process is over and your benefits are about to start, you no longer have to worry about Social Security. But what should you do if your condition improves? Or what if you want to go back to work but are afraid of losing your benefits?

Knowing the answers to these and other questions now will save you a great deal of time, inconvenience, and maybe some money later. That's why you should read this booklet now, then put it aside for reference later.

For easy reference, this booklet is divided into four parts:

  • Your Disability Benefits;
  • Reporting Changes That Can Affect Your Benefits;
  • Reviewing Your Disability Case; and
  • Helping You Return To Work.

If you also receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), payments, there are some additional rules for that program. Ask Social Security for a copy of the booklet, What You Need To Know When You Get SSI (Publication No. 05-11011).

What's Inside

Part 1: Your Disability Benefits
Your Benefit Amount
When To Expect Your Benefit
If You Get A Check By Mail
Returning Payments Not Due
Paying Taxes On Your Benefits
How Long Payments Continue
A Word About Medicare
Benefits For Children
If A Social Security Employee Visits You
Free Social Security Services
A Message About Food Stamps
Your Personal Information Is Safe With Social Security

Part 2: Reporting Changes That Can Affect Your Benefits
If You Move
If Your Condition Changes
If You Go To Work
If You Go Outside The United States
If You Receive Other Disability Benefits
If You Get A Pension From Work Not Covered By Social Security
If You Are A Spouse Or Surviving Spouse Who Receives A Government Pension
If You Get Married
If A Person Is Not Able To Manage His Or Her Own Funds
If A Beneficiary Is Convicted Of A Criminal Offense
If A Beneficiary Dies
How To Report A Change

Part 3: Reviewing Your Disability Case
Frequency Of Reviews
What Happens During A Review
Appeal Rights

Part 4: Helping You Return To Work
Understanding "Substantial" Work
Nine-Month Trial Work Period
36-Month Extended Period Of Eligibility
Medicare Continues
Help With Work Expenses
Vocational Rehabilitation
If You Become Disabled Again
Special Rules For Blind Persons Who Work

For More Information

Other Booklets Available

Part 1--Your Disability Benefits

Your Benefit Amount

Your Certificate of Award explains how much your disability benefit will be and when payments start. It also shows when you can expect your condition to be reviewed to see if there has been any improvement. If family members are eligible, they will receive a separate notice and a booklet about things they need to know.

If you are getting disability benefits on your own record, or if you are a widow or widower getting benefits on a spouse's record, your payments cannot begin before the sixth full month of disability. If the sixth month is past, your first payment may include some back benefits.

Your Social Security benefit may be reduced if you are eligible for workers' compensation, other public disability payments or a pension from a job where you did not have to pay Social Security taxes. (See Part 2-- If You Get A Pension From Work Not Covered By Social Security, for more information.)

You can expect your payment amount to go up in future years. Whenever the cost of living goes up in a year, benefits will be increased by that amount the following January. If there is an increase, you will get a notice telling you about it. You do not have to apply for this increase; it comes automatically.

When To Expect Your Benefit

Social Security benefits are paid each month. The notice you received telling you that your benefit application was approved also told you when you will receive your monthly benefits.

New Social Security beneficiaries have their monthly benefits deposited into their bank accounts. Since August 1996, only beneficiaries who certify they don't have a bank account receive checks by mail. Direct deposit protects benefits from loss, theft or mail delay. It is more convenient for the beneficiary and a cost saving for the government.

If You Get A Check By Mail

The post office generally delivers your check on time every month, but if your check is delayed, wait at least three days before reporting the missing check to Social Security. The most common reason checks are late is because a change of address was not reported.

If your check is lost or stolen after you receive it, contact Social Security immediately. Your check can be replaced, but it takes time.

To be safe, you should cash or deposit your check as soon as possible after you receive it. You shouldn't sign the check until you are at the place where you will cash it. If you sign it ahead of time and lose it, the person who finds it could cash it. A government check must be cashed within 12 months after the date of the check, or it will be void.

Returning Payments Not Due

If you receive a payment you know is not due, (for example, you are working and your condition has improved), you should return it to any Social Security office. If you sent it by mail, be sure to enclose a note telling why you are sending the payment back.

Paying Taxes On Your Benefits

Some people who get Social Security have to pay taxes on their benefits. You will be affected only if you have substantial income in addition to your Social Security benefits.

  • If you file a federal tax return as an "individual", and your combined income* is between $25,000 and $34,00, you may have to pay taxes on 50 percent of your Social Security benefits. If your combined income is above $34,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits is subject to income tax.
  • If you file a joint return, you may have to pay taxes on 50 percent of your benefits if you and your spouse have a combined income* that is between $32,000 and $44,000. If your combined income* is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits is subject to income tax.
  • If you are a member of a couple and file a separate return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.

*On the 1040 tax return, your "combined income" is the sum of your adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest plus one-half of your Social Security benefits.

How Long Payments Continue

Your disability benefits generally will continue for as long as your impairment has not medically improved and you cannot work. They will not necessarily continue indefinitely. Because of advances in medical science and rehabilitation techniques, an increasing number of people with disabilities recover from serious accidents and illnesses. Also, many individuals, through determination and effort, overcome serious conditions and return to work in spite of them.

As explained on Part 3--Reviewing Your Disability Case, your case will be reviewed periodically to make sure you're still disabled. In addition, you are responsible for promptly reporting if your medical condition improves, if you believe that you can work or when you actually do return to work. (See Part 2-- If You Go To Work, for more information.)

Your benefits may be affected if you marry (unless you are getting disability benefits on your own record), if you receive certain other types of disability payments, or if you go to certain countries. Make sure you read and understand the information on what to report on Part 2--Reporting Changes That Can Affect Your Benefits. In this way, you can avoid having to pay back some benefits later.

If you are still getting disability benefits when you turn 65, your benefits automatically will be changed to retirement benefits, generally in the same amount. You then will receive a new booklet explaining your rights and responsibilities as a retired person. If you are a disabled widow or widower, your benefits will be changed to regular widow or widower benefits (at the same rate) at age 60, and you will receive a new instruction booklet that explains the rights and responsibilities for people who get survivors benefits.

A Word About Medicare

After you receive disability benefits for 24 months, you will be eligible for Medicare. You will get information about Medicare several months before your coverage starts. (If you have chronic kidney disease requiring regular dialysis or a transplant, you may qualify for Medicare almost immediately.)

Help For Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries

If you get Medicare and have low income and few resources, your state may pay your Medicare premiums and, in some cases, other "out-of-pocket" Medicare expenses such as deductibles and coinsurance. Only your state can decide if you qualify. To find out if you do, contact your state or local welfare office or Medicaid agency. For more general information about the program, contact Social Security and ask for a copy of the publication, Medicare Savings For Qualified Beneficiaries (HCFA Publication No. 02184).

Benefits For Children

If a child is getting benefits on your record, there are important things you should know about his or her benefits.

When A Child Reaches Age 18

A child's benefits stop with the month before the child reaches age 18, unless the child is either disabled or is a full-time elementary or secondary school student and remains unmarried.

About five months before the child's 18th birthday, the person receiving the child's benefits will get a form explaining how benefits can continue.

A child whose benefits stopped at age 18 can have them started again if he or she becomes disabled before reaching 22 or becomes a full-time elementary or secondary school student before reaching age 19.

If A Child Is Disabled

A child can continue to receive benefits after age 18 if he or she has a disability. The child also may qualify for SSI disability benefits. Call us for more information.

If A Child At Age 18 Is A Student

A child can receive benefits until age 19 if he or she continues to be a full-time elementary or secondary school student and remains unmarried. When a student's 19th birthday occurs during a school term, benefits can be continued up to two months to allow completion of the term.

Social Security should be notified immediately if the student drops out of school, changes from full-time to part-time attendance, is expelled or suspended, or changes schools. We also should be told if the student is paid by his or her employer for attending school.

We send each student a form at the beginning and end of the school year. It is important that the form be filled out and returned to us. Benefits could be stopped if the form is not sent back.

A student can keep receiving benefits during a vacation period of four months or less if he or she plans to go back to school full time at the end of the vacation.

A student who stops attending school generally can receive benefits again if he or she returns to school full time before age 19. The student needs to contact Social Security to reapply for benefits.

How Divorce Affects A Stepchild's Benefits

If a stepchild is receiving benefits on your earnings record and you and the child's parent divorce, the stepchild's benefit will end the month following the month the divorce becomes final. You must tell us as soon as the divorce becomes final.

Having A Child After Benefits Start

If you become the parent of a child after you begin receiving Social Security benefits and the child is in your care, be sure to notify us so that the child also can receive benefits.

If A Social Security Employee Visits You

If anyone comes to your home to talk about Social Security or SSI, ask for his or her identification. Anyone who is from Social Security will be glad to show you proper identification.

If you have any doubts about the person, you can call us to ask if someone was sent to see you. And remember: Social Security employees will never ask you for money to have something done. It's their job to help you.

Free Social Security Services

You never have to pay for information or service at Social Security. Some businesses advertise that they can provide name changes, Social Security cards or earnings statements for a fee. All these services are provided free by Social Security. So don't pay for something that's free. Call us first. Social Security is the best place to get information about Social Security.

A Message About Food Stamps

You can get a food stamp application and information at any Social Security office. Or call our toll-free number
1-800-772-1213. Ask for the leaflet, Food Stamps and Other Nutrition Programs (Publication No. 05-10100) or the factsheet, Food Stamp Facts (Publication No. 05-10101).

Your Personal Information Is Safe With Social Security

Social Security keeps personal information on millions of people. That information such as your Social Security number, earnings record, age, and address is confidential. Generally, we will discuss this information only with you. We need your permission if you want someone else to help with your Social Security business.

If you ask a friend or family member to call Social Security, you need to be with them when they call so we will know that you want them to help. The Social Security representative will ask your permission to discuss your Social Security business with that person.

If you send a friend or family member to our local office to conduct your Social Security business, send your written consent with them. Only with your written permission can Social Security discuss your personal information with them and provide the answers to your questions.

In the case of a minor child, the natural parent or legal guardian can act on the child's behalf in taking care of the child's Social Security business.

We urge you to be careful with your Social Security number and to protect its confidentiality whenever possible. Although we can't prevent others from asking for your Social Security number, you should know that your Social Security records are kept private.

There are times when the law requires Social Security to give information to other government agencies to conduct other government health or welfare programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Medicaid and food stamps. Programs receiving information from Social Security are prohibited from sharing that information.

Part 2--Reporting Changes That Can Affect Your Benefits

You should promptly report any changes that may affect your disability benefits. Family members receiving benefits also should report events that might affect their payments. The events that must be reported are explained on the next few pages.

If You Move

When you plan to move, tell us your new address and phone number as soon as you know them. You can report this information by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213.

Even when you receive your benefits by direct deposit, Social Security must have your correct address so we can send letters and other important information to you. Your benefits will be stopped if we are unable to contact you.

When you report your new address, let us know the names of any family members who also should receive their Social Security benefits there. Be sure to file a change of address with the post office, too.

If Your Condition Changes

You must notify us if there is any change for the better in your condition. Failure to do so could mean you'll get payments you aren't due-money that will have to be repaid. Your case will be reviewed periodically to determine if you're still disabled. (See Part 3--Reviewing Your Disability Case, for more information.)

If You Go To Work

You should tell us if you take a job or become self-employed no matter how little you earn. If you are still disabled, you will be eligible for a trial work period and can continue receiving benefits for up to nine months (see Part 4--Helping You Return to Work).

Also, notify us if you have any special work expenses resulting from your disability (such as specialized equipment, a wheelchair, or even some prescription drugs) or if there is any change in the amount of the expenses.

If You Go Outside The United States

If you are a citizen of the United States, your Social Security payments generally can continue for as long as you are outside the United States and meet all requirements. (The Social Security office has a list of 60 other countries whose citizens also can get Social Security benefits if they leave the United States.) However, you must notify Social Security when you plan to leave the U.S. for 30 days or more so that any letters can be sent to the right address. Notifying us also will enable you to learn about any special rules that apply to those receiving benefits outside the U.S. And remember to let Social Security know when you return to the U.S.

If you are a citizen of a country not approved for us to send checks, your benefits will be suspended after you have been outside the U.S. for six months, unless you meet specific conditions. And, if you go to a country where U.S. Treasury Department regulations prohibit sending checks, your benefits will stop immediately. For more information, ask any Social Security office for the booklet, Your Social Security Payments While You Are Outside The United States (Publication No. 05-10137).

If You Receive Other Disability Benefits

If you are disabled, and under 65, Social Security benefits for you and your family may be reduced if you are also eligible for workers' compensation (including black lung payments) or for disability benefits from certain federal, state or local government programs. Tell us if you:

  • apply for another type of disability benefit;
  • begin receiving another disability benefit or a lump-sum settlement; or
  • already receive another disability benefit and the amount changes or your payment stops.

If You Get A Pension From Work Not Covered By Social Security

If your disability began after 1985, tell us if you start receiving a pension (for which you were first eligible after 1985) from a job where you did not pay Social Security taxes. For more information, ask at any Social Security office for the factsheet, A Pension From Work Not Covered By Social Security (Publication No. 05-10045).

If You Are A Spouse Or Surviving Spouse Who Receives A Government Pension

If you are a disabled widow or widower or the spouse of someone getting disability benefits, your Social Security payments may be reduced if you worked for a federal, state, or local government agency where you did not pay Social Security taxes and you receive a pension from that agency. Notify Social Security if you begin to receive such a pension or if the amount of the pension changes. Ask for the factsheet, Government Pension Offset (Publication No. 05-10007), for more information.

If You Get Married

Here's how marriage may affect your disability benefits and when you must report.

  • If you are getting disability benefits on your own record--your payments will continue and you don't need to report the marriage. But, report any change of name so it will appear on your future mailings.
  • If you are a disabled widow or widower--payments will continue, but remember to report the name change. If your current spouse dies, you may be eligible for higher benefits on his/her work record.
  • If you are an adult who was disabled before age 22 and you are getting benefits on the Social Security record of a parent or grandparent--you should report your marriage. Payments generally will end unless you marry a person receiving certain types of Social Security benefits. If your benefits stop because of marriage, they cannot be started again unless the marriage is declared void.
  • Benefits for the child of someone getting disability benefits always end if the child marries. This must be reported right away.

If A Person Is Not Able To Manage His Or Her Own Funds

If a person receiving benefits becomes unable to manage his or her funds, someone should let Social Security know. Social Security will arrange for an organization or person called a "representative payee" to receive and use the benefits for that person.

The payee is responsible for:

  • properly using the benefits on behalf of the beneficiary;
  • reporting any events that may affect payments; and
  • completing a Representative Payee Report when asked to do so by Social Security.

If you have a representative payee and also are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may be referred to the state substance abuse agency for treatment.

Please Note: If a person has "power of attorney" for someone, that does not automatically qualify him or her to be the representative payee.

For more information, ask Social Security for the booklet, A Guide For Representative Payees (Publication No.
05-10076).

If A Beneficiary Is Convicted Of A Criminal Offense

If someone getting Social Security benefits is convicted of a crime, Social Security should be notified immediately. Benefits generally are not paid for months a person is imprisoned for a crime, but any family members who are eligible may continue to receive benefits.

Benefits usually are not paid to persons who commit a crime and are confined to an institution by court order and at public expense. This applies if the person has been found:

  • guilty, but insane;
  • guilty by reason of insanity or similar factors (such as mental disease, mental defect, or mental incompetence); or
  • incompetent to stand trial.

If A Beneficiary Dies

When a beneficiary dies, no payment is due for the month of death. For example, if the person dies in June, even if it was on the last day, the payment received in July (which is the June benefit) should be returned. However, if the payment is issued jointly to a husband and wife, the survivor should get in touch with any Social Security office about the payment.

If the beneficiary was using direct deposit, the bank also should be notified of the death so it can return any payments received after death.

When a person getting disability benefits dies, payments to his or her family will be changed to survivors benefits. If the worker received benefits on behalf of children, a new representative payee must be appointed. A death certificate or other proof of death is needed.

How To Report A Change

You can report a change simply by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. You also can visit any office or mail in the reporting form given to you when you applied for benefits.

If you send a report by mail, be sure to include:

  • your name and, if different, the name and Social Security claim number of the person on whose account you get benefits;
  • name of person(s) about whom the report is made;
  • your Social Security claim number;
  • what new information is being reported;
  • date of the change; and
  • your signature, address, phone number and date.

If you need help in completing a report, the people at any Social Security office will be glad to help you. Or, you can call our toll-free number-- 1-800-772-1213. Be sure to have your Social Security number handy. If you are getting benefits on somebody else's record (a spouse, for example), we need his or her Social Security number, too.

Part 3--Reviewing Your Disability Case

Under Social Security law, all disability cases must be reviewed from time to time. This is to make sure that people receiving benefits continue to be disabled and meet all other requirements.

Your benefits generally will continue unless there is strong proof that your condition has medically improved and that you are able to return to work.

Frequency Of Reviews

How often your case is reviewed depends on the severity of your condition and the likelihood of improvement. The frequency can range from six months to seven years. Your Certificate of Award shows you when you can expect your first review.

Here are general guidelines for reviews:

  • improvement expected- if medical improvement can be predicted when benefits start, your first review should be six to 18 months later;
  • improvement possible- if medical improvement is possible but cannot be predicted, your case will be reviewed about every three years; and
  • improvement not expected- if medical improvement is not likely, your case will be reviewed only about once every five to seven years.

What Happens During A Review

After you get a letter announcing the review, someone from your Social Security office will contact you to explain the review process and your appeal rights. You will be asked to provide information about any medical treatment you've received and any work you might have done.

Then your file will be sent to the state agency that makes disability decisions for Social Security. An evaluation team that includes a disability examiner and a doctor will carefully review your file and request your medical reports. If reports are not complete or current enough, you may be asked to have a special examination or test that the government will pay for.

Once a decision is reached, we will send you a letter explaining it. If we decide you are still disabled, your benefits will continue. If we decide you are no longer disabled, you can file an appeal (see section below). If you don't, your benefits will stop three months after we said your disability ended.

Appeal Rights

If you don't agree with a decision we make, you can appeal it. You have 60 days to file a written appeal with any Social Security office. Generally, there are four levels to the appeals process. They are:

  • reconsideration-- your claim is reviewed by someone who did not take part in the first decision;
  • hearing before an administrative law judge-- you can appear before a judge to present your case;
  • review by Appeals Council-- if the Appeals Council decides your case should be reviewed, it will either decide your case or return it to the administrative law judge for further review;and
  • federal district court-- if the Appeals Council decides not to review your case or if you disagree with its decision, you may file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

If you disagree with the decision at one level, you have 60 days to appeal to the next level until you are satisfied with the decision or have completed the last level of appeal.

You have two special appeal rights when a decision is made that you are no longer disabled.

  • Disability hearing-- This is part of the reconsideration process. You can meet face-to-face with the person who is reconsidering your case to explain why you feel you are still disabled. You can submit new evidence or information and can bring someone who knows about your disability. This special hearing does not replace your right to also have a formal hearing before an administrative law judge (the second appeal step) if your reconsideration is denied.
  • Continuation of benefits-- While you are appealing your case, you can have your disability benefits and Medicare coverage (if you have it) continue until an administrative law judge makes his or her decision. However, you must request the continuation of your benefits during the first 10 days of the 60 days mentioned earlier. If your appeal is not successful, you may have to repay the benefits.

Part 4--Helping You Return To Work

Even after you start receiving disability benefits, you may want to try working again. To help you, there are many "work incentives" --rules that are designed to ease the transition back to work. These rules continue cash payments and Medicare while you work, help with the extra work expenses associated with working with a disability and help with rehabilitation and training that may lead to a new line of work. A brief description of these rules follows. For detailed "work incentive" information, ask Social Security for the booklet, Working While Disabled...How We Can Help (Publication No. 05-10095).

Understanding "Substantial" Work

To understand how work affects your disability benefits, you need to understand how Social Security measures your work. Disability benefits can be paid only if you are unable to do any "substantial" work. The amount of your earnings is the key to determining whether your work is substantial.

In general, if your wages average more than $500 a month (after allowable deductions), you are performing substantial work.

If your average monthly earnings are between $300 and $500 a month, your work could be considered substantial if the amount and quality of your work are about the same as that done by workers in your area who are not disabled. In making this decision, we consider the time, energy, skill, and responsibility involved in your work. Earnings of less than $300 a month are not considered substantial. (See Part 4-- Special Rules for Blind Persons Who Work.)

If your earnings are "subsidized"--that is, if your employer says you are paid more than the reasonable value of your work --the subsidy part of your pay is not counted as earnings in deciding whether you are performing substantial work.

If you are self-employed, your business income alone may not be the best measure of whether you are doing substantial work. Business income may depend on many other factors, such as the economic situation and services of other people. In such cases, more consideration is given to the amount of time you spend in your business than the amount of your income.

Following are the rules that may help you return to work.

Nine-Month Trial Work Period

You may be able to continue to receive benefits for up to nine months while you try to work. The months need not be in a row, but they must take place within a 60-month period. Generally speaking, a "trial work" month is any month in which you earn over $200 in gross wages (regardless of amount of time worked) or spend 40 hours in your own business (regardless of amount of earnings). You will receive your full benefits during this period.

At the end of nine months of trial work, we decide if you are able to do "substantial" work. If you can, your benefits will stop after a three-month adjustment period. If you are not able to work, your payments will continue.

Remember, your trial work period will continue only if you are still disabled. If you recover during a trial work period, your benefits will stop after a three-month adjustment period.

36-Month Extended Period Of Eligibility

If your benefits stop because you have returned to work even though you are still medically disabled, you receive special "benefit protection" for the next 36 months. During that time, you can receive a benefit for any month your earnings fall below $500. You do not have to file a new application, but you do have to notify Social Security. If you are unable to continue working, your benefits continue indefinitely so long as you remain disabled.

Medicare Continues

If you are working even though you are still disabled, your Medicare coverage may continue for at least 39 months after the trial work period. After that, you may purchase the coverage with a monthly premium.

Help With Work Expenses

If you need certain equipment or services to help you work, the money you pay for them can be deducted from your earnings in deciding whether you are doing "substantial" work. It does not matter if you also need the items or services for daily living (such as a wheelchair).

The cost of medical equipment, certain attendant care services, prostheses, and similar items and services is generally deductible. The cost of drugs or medical services is deductible only if required because of your condition.

Vocational Rehabilitation

When you applied for disability benefits, information about you and your impairment may have been sent to the state vocational rehabilitation agency or other provider of vocational rehabilitation services. If they offer you services and you refuse them without good reason, your monthly benefits may be withheld. If you have not heard from them and are interested in receiving rehabilitation services, you should give them a call.

Your disability benefits will continue while you receive rehabilitation services. Under a special rule, benefits can continue even if you medically recover while participating in an approved vocational rehabilitation or training program. For more information, ask Social Security for the booklet, How Social Security Can Help With Vocational Rehabilitation (Publication No. 05-10050).

If You Become Disabled Again

If you become disabled a second time within five years after your benefits were stopped, your cash payments can begin again with the first full month you are disabled. Another "waiting period" is not required (as it was the first time you applied for Social Security disability benefits). However, you must file a new application. There is also no waiting period if you are a disabled widow or widower or a person disabled before 22 who becomes disabled again within seven years after benefits ended. If you had Medicare coverage, that also will resume without the 24-month waiting period. (Explained in Part 1-- A Word About Medicare.)

Special Rules For Blind Persons Who Work

If you receive disability benefits because of blindness, there are two special rules that may help you when you work.

  • Average monthly earnings of $1,050 or less in 1998 are not considered substantial work. This monthly amount will increase in future years. (Explained in Part 4--under section, Understanding "Substantial" Work.)
  • If you are 55 to 65, monthly benefits will continue if you cannot do the regular (or similar) work you did before turning age 55 or becoming blind, whichever is later. For more information, ask Social Security for a copy of the booklet, Social Security-- If You Are Blind How We Can Help (Publication No. 05 10052).

For More Information

You can get recorded information 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays, by calling Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. You can speak to a service representative between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days.

You can request:

  • an application for a new or replacement Social Security card;
  • a Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (SSA-7004) that gives you an estimate of your Social Security benefit based on your lifetime earnings;
  • a benefit verification (the amount of Social Security benefits you receive each month);
  • a replacement Medicare card; or
  • the location of the nearest Social Security office.

In addition, you can call after business hours to access the automated service to request a variety of publications or general information messages.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our toll-free "TTY" number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days.

To help us serve you better, please have the following items handy when you call:

  • your Social Security number;
  • a list of questions you want to ask;
  • any recent correspondence you received from us;and
  • a pencil and paper to record information and answers to your questions.

Our lines are busiest early in the week and early in the month, so if your business can wait, it's best to call at other times.

The Social Security Administration treats all calls confidentially-- whether they're made to our toll-free numbers or to one of our local offices. We also want to ensure that you receive accurate and courteous services. That is why we have a second Social Security representative monitor some incoming and outgoing telephone calls.

Other Booklets Available

Social Security has a number of publications that contain information about other Social Security programs. Contact Social Security to get a free copy of any of these publications-- all of which are also available in Spanish. They include:

Social Security-- Understanding The Benefits (Publication No. 05-10024)-- a comprehensive explanation of all the Social Security programs;

Retirement Benefits (Publication No. 05-10035)-- explains Social Security retirement benefits;

Survivors Benefits (Publication No. 05-10084)-- explains Social Security survivors benefits;

Medicare (Publication No. 05-10043)-- explains Medicare hospital insurance and medical insurance;

SSI (Publication No. 05-11000)-- explains the SSI program, which provides a basic income to people who are 65 or older, disabled, or blind and have limited income and resources; and

Working While Disabled...How We Can Help (Publication No. 05-10095)-- explains the work incentives available to people with disabilities who work.

Social Security Administration
SSA Publication No. 05-10153
February 1998
ICN 480165