DON’T GIVE A GIFT TO A THIEF

Written by Sherita Deal Social Security Manager.

It’s been said that the true spirit of the holiday season is in giving, not receiving.  With this in mind, it’s likely that you will be spending a bit of time shopping for presents, your credit card flying out of your wallet or purse like wind-blown snow.
But as you shop in stores and online, be sure you’re not giving a surprise gift to an identity thief.  Because the surprise will be on you — and it won’t be a good one.
Sometimes when you do business, you may be asked for your Social Security number.  In many cases, those asking don’t really need it.  If anyone asks for your Social Security number or other identifying information, ask them why they want it and whether they absolutely need it.  

Time to think about your New Year's financial resolutions

Written by Lwm Staff.

Once again, it's time to make some New Year's resolutions. This year, in addition to hitting the gym, learning that second language and getting better organized, why not also consider a few financial resolutions?
What types of resolutions might you consider? Here are a few suggestions:

What Papers Do I need for my Taxes?

Written by webmaster.

Tax Prep 101 - Year End File Organization

I know that I dread this time of year.. Especially since I am a paperwork disaster.. As I come across these articles, I will add them so you can look all in one place. Living Well Magazine tries to  make our daily tasks easier, so instead of going to one hundred sites... all in one place, and maybe tax time won't be so stressful !  

 Although April 15th is still many weeks away, the tax deadline has a way of sneaking up on you and catching you by suprise. If you're not careful, you may find yourself rushing around at the last minute trying to get your paperwork in order, trying to find all the information you need to get started, much less finished.

Id Theft

While recovering from an act of identity theft can be difficult, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from identity thieves.

Identity theft often starts with a Social Security number, or SSN.  Once a thief has a valid number, he or she can open or reactivate credit card accounts in your name, apply for federal or state benefits or make changes in your financial accounts.  That nine-digit SSN is a valuable first step in assuming someone’s identity.  And it is also why protecting your Social Security number, or SSN, is the first step in preventing identity theft.  

Questions and Answers on Social Security

Question: I applied for my baby's Social Security number in the hospital but have not received it. How long does it take?

In many states, where the birth registration process is electronic, the average wait is four weeks. But in other states, the wait can be twice or three times as long. Here's why. When a parent requests a Social Security number for a newborn as part of the birth registration process in the hospital, the state vital statistics office forwards to Social Security the information needed to assign a number to the child and issue a card. From the time Social Security receives the data, the process of assigning the number and issuing the card takes about two weeks. Learn more about Social Security cards and numbers at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Question: When a Social Security beneficiary dies, does the funeral home notify Social Security or is the death notification up to the family

Many funeral directors voluntarily provide death information directly to Social Security. But, family members of a deceased individual still should notify Social Security. For information on what action to take when a beneficiary dies, see our online publication, What To Do When A Beneficiary Dies, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/deathbenefits.htm.

RETIREMENT

Question: I've heard you can apply for retirement benefits online. But isn't it easier just to go into an office?

Filing online means there's no need to travel to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. Retiring online is easy and convenient. You can apply in as little as 15 minutes. In most cases, that's it — no papers to sign or mail in. Want to learn more? Visit www.socialsecurity.gov and click on the "Retirement" tab in the top, left corner. Our website will:
Walk you through the application process;
Tell you what information you'll need to answer the questions on the application; and
Describe the documents you may need to present after you apply.
So what are you waiting for? Get started now at www.socialsecurity.gov.

SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME

Question: Social Security stopped my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments because of the seven-year limit for noncitizens. But someone told me I could get it started again since I'm applying for citizenship. Will I get SSI retroactively, back to the time I lost it?

If your SSI stopped because of the seven-year limit for noncitizens, you may receive SSI back to October 2008, and continuing through October 2010. This is a result of the SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act (Public Law 110-328). If you have an application for naturalization pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the same has been approved, you may be able to receive an additional year of SSI payments up to September 30, 2011. However, Social Security will not pay you SSI benefits for any months before October 2008. To learn more, visit our fact sheet on the subject at www.socialsecurity.gov/immigration/extension.htm.

DISABILITY

Question: I got a letter that said my Social Security disability case has to be reviewed. Am I going to stop getting benefits until retirement?

Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you cannot work. Your case must be reviewed regularly to make sure your disability hasn't improved and that you are still unable to work. If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, they will automatically be converted to retirement benefits. Remember, www.socialsecurity.gov has the answers to all your Social Security questions. Or, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY, 1-800-325-0778).

MEDICARE

Question: How do I know if I am eligible for the $3,900 in savings with the Medicare prescription drug program?

To get extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs, there are annual income and resource limits. If your annual income is below $16,245 (or $21,855 if you are married and living with your spouse), you may qualify for the extra help. Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help if you meet certain conditions. Some examples of when your income may be higher include if you or your spouse:

Support other family members who live with you;

Have earnings from work; or

Live in Alaska or Hawaii.

In addition to the income limits, your total resources generally must be limited to $12,510 (or $25,010 if you are married and living with your spouse). Resources include the value of some things you own, though not the house you live in. For more information see our publication, Medicare, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043.html, or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). To learn more, go to www.socialsecurity.gov and visit the "Medicare" link. Or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Do I have to pay Income Tax on my Social Security?

Q:Do I have to pay income tax on my Social Security benefits?

A:You will have to pay federal taxes on your benefits if you file an individual federal tax return and your total income is more than $25,000.  If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income that is more than $32,000.  For more information,

5 Tips to Protect Yourself from Credit and Identity Theft

Written by MET Life.

Today’s fast paced world of electronic convenience has made identity theft an ever-increasing problem. You probably know someone who this has happened to – it may have happened to you. It can be a nightmare – and an expensive and time consuming one at that. There are simple actions you can take that can help to protect your identity and your credit rating:

Is the World Still Round?

Written by Eric D. Etshman.

“Stop going for the easy buck and start producing something with your life. Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of others.”

-Martin Sheen as Carl Fox, Wall Street

For centuries European explorers navigated the globe on what was then the prevalent assumption that world was flat, and that a terrible and unimagined fate befell those who traversed too close to it’s edge. While the scientific knowledge of the Earth’s roundness was said to be known as far back as the ancient Egyptians and through to the Greeks and even the Mayan civilization, you could argue that nobody knew for sure until Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe, a journey he did not survive, actually proved it. 

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