Questions and Answers on Social Security

Posted in Managing your Money.

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

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


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 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


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


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, has the answers to all your Social Security questions. Or, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY, 1-800-325-0778).


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, or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). To learn more, go to and visit the "Medicare" link. Or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

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