Plain Talk (About Social Security)

A happy family looks at a computer.The report cards are in. For the second year in a row, some of the best writing in federal government came from Social Security!

…we have made it a priority to speak to you plainly.

The Center for Plain Language issued its annual Federal Plain Language Report Card. The annual report grades federal agencies on how well they communicate with the nation’s taxpayers, and gives grades from A to F on:

  • Compliance with the requirements of the Plain Writing Act of 2010:
  • Plain writing; and
  • Information design.

This year, the Social Security Administration tied for top grades with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Homeland Security. We’re the only agency that has received top marks for two consecutive years.

Let’s face it:  There’s only so much time in the day. There are limitless distractions between your social media feeds and work emails. Do you have time to sift through confusing government jargon and paperwork that you have to read multiple times to understand?

We could explain our programs with complex legalese and confusing run-on sentences. We could add some infographics and long web links. We could even reference SPORT without actually clarifying that, in our world, it’s an acronym for Special Procedures for Overpayment Reduction.

Instead, we have made it a priority to speak to you plainly.

Our mission is to deliver world-class services and make our communications about those services as clear, concise, and easy to understand as possible. You can see our high grades, and those of other federal agencies here.


108 thoughts on “Plain Talk (About Social Security)

    • for social security benefactors@ their survivors the Cola every January 1st should be increased from 1.5% -2% to modern day cost of living yearly inflation rate of 5%-7% the federal government has been cheating us yearly on Cola since it was implemented in 1975 their estimate yearly quotes for Cola are 50% to low and they should reimburse us from 1975-2015 @ the true cost of living margin percentage rate of 5%-7% yearly these are the true figures Washington,D.C Federal Government needs to use as guideline figures to calculate Social Security Cola each year on January 1st.!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Once social security monies are deducted from income where are they placed for protection and appreciation to pay future obligations due to members?

        • The money you pay into Social Security is immediately paid out to recipients. Any excess is placed into Treasury Notes. For many years there was an excess so SS built up a large surplus. Today SS is paying out more than they take in so the surplus is being tapped to pay current recipients. It is hard to get an exact figure but the surplus will run out in about 10 years. At that time SS will pay 2/3 to 3/4 of full benefits.

          • SS would have PLENTY of money IF the Government would have left their hands OFF it and left it in the PRIVATE FUND it was originally in .\! I believe it was Johnson who ecided to put it in the GENERAL fund so they could STEAL “OUR” money ? Ever since then they have used “OUR” money for everything else & also started to GIVE SS to any DRUG HEAD and ALCOHOLIC that couldn’t work anymore because of being BURNT OUT !! A lot of them have NEER WORKED A DAY IN THIER LIE and still get SS !! WHY?

          • Is this an official estimate of the payout reductions? Do we know this to be the case? I hope the Social Security Administration can answer this comment.

          • Thank you for your comment. According to the Social Security Board of Trustees, the combined assets of the Social Security trust funds are projected to be depleted in 2033. If Congress does not act before then, there will only be sufficient income coming in to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits. Please visit here for more information.

        • The Social Security trust funds hold money not needed in the current year to pay benefits and administrative costs and, by law, invest it in special Treasury bonds that are guaranteed by the U.S. Government. A market rate of interest is paid to the trust funds on the bonds they hold, and when those bonds reach maturity or are needed to pay benefits, the Treasury redeems them. Please read our Trust Fund Frequently Asked Questions for a full explanation.

      • I do agree. My cost of living has increased and I think COLA should increase. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

      • If they would clean up their act, get all the DEAD people off the rolls, get all the deadbeats out of the offices, they could afford it! I’ve had to talk to really stupid people on the phone…….people who couldn’t answer simple questions! They need oversight of the employees.

      • I agree with you completely. The people in the government DON’T KNOW what it’s like trying to live with what we get monthly. I myself would love to see ANY of them live off what I receive monthly. Up our cola to match the economy.

    • Free Disability Insurance Reallocation Tax (DIRT) Act

      To immediately amend the DI tax rate from 1.80% to 2.30%, from 0.90% to 1.15% for employees and from 0.90% to 1.15% for employers under Sec. 201(b)(1)(S) of the Social Security Act 42USC(7)II§401 and amend the OASI tax rate from 10.60% to 10.10%, from 5.30% to 5.05% for employees under 26USC(C)(21)(A)§3101 (a) and from 5.30% to 5.05% for employers under 26USC(C)(21)(A)§3111 (a) to avoid depletion of the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund in 2016 without increasing the overall 12.4% OASDI or 15.3% OASDI and Hospital Insurance (HI) tax-rate under 26USC(A)(2)§1401.

      To amend the DI tax rate again in 2018 to 2.20% from 2.30%, from 1.15% to 1.10% for employees and from 1.15% to 1.10% for employers under Sec. 201(b)(1)(S) of the Social Security Act 42USC(7)II§401 and amend the OASI tax rate from 10.10% to 10.20%, from 5.05% to 5.10% for employees under 26USC(C)(21)(A)§3101 (a) and from 5.05% to 5.10% for employers under 26USC(C)(21)(A)§3111 (a) without increasing the overall 12.4% OASDI or 15.3% OASDI and Hospital Insurance (HI) tax-rate under 26USC(A)(2)§1401 to maximize efficiency until a deficit appears in the OASI Trust Fund in 2020.

      Without Income Limit Law (WILL) Act

      To abolish the maximum taxable limit on DI contributions in 2016 and OASI contributions in 2017 and repeal Adjustment of the contribution and benefit base Section 230 of the Social Security Act 42USC(7)§430.

      To require the Social Security Administration to pay for SSI Costs beginning in 2017.

      To share profits in excess of social security program costs to the general fund of the U.S Treasury on a sliding scale beginning in 2017 DI 50/50 prioritizing the $22 billion + 2% annual growth cost of USPS, and OASI 10/90 to eliminate the federal budget deficit. In 2020 OASI would share at negotiated rates an estimated 25/75, in 2025 OASDI would share 50/50 and by 2030 75/25 and at 2035 OASDI would take all to pay for peak in costs of Baby Boomer generation and might need to raise the overall OASDI tax rate.

      • Social Security was meant to cover the gap between one’s savings and the cost of living. Those who are fortunate to work a full lifetime, should have savings and/or a retirement plan, to fund their cost of living, in retirement years and Social Security should be the bridge that ensures they are able to live a comfortable life, with the essentials that they need to live. Why do so many expect Social Security to me the only retirement funds that supports them during their retirement years? Many people blow their money, failing to save for retirement and expect to be bailed out when they hit retirement, with no savings. The only ones who should be bailed out are those who experience catastophic injuries or illnesses and are forced to spend their savings on care and living expenses, prior to reaching retirement age. People need to start being responsible for themselves and properly prepare.

        Look at all the people who are on government assistance their entire lives and them expect Social Security to support them during their elder years. Many of them are capable of working; yet, they become dependent on government support. With 56% of Americans receiving some type of government support, only an ignorant person would fail to see that bankruptcy lies ahead. Even with all of our wealth – which is dwindling each day and turning up in China, the Middle East and other countries – one can’t not expect to remain viable, when so many are drawing from the well. Not only are those people taking from the well, they are not producing, which is the force that draws the wealth in to the well. This “idea” of a “Utopian” world is one that leads to collapse and after seeing it happen, time after time, one would think that we would have learned from other’s mistakes. Instead, we are repeating history and doing so at an unprecedented pace and volume.

        I hope, for my kids, your kids, our grandchildren and this country, that we can find a solution, that brings people together, instead of the politics that have splintered this country; especially, over the past 6 years. We are pressing the gas pedal, further and further, as we race towards an inpenetrable wall. They only thing that will reverse our course is “RESPONSIBILITY” and for those who appreciate and love this country, to return to the values that made this country the greatest to ever occupy this planet. Hard work and pulling one’s weight, while giving some to those who TRULY can’t, is the only hope we have and the forecast isn’t very bright. We need a leader or leaders, who recognize this and they don’t exist among the politcal crowd in Washington DC.

        I wish the best for all of you and the country that I took a bullet for and most of all, many have sacrificed their lives and health for. Let’s apply JFK’s words. Even though they were well before my time, they will never cease to define what made this country great. “Ask not what your country can do for you; but, ask what you can do for your country.”! What have you done for your country, today and what do you plan to do tomorrow.

        • First thank you for your service to our great country. I agree with you completely. I do like off my disability benefits that I receive from 14 surgeries 3 of them have been major back surgeries. But the younger generation has to start standing up for America they are our future leaders and they think they don’t need to work and become independent adults since the government keeps supporting them.

      • Social Security was NEVER meant to “live on”. It was meant to be a supplement to your savings. The government isn’t/wasn’t responsible for everything. Only the “entitled” in this country expect it all free. (and unfortunately GET IT!)

        • I HAVE to live off my $888.00 a month.
          My stepfather pays my rent but all else is up to me.
          I have: 18 back surgeries, 3 hip replacements, staph infection after EVERY one of them, MRSA after one with a month in ICU another in hospis, now breast cancer. It IS impossible to live on this. Even if I could go back to work know one would hire me & insure me.

      • If you were a low wage earner, worked off the books or didn’t have 35 or more years of work, you will get a small amount of social security at retirement. Your retirement benefit is based solely on the amount of your earning; so only blame yourself.

  1. Doesn’t matter how plain the talk is. I understood every word, but am still waiting over 3 months to get death benefits and upgraded monthly allowance due to my husband’s death.

    • Hi Virginia,
      My husband recently passed away about a month ago. I don’t know how to obtain his death certificate. Thought this process of getting his Military and retirement benefits would be easy. Can you provide any insight or assistance? It would be much appreciated.

      • I think the death certificate is issued when the funeral parlor reports the death to the state and to Social Security. It is supposed to be an automatic process. If a will has to be probabted, then the Register of Wills issues Short Certificates to appoint the executor, who can then set up Estate checking accounts, and move assets/investments, etc.

        • Martha, sorry for your loss and trouble you are having. Had to handle this for my grandparents and my mom when they passed. Most commonly the funeral home handles this…but try the office of the city clerk in the city where your husband passed away, as they do keep track of births and deaths there and can provide copies, usually for a small fee. Try calling the city hall of the hospital or other place your husband passed away. Hope things get easier.

      • Martha, If your husband was retired military, then you can contact the Personal Affairs office on the nearest military base. They can help you, or refer you to someone who can help you with any questions you have.

      • When I buried my Dad a few years ago, we got 10 copies of his Death Certif from the Funeral Director. You might try there. Your local Court House Records Dept would have the original, they will make you copies for a small fee. Do bring proof of who you are, even some of his personal records, some can be sticklers with no sense of your grief.

      • Hi Martha,
        You can contact the Disabled American Veterans who has qualified people, and your county should have a VA representative who will be qualified to process all of your paper work. If you don’t know where to find these you can ask at the VFW or American Legion. You are not alone, you just need to find these people that will help you.

      • I don’t think getting the death certificate is a big deal. How was he buried? The people who did the burial , the doctor, or even the police if it was a mysterious death, should be able to help you.

      • My husband passed away last march. The funeral home sent me the death certificate. Just do a search on the computer for death certificate in your county, city & state.

        • my husband died last nov. i got the death certificate within 1 wk. from funeral home.

          HOWEVER, it had an error on it; be sure to read what they died of carefully; they showed COLON cancer and it was LUNG and liver cancer.

          took me 5 months of constant naggng to get this corrected.

          also make sure they give you AMENDED copies FOR EACH YOU PAID $20 each for!! otherwise, they’ll try to get more money out of you.

          i got my $255 promptly death benefit.

          best wishes from 1 widow to another,

          bettyg, iowa

      • Yes, check w/the funeral home. They are supposed to report deaths….and can also get you extra certificates if you need them. Unfortunately, they don’t all do it in a timely manner. Get on THEM!

      • Hi Martha,
        I’m so sorry about your loss. My husband was retired military and passed away last year.
        You should be able to get your husband’s death certificate through the funeral home where you had his memorial service as the funeral home would have ordered the death certificates, and if they did not, you can always ask them to order the death certificates for a fee. If you are not able to get the death certificates from the funeral home, you should be able to contact the county recording office to get a death certificate and depending how quickly the country records information it would be available in 2-3 weeks. You should order multiple copies of the death certificate, probably at least 6 and pay the fees the county charges. From there you would need a copy of your husband’s discharge papers a DD form 214 (if your husband re-enlisted multiple times as my husband did, you should use the latest copy of his DD form 214, but any one will do) and you would need to complete all the paperwork and send it in along with a copy of the DD form 214 and original copy of the death certificate. If your husband was already receiving retirement benefits from DFAS you should also include a copy of his latest benefit statement. As long as your husband paid into the survivorship insurance and named you as a beneficiary, you would be eligible to receive survivorship benefits. A copy of his annuitant benefits page lists the information of his social security number, his monthly benefit and should show the information regarding the amount that is deducted for survivorship benefits and would have your name and social security number listed on that page. You can call Defense Finance & Accounting Service (DFAS) M-F from 8-5 pm (ET) at 888-332-7411 Option #1 for Military Retired & Annuitant Pay. Or you can go to the DFAS website to complete forms online. I don’t know if you are anywhere near a base (my husband was AF at Travis AFB) but many bases have a retirement center etc. that you can use as a resource to guide you through the steps but the key is to have all the necessary documents in hand so that you can complete the paperwork. You will also need to have a death certificate to apply for your husband’s social security benefits as typically a husband’s social security benefit is larger than his wife’s benefit because he is usually the higher wage earner. You would need to present his death certificate, your photo ID, original copy of your marriage certificate and complete the necessary forms at your local social security office. If you are already collecting your own social security benefit, you can still apply for your husband’s social security benefit if his benefit is larger than yours. You would have the option of taking the widow’s social security benefit or social security will just add a portion of his benefit to your own benefit so that the total combined amount does not exceed your husband’s social security benefit. You would also receive a one time death benefit payment from Social Security. If you own a home, you would need to change the title of your home from his name to your name assuming the title is in both your names under joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. Again you would need to present a death certificate to the county recorders office and complete the necessary paperwork. Keep in mind after you have submitted all the documents to DFAS it will still take a few months for the paperwork to be reviewed and processed. My husband died at the end of March 2014 and I received my first DFAS check in late May or early June 2014. Once you have been approved for benefits, DFAS will send you a letter informing you about your benefits, the amount of your benefits and when you may expect your first check. Again, I am sorry for your loss and wish you the best.

      • Your resident county department of vital statistics should be able to issue you one. There is usually a small fee and you have to have ID to show you are a relative. I got the ones for my brother from the funeral home and they got them from the county where my brother lived. In my mothers case I had to go to the county to get a copy of her death certificate. Sorry about your lost. I hope this helps you.

  2. there is only one agency of federal govt which isnt thoroly detestable in fact admirable and thats NASA
    All the rest are garbage ending with the very very worst which is the VA
    Soc sec is in the high middle

    • I am new to this blog. I have been reading nothing but complaints. I have found from personal experience (lately) that being grateful for what you have is much more productive than griping about what you don’t have.
      Plain talk, those who say they cannot live off $900 a month should cut back and give more to others. For to give is to receive. Try being grateful. What have you got to lose.

      Nobody is perfect, nor organization. Just try to image what USA would be like without a Government. Or what it would be like to live on zero 0, that $900 will feel like $9000 after being broke long enough. The ones who complain the most about its never enough or give us more, obviously have never been without or truly broke.

      Just a bit of unsolicited advise. It works for me and if you work it.

      God bless and keep us all! Thank you.

      • Hay Tee could you live on 520.00 that what they want me to do I have been disabled all my life and will be till I die

  3. How can you claims this when CNN just reported the following:

    The Social Security Administration has paid an estimated $1.3 billion in disability insurance payments to thousands of people who weren’t eligible for the benefits, a government watchdog report finds.

    • Which has nothing to do with the article. Which , if you missed it, is about how this agency is attempting to put the policy and benefit procedures in more lay terms, instead of hiding it all behind legal mumbo jumbo.

  4. Such wonderful flowery words…now try going into SS Office ! Waiting 3 hours , screaming babies, undisciplined little children,adults reeking of cigarette smoke or worse. After enduring this, nothing but attitude from the Clerk. What a horrid experience !

    • That is why learning to surf the net could come in handy. Or, hiring a representative to handle this for you.

      You may experience a 20 minute hold time on the phone but your at home and comfortable while waiting.

      People stop griping and start being proactive. There are usually more than one way to skin a cat. Learn from past mistakes and do it another way next time.

      If we are very honest, we cause the majority of our stress by complaining, being greedy or learning to live with little or much and being happy either way.

      The only way to have true peace and security is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. A part from Him, there will be no satisfaction.

      Read John 3:16, if you haven’t that would be the first, most important step in your life. The rest is all down hill from that point.

      God Bless and Keep us all!

  5. So many times disappointed in how my case has been determined. Giving the infomation to the people resposible for the interpretation of a persons case is sometimes put in the hands of people who care nothing about you. And it’s wrong that they have so much leverage. People tell me to lie to get what i need. Sorry, the truth should be enough.

    • Why depend on mere humans, if your a Christian, chosen by God, trust Him, not humans. Things will go much smoother. It worked for me, still does but one must give it away. To give is to receive.

      Hope this helps. Not offends. There is only One True Savior, God, Jesus Christ! Money is allot of peoples God. I used too be all about money and when I had none, all about griping and worrying. Once I let go and let God, I had no more slavery to money and things started to work out better than ever before. God’s Grace to you.

  6. Maryland Social security service for Food stamps and Medical help (2d floor) are irresponsible, they do not return phone calls, and work slowly with mistakes and make subjected decisions. You should check them by providing e-survey after phone calls, or services they provide as it is done by any reputable organization that want to know how they are doing. There are no accountability, and managers cover-up for their staff.
    On another hand, the Housing department (4th floor) is well organized, works via email, effective and responsive.

    • GOVERNMENT employees….what else would you expect? They have no “oversight”, their supervisors are as bad as they are. In private business, very few of them would be able to hold a job!

  7. i’d like to see improvements be made on ADULT LIST OF APPROVED IMPAIRMENTS FOR DISABILITY including a detailed section on:

    LYME/TICK disease and EACH of the vector-borne diseases ticks carry.

    lyme disease is mentioned in 14.09 but NO details whatsoever.

    also,since ssdi/dds drs. do NOT see us physically, i don’t see how their opinions are given PRIORITY over the specialists and our own drs. who have thoroughly examined us but DIDN’T write down everything in our medical records.

    took me 5 yrs. of hell and 2 ssdi apps to be approved. my medical records sent to you were at least 2.5 – 3″ thick!

    bettyg, iowa lyme disease activist

    • Excellent point there, about the “expert testimony from so called doctors that have never touched some and, secondly, your so correct about the records not being recorded honestly or in their factual complete state. I know from experience, doctors do what they want to, if they do not want to get involved with potential issues such as law suits or they do not want to take on challenges that make them have to work harder or testify for their long term patients. They omit and avoid, regardless of how this destroys what they are trying to treat. US! Not all doctors, attorneys, police or even governments are bad but the majority are miserable and lost. Getting saved and building a serious relationship with Jesus is the solution to all our issues. Saving faith will be like saving for retirement. Accept retirement with God is never ending bliss.
      God Bless you all!

  8. I worked at an Ind. School District for 20 years. I got caught at the time of the LOOP hole. I retired and didn’t get any S/s until I was a widow. I was 75 years old. Was told I couldn’t draw both (any of my husbands.) I didn’t have enough quarters. Others that I knew went to Schools that paid S/s and could get some from their spouce at age 62+. And say they retired from that school by working there one day.
    NOT FAIR AT ALL. I still get only 1/3 of what my husband got before death drew.

  9. Come on everybody. Because there isn’t enough money doesn’t mean social security deserves all the frustration. SSI is even worse, but that doesn’t change the fact that social security people are no longer speaking in legalese.

    SS employees can still be caring. Still be competent. The award is deserved and so is respect; what isn’t deserved is computer hacks for personal records.

    Even social security employees and officials might like complements. And I can say this without telling you that you have enough money. They are two separate issues, and I don’t think the same people are necessarily responsible.

    So congratulations on the award and sympathy on poverty or inadequate income or any other hardships to all of us.

  10. i am a mother of three children from my first marriage and one from my second marriage. Now when my divorce came final I was wandering if I am entitled to some compensation from him for his three children. He didn’t give child support support. My youngest was five at the time, the next one was eleven and the last one was fifth teen. He passed away in the year of 2010. He was born 6/2/1954.
    Please give me an answer.



    I remarried in the year 1991

    • To my knowledge, his children should get benefits until the age of 18, and you as their mother would also receive benefits until the last child is 18. That you remarried might negate YOURS, but the children should receive theirs. You need to talk to them…..good luck. You have a computer, do it on line.

  11. To continue: has of today I am collecting money from SSD. I started collecting SSD since I believe November of 2011, which I started the paper and May when I got my first check of 2011.

  12. Social Security has been the easist Agency to deal with, as well as the most trustworthy.
    I retired at 62 but kept working part time. SS took the correct amounts I owed each year.
    My wife started SS at her retirement age but kept working. They adjusted her payment each year and increased her payment based on monies paid into SS.
    Keep up the good work SSA .

  13. Rah, SSA; keep it up! We appreciate it. I am pleased if surprised that someone is reading and judging the quality of the material that federal agencies issue. I agree entirely with this award to the SSA; when I received my first piece of paper from the Administration a decade ago, I found it remarkable in idirectness and clarity. Everything from SSA since has met the same standard. As I once wrote for a living, I know just how hard it is to craft those kind of messages. And as I once worked in a bureaucracy, I know how hard it is to set internal standards and procedures to ensure that ALL of an agency’s output meets so lofty a standard. But SSA’s success in this pursuit gives me confidence that it can be done by any agency that decides to be serious about the 2010 law — except for IRS, whose raw material is Congressional language consciously crafted to conceal the true intent and effect of much tax legislation. As for complaints in other posts about SSA’s field offices, it’s very clear to all their customers that they are too few in number and that each of them is seriously understaffed, but my experience has been that the folks behind the counters are knowledgeable and dedicated. Thanks to them for their service to us.

    • Thank you for your feedback, John! Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive. We try hard to provide the best possible service to our customers and your satisfaction is our reward.

  14. I truly appreciate the time and effort you have taken to make SSDI AND SSA easily understood. I have enjoyed surfing the site for information, applying online for my benefits and being approved within four months. Easy process for me. Thank you again and congratulations on the award.

    • Thanks for your feedback Elizabeth! We value your opinion of us and look forward to many more years of serving you in the future.

  15. I applied for disability in Dec after my eye doctor declared me to be legally blind due to advanced retinitis pigmentosa,I have less than 20% of my peripheral vision left and there is no known treatment or cure. I had continued to work after 2 heart attacks and 3 stints and also had 4 feet of my bowels removed and was fitted with an ostomy bag due to diverticulitis and a ruptured bladder which caused sepsis . But when I could no longer see to drive I could no longer find work . After waiting 6 months I was told they had made a decision on my case but it sent to quality review and would take them 60 more days to review their decision . I called my case worker 3 times and left messages to please call me I had questions about onset dates and to give new contact information. I have never received a call back. I am 51 years old an have worked every year since I was 18 years old. I made sure they had all my medical records when I filed my claim. I also know my eye condition is on social securities list of sensory disabilities and they are very specific about visual impairments you have to meet one of two, means deviation of -22 or greater in your better eye mine is -25 in my best eye or 20% or less of your peripheral vision which I have less than 20% left. I just think the system is very inefficient and very difficult to get answers . Thank you for allowing my comment.

  16. My mother just passed away on June 1. I called SS the day after her funeral to report her death. I asked at that time if her benefits she received on June 3 had to be returned and they told me no because what she received in June was for the prior month. Well, of course when I checked her account the money was gone, taken back by SS. She obviously was entitled to May benefits since she lived the full month. I read the publication on and it basically said the same thing. Example: If the person dies in July, you must return the benefits paid in August. My mother died in June so if we were to receive JULY benefit we would have to return, not June. Why did they take it back and how do I get it back to her account?

    • We are sorry to hear of your loss, Kathy. In some instances, the financial institution will automatically return payments upon notification of the beneficiary’s death, but you are right, Social Security benefits are paid the month after they are due. Based on the date of death, your mother was due the June 3 payment. We may pay amounts due a deceased beneficiary to a family member or legal representative of the estate. See Claim For Amounts Due In The Case Of Deceased Beneficiary – Form SSA-1724 for more information. Please take or send the completed form to your local Social Security office. If you have any questions, call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week.

  17. What I received is not plain talk. I have two letters from SSA which are confusing, and apparently misleading. The first, dated May 14th, says that the next check that I receive for my son will be $86 and that after that it will be $234. The second, dated June 4th, says that they used $148 from my son’s benefits to recover an overpayment. But what is actually happening? They paid nothing on June 3rd in this concept and the $86 will be paid July 2nd and in August I should receive $234.

    The second letter says that they used $148 to recover an overpayment but so far they have taken $234 and in July they will take $148 which totals $382.

    The second letter clearly states that they used $148 to recover all of an overpayment, but if they follow through on the payments July 2nd and August 3rd, I will end up losing $382. Neither of the letters says that. So much for plain talk.

    • Robert, sorry for the confusion the letters caused. Unfortunately your problem is a bit more than we can handle in this forum. For your security, we do not have access to information about overpayments on accounts in this venue. If you’ve been informed of an overpayment, we ask that you work with your local field office. For more information and to learn about appeal and waiver rights, please read our Overpayments publication.

    • Hi Joan. Government Pension Offset reduces spouse’s or surviving spouse’s benefits if you receive a pension from a government job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes. No changes have been made to these provisions since they were enacted in 1977. You may find the most recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report useful for additional information.

  18. Will someone tell me this….what if I did not sign up for direct deposit when I applied, will I get a paper check? I called ssa and was told that it was too soon to sign up for direct deposit. However, they also told me my claim is a the payment center for processing.

    I sure hope this will not delay my benefits, if it does, why would ssa not let me sign up for the direct deposit to avoid and delays?

    Thanks in advance for replies.

    • We apologize for the confusion, Tee. We prefer to send payments to your bank or financial institution through direct deposit, however we first wait for the payment center to finishing establishing your payment record. Typically, we do not send paper checks anymore, but in situations like yours, we may send your first payment by mail, so it is very important that your mailing address is correct, and that there is no information about an old closed bank account in our records. To verify the information on your records, you can call us toll free at 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Or you can continue working with your local Social Security office. Once your payment record is established and after you receive your initial payment by mail, you can go ahead and establish your direct deposit and manage your benefits online using a my Social Security account. Thank you for your patience and understanding; we hope this helps!

  19. How much will congress pay be raise ? I bet it will be much more than the 1.5 % cost living allowance we are receiving.
    They should cut congress pay by 15 % and that would balance the budget.

    • Andrea, you can apply for Social Security retirement benefits when you are at least 61 years and 9 months of age AND if want your benefits to start in the following three months. We calculate and establish your payment amount based on when you file for your benefits, and our system is only set up to take applications three months in advance. You can use our Online Retirement Estimator to give you estimates on your future retirement benefits. You can also create a my Social Security account to review your benefit estimates, earnings record, and the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.

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  21. I plan on file next year when I am 62. I understand I can earn up to 15,700, the question is my wife still has 11 before she can file, does the money she earn affect my ss payment?

    • Hi Robert. No, the money that your wife earns will not affect your Social Security retirement benefits. We count only the wages you make from your job or your net earnings if you’re self-employed. The earnings limit for beneficiaries under full retirement age is $15,720 in 2015. This amount can change every year, and the earnings limit amount for 2016 is not yet available. We will post the 2016 information on our website when we receive it. Please see our publication How Work Affects Your Benefits for more information.

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  23. The Department of Verterans is really bad and we think
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    • Hi, Barbara. Generally, we return your documents in a separate mailing. Also, there should be a local phone number on your receipt, for you to call and follow up if necessary. We hope this helps.

  24. hi someone has stole my social security card i am soon to be 78 dec2nd.i am also a lyrangectonee(no voice box)other than my age I am in good health.i would like to add a code just in case it got stolen again an some one try’s uses my card.they should be arreated right then on the spot or you can send me a new medicare card that would take care of both my medicare cars is old…my name Virginia H. I donot talk verbley,i write what I need to say.have been with out a voice box over 40 yrs…thank you for your assistance.

    • Hi Virginia. We do not have access to personal information, therefore, we do not do direct messaging in this venue.
      You can get a Medicare replacement card by using your online my Social Security account. Also, realize that you may not need a replacement Social Security card. You will rarely need to show it. Knowing your Social Security number is what is important. To see if you’re eligible to apply for a replacement Social Security card online or to learn more on the process and what documents you will need to get a card, please visit our “New or Replacement Social Security Number and Card” web page. We hope this helps!
      Just a reminder – please be cautious about posting personal information on social media and communicating personal information via email.

  25. I was approved disability Nov 30 2017,today is March 3rd I haven’t received no payment or reward letter, what do I do,I was told by disability lawyer I should receive my first payment in January 2018,its now March 2018 no reward letter or payment, can some one tell me what to do

  26. Can you tell me if my benefit amount will change if I decide to stop working at age 62, but start taking my social security benefits at age 66 years, 8 months?
    The statement that I received today estimates that I could earn a specific amount if I retire at this age. But I wish to learn if this same estimated amount will decrease if I stop working at age 62, but start collecting social security at age 66 years, 8 months. (I already have more than 40 years of work history.)

  27. I was married for 25 years he is down dead I am 60 He got disability just before he died. At one time I was told I could get 1600.00 a month because he was a accountant now I don’t know can you please tell me. his name his Kenneth F Strickland 1/15/1954
    Are do I need a appointment

    • Hello! As a widow of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can start receiving reduced benefits as early as age 60 (age 50 if disabled). The benefit amount would be based on the earnings record of your deceased husband. The more he paid into Social Security, the higher the benefit amount would be.
      At this time, we do not offer an online application for survivors benefits. We cannot tell you how much your benefit will be until you apply for your widow’s benefits.
      If you want to apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You can speak to a Social Security representative between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also contact your local Social Security office. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting to speak to someone.
      We hope this information helps!

  28. When a husband passes away, a wife can draw on her husband’s SS, if it is more. Correct?
    If a wife dies, can the husband draw on his wife’s SS if it is more?

  29. My husband passed away in 2018. My tax person said I should be able to receive his benefits. Is this true and how do I go about doing this?

    • Hi Joanne, thanks for using our blog. If your husband worked long enough under Social Security, there may be benefits payable to survivors. You may be eligible for reduced widows benefits as early as age 60 (age 50 if disabled) and at any age if caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled and receiving benefits on the deceased’s record. Survivor benefit amounts are based on your husband’s earnings. The more he paid into Social Security, the higher the benefits would be. The benefits will not be established automatically, you will have to contact us. For additional information, visit our Survivors Planner.

  30. I think I lost last e mail from When I tried to find on page ssa I had message that it is not working day.
    I am afraid it was something important. Because I still am not able to find it, please inform me what was it.
    I will come to USA by the end of march this year and may be I should come to talk.
    One is for sure: my password is not valid any more. I did forget to change.
    Thank you very much answer.
    sicerely Maria Koniarski

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