General

You Don’t Need A Magic 8 Ball To Find The Answers To Your Questions

February 16, 2016 • By

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

picture of an 8 ballSometimes, finding answers to your questions on government websites can feel a lot like asking questions of a Magic 8 Ball™. That’s not the case with Social Security’s frequently asked questions.

In 2015, Social Security won the “ClearMark Award of Distinction” for best plain language websites and documents from the Center for Plain Language for our redesigned Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) website. We continue to improve our communications to provide you with clear, helpful information and easy access to our services.

We recently narrowed down our FAQs from more than 500 to less than 200. The newly revised FAQs are more clear and concise. You come to our website for immediate answers, not a long drawn out experience. We’re all busy, right?

Social Security wants our online content and our communications with you to be accurate and easily accessible. We want you to locate the information you’re looking for faster than a magician could wave his wand. We are constantly searching for ways to improve navigation throughout our online presence and use feedback from your comments and suggestions when making changes to our website.

Visit our new FAQ home page to find the answer to your question. We promise that with our award-winning site, you won’t get the result reply hazy, try again later. When it comes to getting an answer, you’ll find out that your outlook is good.

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About the Author

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications

Comments

  1. Susan A.

    What is Obama planning for Soc.Sec. on May 16th?

    • Marc

      Obama is not “planning” anything for Social Security in May 2016 or any time. Your wonderful Congressmen introduced and voted in a law changing a provision of Social Security that used to allow married couples to maximize the amount of benefits they collected which certain Congresspersons considered a “loophole” that allowed for “double dipping.” Their law closed that alleged loophole so that couples will no longer be able to do that. It’s not worth explaining all the nitty gritty now as it’s a done deal but I am commenting because I’m so weary of people constantly blaming the President for every thing they hear about that sounds like something negative. It’s particularly irritating when said complainers don’t even know the simplest facts about how our government works; i.e., the famous system of “Checks and Balances” guaranteed by the three independent branches of government made up of the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches which each have separate roles. Congress is the Legislative branch. “Legislation” is the process of making laws; therefore Congress makes the laws. The President doesn’t make law nor pass law, he only signs laws that have been passed in final form by both branches of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives), both of which have had a Republican majority since 2014. He does have the option of vetoing a law sent to him for signature but Congress can then override the President’s veto and make it law anyway. That is how our government works in a nutshell. It’s frankly astonishing how many Americans must have been ditching school the week they discussed this in 8th grade.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question. You may be referring to the “The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” (BBA) which was signed into law recently. Section 831 of the BBA eliminates aggressive claiming loopholes related to “deemed” filing and voluntary suspension of benefits. The new law will be implemented on a prospective basis only. Our legislative and policy staffs are diligently working with Congress to analyze the intent of the legislation and update our instructions. Please check back for updates.

  2. Susan A.

    What is Pres. Obama planning for Soc.Sec. on May 16th?

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question. You may be referring to the “The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” (BBA) which was signed into law recently. Section 831 of the BBA eliminates aggressive claiming loopholes related to “deemed” filing and voluntary suspension of benefits. The new law will be implemented on a prospective basis only. Our legislative and policy staffs are diligently working with Congress to analyze the intent of the legislation and update our instructions. Please check back for updates.

  3. David. B.

    What is suppose to happen to social. Security in May 2016, something president Obama signed into law.
    Thank you for answering.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question. You may be referring to the “The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” (BBA) which was signed into law recently. Section 831 of the BBA eliminates aggressive claiming loopholes related to “deemed” filing and voluntary suspension of benefits. The new law will be implemented on a prospective basis only. Our legislative and policy staffs are diligently working with Congress to analyze the intent of the legislation and update our instructions. Please check back for updates.

      • Jan

        Could you please explain what you mean by the following: The new law will be implemented on a prospective basis only. Not sure I understand what you mean by that statement. Thank you.

  4. Argelia D.

    I’m trying to create a “My Social Security Account”. I filled out the form. When I got to the security part and it asked for the last 8 numbers of a credit card ( one of 3 credit cards only) no debit cards. Now I ask, so if I do not have a credit card, I don’t get to have a Social Security Account? I could not find an option for, I don’t have a credit card. I only have a debit card. Help?

    • George

      Something is wrong. They didn’t ask me for credit card #, only my SS # and some other personal info. Check to make sure you are on the real Social Security website. Good luck

    • Ray F.

      Hi Argelia, to create an account, you must provide some personal information about yourself and give us answers to some questions that only you are likely to know. If you select the extra security option, then you are required to provide the last eight digits of your credit card number for further verification. We encourage you to try again. If you continue to have problems when trying to create an account, please call 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. After you hear “Briefly tell me why you are calling,” say “Help Desk” for help with a my Social Security account. Thank you for using our online services!

  5. Thomas C.

    Why is so hard to find local Social Security offices near me. The site only list the main office and none of the branch offices. Why ?

    • Tammy

      Hello, Mr. Coyle. If I may ask for your zipcode, I could locate the address and phone number of your local field office. Thank you.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Thomas, you can use our Social Security Office Locator to find the nearest Social Security office in your area. Also remember that you can conduct business with us online.

  6. Eldora M.

    I am 74 and my husband is 75, dying of cancer. I have also been totally deaf since age 5. i was told i would not get any widows benefits upon my husbands death due to the fact that I worked for the State of Colorado for 20 years. I will not get any of his pension either. Prior to that I have worked under SS for approx 20 years. Can someone explain to me why i wont get any widows benefit? I cannot hear on the phone so please email me Thanks.

    • Lorraine G.

      Hi Eldora, sorry to hear of the things you are going through . Call the FTC and tell them your situation.They will give you the number of the person to talk to. It could be because of the state you are in . Hope this information helps.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Eldora. A provision called the Government Pension Offset may reduce your Social Security spouses or widows benefits, if you receive a pension from a federal, state, or local government based on work for which you didn’t pay Social Security taxes. Your own Social Security benefit can be reduced based on the Windfall Elimination Provision. For more information, go to our “Frequently Asked Questions” web page.
      Also, we want to let you know that Social Security is committed to communicating effectively with the public, which includes providing meaningful access to all SSA activities, programs, facilities, and services to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you need to contact us, you can call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

  7. jj

    Your emails are annoying. “Find Answers to your Questions”?, good luck. I tried very hard to get an answer from the SSA about the divorced person’s rights to collect their portion of ex spouses social security from the website and from a phone call to SSA. No help at all in untangling that.

    • Ray F.

      Hi JJ. Please visit our Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced to find the information you need.

      • Victor H.

        Your RIGHT!
        I asked about a bill that was passed in congress that supposedly ends payment ..if you do not sign up for them by may 2016..while this guy ‘s got his picutre here talking about helping us…oh..really..then why not answer the questions..about how can we get the forms for that..fill them out and mail them back..and why are you not tell us our Rights! You sent me this email like your doing a wonderful job yet ..I am wondering. Why not E-mail the form?or tell us where we can find the forms or give us a phone number to direct us to its location…what is this a scam!!!

      • Victor H.

        Your RIGHT!
        I asked about a bill that was passed in congress that supposedly ends payment ..if you do not sign up for them by may 2016..while this guy ‘s got his picutre here talking about helping us…oh..really..then why not answer the questions..about how can we get the forms for that..fill them out and mail them back..and why are you not tell us our Rights! You sent me this email like your doing a wonderful job yet ..I am wondering. Why not E-mail the form?or tell us where we can find the forms or give us a phone number to direct us to its location…what is this a scam!!!

        • Connie D.

          Yes, I was wondering about this “don’t lose $4000” when the law changes on May 1, 2016. Is this a scam or do I need to get to a SS office??

      • Pat

        Mr. Fernandez, I have been divorced over 10 yrs., will be 66 in Aug., 2016. My ex-husband will be 62 early April, 2016. I have read “Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced” and everything else I can get my hands on and cannot find the answer that fits my situation. I’m older than my ex-husband, so when I’m 66 and he’s 62, I want to put in a restricted application to delay my income and file strictly for half of his benefits. I want to let mine build up until I’m age 70 and then switch to mine (if it’s more). Is it possible to do that with this new law after April 30, 2016? I am desperate for a specific answer to my situation. When I called and got an estimate, I found out later the agent’s estimate of half my ex-husband’s benefits, if multiplied by two (his whole), equaled more than the maximum amount of benefit available in 2016–so how can that be correct? I read a sentence that implies one thing then I read something else that contradicts it or only answers referring to the current spouse, not the ex-spouse. Thank you for having this blog so that we may ask specific questions.

        • Ray F.

          Based on the information you provided, you will be able to restrict your own application and file for divorced spouse benefits. This is primarily because you were 62 years old prior to January 2, 2016. Please see: Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, and our Retirement Planner: Deemed Filing – Frequently Asked Questions page for more information. Hope this helps.

          • Very u.

            I am baffled by the lack of ease of finding any information or even accurate information on the ssa.gov website. To start, I downloaded the application to do a name change from maiden name to now my new married name. There was nothing on the website that said in clear bold ink that I needed a marriage certificate, just that I needed a government photo id..so I took my new passport showing my married name and my driver’s license showing my maiden name—-BOTH HAVE MY PICTURE ON THEM—BOTH ARE U.S. GOVERNMENT ISSUED DOCUMENTS. Went to the Jamaica location packed—NO WHERE TO PARK… —Went to MINEOLA –GREAT PARKING and only 3 people in line!!!! I was told at the counter after they looked at my forms that I needed to bring my marriage certificate… and they could not accept the 2 photo id’s. Today I made another trip down to the MINEOLA OFFICE ON LONG ISLAND NEW YORK… To be told that because my ADDRESS IS IN QUEENS… THEY CANT SERVICE ME IN MINEOLA!!!!!!!!!!!! NOWHERE ON YOUR WEBSITE DOES IT SAY THIS!!!!!! WHAT A SCAM … LIKE YOU ARE NOT BOTH GOVERNMENT OFFICES??? YOU HANDLE THE SAME FORMS, USE THE SAME WEBSITE, TAKE THE SAME FEES, so you mean to tell me that the ssa.gov department would rather have 5000 people in line in their queens, brooklyn office, rather than allow people to disperse and even out the work load amongst other offices??? Where is the fairness in that. And, so if I work out on Long Island, and took time off my lunch to go in and get this done, I physically NEED TO TAKE A DAY OFF to go to the Jamaica office??? WHERE IS THE SENSE IN THAT??? WHERE IS THE CONVENIENCE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC???

          • Ray F.

            Hi! We congratulate you on your marriage and sincerely apologize for any confusion. Generally, you can visit any of our offices to obtain the services related to programs administered by Social Security. However, in some areas of the country, individuals must visit a “Card Center” to obtain an original or a replacement Social Security card. In order to enhance public service and strengthen the integrity of the Social Security Number, the Social Security Administration opened the Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan Social Security Card Centers. These are the only Social Security Offices in New York where residents of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan can apply for an original Social Security Number or for a replacement card.
            In order to change your name on your Social Security card, you must show us a document that proves your legal name change. An original copy of your marriage certificate or a certified copy, along with a picture ID should be enough proof to process your request. If the document you provide as evidence of a legal name change does not give us enough information to identify you in our records, you must show us an identity document in your new and old name (as shown in our records). We can understand how this can be frustrating for you, but we hope you understand our role in protecting your identity. Thanks!

          • Very u.

            p.s. where can I lodge a formal complaint???

          • Ray F.

            To submit your comment, complaint or suggestion, you can write to us or send us an email message. Thanks.

  8. don

    I am on ssdi. I was wondering if I could try to work and if not possible get ssdi back with any red tape

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your comment. Social Security strongly supports those individuals who want to return to the work force while supplementing their disability benefit income. We have Work Incentives that allow people to work and still receive their benefits. A person may still be eligible for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program if they work. However, their earnings cannot exceed a certain amount. This is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit. In 2016, the SGA limit is $1,130 per month (or $1,820 for blind applicants). In addition to the amount of money you make, Social Security may also look at the number of hours you’re able to work. We hope this information helps.

  9. Tammy g.

    Hello my name is Tammy graves I moved into a room by a mother in law I have many crippling allements I tried to get around and get things and I tried to do my laundry I did not know who to get a hold of to help me , well acter 2 yrs living there and paying $450. A month for a bedroom I then was in so much pain I was violated my privacy this women was in my bedroom soon as I woke up always vacuuming in my room washing the door I had no privacy paying for my own room I was there under extreme stress unable to get out or get help all the while she took my money told me I could eat her food when she seen I had more bad days then good I was then told I better go somewhere or she would evict me I left this apt 11/16 15 been staying on friends couches two friends then finally I got me an apt $545 plus a light bill a month I feel this women uses people hurts people get your money then throws you to the road all my things are there I can’t get my stuff out but she isn’t in a hurry when I did finally get a storage she said I couldn’t take my bed I was under so much stress before I moved in and all my belongs was in her apt she went through everything and re-box it I just feel this women should be punish in some way I just don’t know how I would of never moved in if I would have known she was this way. Do I have rights

  10. Akpan O.

    How do I find out what is in my Social Security account?

    • adewale s.

      how to get regester for socal security and received code send to ; adeprincekolu@yahoo.com

    • Ray F.

      Hello Akpan Okon. You can create a my Social Security account and view you earnings Statement online at any time. With this online account, you also can get estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, and the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.

      • Christina P.

        Who can help my to fight the government taking 90 percent of social securty with 268.10 to live off for 6 years

        • JERRY B.

          HOW DO I APPLY OR CAN I APPLY FOR SSI?

          • Jenna Y.

            Thanks for your question. If you meet certain requirements, you can file for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and disability applications online at the same time. To see the requirements in order to apply for SSI online, visit our previous blog post. During the initial application process, we take applications for both programs. Disability benefits are paid based on a person’s past work activity and earnings, while the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a needs based program that pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits. If you have specific questions and need to call us, you can call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday but you will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. We hope this helps!

          • Tammy

            Do my benefits increase or decrease if i get married at the age 45

          • Ray F.

        • mike d.

          you should of paid your taxes then you would not be in the jam that you are

    • chris

      im 18 years younger than my husband who is 71 and im 53 . He is divorcing me after 28 years . How can I collect on his ssi as I was a stay at home mom throughout the marriage.

      • Ray F.

        Hi Chris. Generally, a divorced spouse may be able to receive benefits on the ex-spouse’s record starting at age 62 or older. Here are the requirements to receive benefits if you are divorced:
        • You are unmarried;
        • You were married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years;
        • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits and,
        • The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.

        For more important information, please read our publication, “What Every Woman Should Know”. Thanks!

    • Sheila L.

      We are changing banks I need to know how I go about changing bank numbers

      • Sheila L.

        I need to know about changing my account number for new bank account for automatic deposits for myself and my husband. I cannot find anything on this site to
        help me

        • Ray F.

          Thanks for contacting us, Sheila. Individuals receiving Social Security benefits (retirement, survivors, or disability), can start or update their direct deposit information, by creating a my Social Security account. See our Frequently Asked Questions web page for more information. Just as a reminder, you may only change your own information. You cannot change your husband’s information without his consent. We hope this helps!

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