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

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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66 thoughts on “You Don’t Need A Magic 8 Ball To Find The Answers To Your Questions

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

  1. 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

    • 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.

  2. 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.

      • 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!!!

        • 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??

      • 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.

          • 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???

          • 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!

  3. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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 ?

  5. 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?

    • 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

    • 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!

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  7. I’m disabled and nearest very bad depression and anxiety I have applied for Social Service disability and I turn down. April 2015 so I appealed it in June of 2015 I’ve heard nothing …I dont understand for what reason I’m being turned down. Is a possibility my bankruptcy has interfered with me getting mine disability? I really need help and can’t work In my bankruptcy they have taken my home $225,000 and never gave me one dime!! They also physically remove me knowing that I have no money to move and my disability hinders me from packing and moving without help which they were given an explanation by my doctor in a letter. Is there anything I can do about the abuse they have put upon me and now I’m homeless this house they took from me was 1/2 mine the other half my mother when she passed away it became all of mine. I am devastated I have been in bankruptcy now since September 11th 2013 and I was discharged December 10th 2013 and now they’re trying to take away my discharge and I have no lawyer no money and no home!

    • You need to go to a Legal Services program for legal representation. Find a good social security disability representative to help with your disability.

    • SSI is the new welfare. Once the welfare runs out, they make an appointment with the psychiatrist/psychologist and complain about depression and anxiety to get disability. The doctors will diagnosed them with some type of mental impairment because they need the money. The doctors will have them coming back for treatment every month. There are millions of people claiming depression and anxiety. These people don’t want to work and are so desperate that they will check themselves into a mental institution to get approved.

      You are new to the game and need help from a social security attorney or non-attorney representative. They will get their doctors or yours to do an RFC and list all your restrictions and limitations.

      • This is so incredibly wrong that it’s almost not even worth answering but here goes. First, SS I is welfare for extremely low income disabled persons. The SSA administers the program but the money does not come from the Social Security fund. SSDI is a completely separate program which has n I connection whatsoever with SSI. It is insurance paid into by people who worked all their lives and who became totally disabled and unable to work at all at any job. The rules are very strict and no one, certainly not “millions” of people who “don’t want to work” gets SSDI with a doctor’s note claiming they have some bogus mental problem. One has to have worked the required number of hours within recent years before becoming disabled to even be qualified to apply. The disability has to be one that has or is expected to last at least one year or result in desrh. The process to apply is extremely complicated and difficult and over half of all applicants are denied on the first pass. Each person must be examined by an independent doctor who specializes in whatever ailment the applicant is claiming and that determines whether or not you’re approved, not a note from your doctor. You have to provide all your medical records from every medical provider you’ve ever seen for this condition meaning it has to be thoroughly documented. I seriously doubt if any doctor would spend the time to writeup years of false information documenting years of false treatments that didn’t happen since its hardb enough to get them to fill out a form for your health insurance company even, much less go to all that trouble to commit a serious felony and risk prison time so a lazy person can get a lousy $1100 a month in benefits. You either have no idea what you’re talking about or you’re deliberately spreading blatantly false information. The true facts, including a list of every condition that is a qualified disability and all the numerous requirements for each, is right here on this website. And the process even if someone is approved take a year and sometimes even 2 or 3.

  8. How do I make an in person appointment in my local office? I would like to apply my retirement benefits. The number of the local office, 1 (866) 495- 0088, is not answered by a person and will not put my call thru without my having the name of the person I am calling.

    Any suggestions on how to set up an in person appointment? Thank you.

    • Thank you for using our blog, Tarrill. You can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment with 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, it also establishes a protective filing date. However, you can right now complete the online application for your Social Security retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes. It’s so easy, you can apply from the comfort of your home or office at a time most convenient for you. Representatives at our toll-free number are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. They can assist you with your application online. Generally, it’s best if you call later in the day or later in the week.

  9. I’m waiting to talk to some one. Mom died yesterday. You don’t a specific number to call to discontinue bennifits? this ludacous.

    • Hi Jean. We are sorry for your loss. Typically, the funeral director notifies us of an individual’s passing by sending the deceased person’s death certificate to the local Social Security office. However, you may report the death of your mom’s passing by calling 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. To be eligible for a Social Security benefit payment, a person has to live throughout the entire month. If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death or any later months. Keep in mind that Social Security benefits are paid the month after they are due. For example, if the person dies in February, you must return the benefit paid in March. Thank you.

  10. I have pending my case here in Puerto Rico I like to know when is the date to see my virtual conference case in Mayaguez I’m wait for two long years without salary for my conditions. In this time last 6 months are impossible to receive Psicological Attention for my Actual Economy Situation is Impossible to have the money to pay the treatment.All Medical and Psicologic Conditions are going bad in Progress.

    • Thank you for your question, Francisco. The length of time it takes to get a hearing can vary from state to state. We attempt to resolve all claims promptly, but there may be delays due to the volume of pending appeals in your area. Please continue working with your local hearing office on specific questions about your case. While you wait you may want to check and see if you are eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include medical assistance, and help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services or welfare office.

    • Generally, we’ll need a statement from your doctor if you would like to become your own payee. The statement should say that you are now mentally and physically able to take care of yourself and that you are able to keep your finances in order. Please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives. You can also contact your local Social Security office. For more information, visit our “FAQs For Beneficiaries Who Have A Payee” web page. Thanks!

  11. I can’t get my husband’s (deceased) Social Security because I retired from the City of Springfield — why? Immigrants coming into the country get Social Security payments without paying into it — Why??? Waiting time is horrendous for answers and solutions. Is it easier to put up with the abuse of some instead of weeding them out and penalize those who are obeying the law and are hurt by this? Disgusted here.

    • False again. First, are you asking about getting survivor’s benefits from your husband’s Social Security retirement or was he on Social Security Disability (SSDI)? They aren’t remotely related. If you’re wanting survivor’s benefits. A spouse receives half of what the deceased spouse was receiving and he already had to have filed for benefits before he died. And they give you either your own benefit IF YOU’RE ELIGIBLE or his survivor’s amount whichever is the larger amount. You do not get both. Government workers are not eligible for Social Security because they don’t pay in as they have a separate government retirement pension plan. And no “immigrants” do NOT collect one dime of Social Security if they have not paid into the system, no one does. If you want to complain you should at least complain about something that is actually true.

  12. why does a SSD medical expert, that went to a inferior school, interned at a inferior hospital, and gets paid $290,000 per year by SSD, carry more weight than the treating physician?

    • Hi Linda. The length of time it takes to begin receiving payments after receiving a favorable decision in a hearing varies. Approved claims are randomly selected for a quality assurance review of the decision. We care about our customers and are working as fast as we can. For security reasons, we do not have access to information about your account in this venue. In your situation, we encourage you to contact your local office or call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and speak to one of our representatives. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00a.m. and 7:00p.m. Thanks!

  13. My husband (deceased 2 years ago) worked for the Commonwealth of MA and I worked (retired) for the City of Springfield, MA. I cannot get his Social Security payments due to this — why?

    • Hi Sandra. A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies) can affect the amount of your Social Security benefits. Your benefits can be affected based on one of two provisions. Widow’s benefits under Social Security may be affected by the Government Pension Offset. 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. Thanks.

  14. How will a $10,000 a year increase in my wages for the last 5 years I work effect my benifits? For the past 10 years my income has varired from 40-45,000 a years.
    I just got a raise that will put my income in the 55-60,000 range. I’m planning to retire in about 5 years.

    • Good question Gerald. The amount of the Social Security benefit you receive is established at the time you apply for Retirement Benefits. It is based on the amount of your average lifetime earnings and your age at the time you apply. Generally, we use the highest years of earnings to calculate your monthly benefit amount. You can use our online calculator where you can test various scenarios and retirement ages to estimate your benefits. You can also create a my Social Security account to review estimates of your retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, your earnings record, and the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid. We hope this information helps.

  15. We received a notice that our benefits would not change. The next thing we see both of our checks are reduced. Any idea why?

    • Unfortunately and because of security reasons we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot answer your question at this time. One of our representatives should be able to provide you with an explanation and answer questions about this matter. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 Monday to Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or visit your local Social Security office for further assistance. Thanks!

    • Hi Marilyn. The best way to accomplish your business with Social Security online is by creating a personal my Social Security account. You can use my Social Security to get a proof of benefits letter, change your address or phone number on our records, start or change your direct deposit, and check your benefit and payment information.

  16. I have a change in income and can’t find anywhere on the ss website to update this. I can’t make it to the office to update this info and I am also hearing impaired, so I can’t use a phone to call.

    Could anyone please tell me how to update this info online?

  17. My son is mentally disabled. His only income is disability social security. He borrowed some money from a bank, and is late on the payments. The bank, just now, took all that was in his checking account. This leaves him without money for food and other bills. Is this legal?

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