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Social Security: Questions and answers

Social Security
Questions and answers

Question: We adopted a baby girl overseas and brought her home with us to the United States. We need to get a Social Security number for her. What do we do?
Answer: In general, to apply for a Social Security number for your child you must:
* Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5) for your child, which you can find online at;
* Show us documents proving your child's:
o U.S. citizenship or immigration status;
o Adoption;
o Age; and
o Identity.
* Show us a document proving your identity; and
* Show us evidence that establishes your relationship to the child if your name is not listed as the parent on the child's evidence of age. The adoption decree or the amended U.S. birth certificate will suffice.
You can take your application and original documents to your local Social Security office, or you can mail them to us. All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. If you do not yet have proof of your child's citizenship, we can assign a number based on documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security upon the child's arrival in the United States. When you do receive documentation of your child's citizenship, you can bring it to us, and we will update your child's record. We will mail your child's number and card as soon as we have verified your documents with the issuing offices.
Question: How long do I need to work to become eligible for retirement benefits?
Answer: Everyone born in 1929 or later needs 40 Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement benefits. You can earn up to four credits per year, so you will need at least 10 years to become eligible for retirement benefits. During your working years, earnings covered by Social Security are posted to your Social Security record. You earn credits based on those earnings. If you become disabled or die before age 62, the number of credits needed depends on your age at the time you die or become disabled. Learn more at
Question: I have children at home and I plan to retire next fall. Will my children be eligible for monthly Social Security payments after I retire?
Answer: A child (biological, legally adopted, or dependent stepchild or grandchild) may potentially be eligible. Monthly Social Security payments may be made to your children if they are:
* Unmarried and under age 18,
* Age 19 if still in high school, or
* Age 18 or over, who became severely disabled before age 22 and continue to be disabled.

For more information, read Benefits For Children at
Question: Is there a time limit on Social Security disability benefits?
Answer: Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you cannot work. Social Security will periodically review your case to determine whether you continue to be eligible. If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach your full retirement age, your disability benefits will automatically be converted to retirement benefits. Learn more about disability benefits at
Question: Why is there a five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?
Answer: The law states that Social Security disability benefits begin with the sixth full month after the date your disability began. You are not entitled to benefits for any month prior to that. Learn more at our website:
Supplemental Security Income
Question: My grandfather, who is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), will be coming to live with me. Does he have to report the move to Social Security?
Answer: Yes. An SSI beneficiary must report any change in living arrangements within 10 days after the month the change occurs. If the change is not reported, your grandfather could receive an incorrect payment and have to pay it back, or he may not receive all the money due. Just as importantly, your grandfather needs to report the new address to Social Security to receive mail from us. You can report the change by mail or in person at any Social Security office or call Social Security's toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778). You can get more information by reading the booklet Understanding SSI, at
Question: I found out that my son submitted incorrect information about my resources when he completed my Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs. How can I get my application changed now to show the correct amount?
Answer: You can call 1-800-772-1213 and let us know. Or you can visit your local Social Security office (find it by using our office locator at Information on your application will be matched with data from other Federal agencies. If there is a discrepancy that requires verification, we will contact you.

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