Another reader asks why SSI program doesn't cover family. Medicare for disabled kicks in after 2 years
Mon, Jul. 21, 2003
The Beacon Journal
Q: I am about to turn 62 and plan to take my Social Security. I have a 58-year-old wife. She has never worked outside the home. She has multiple sclerosis and is totally disabled. Can she get disability benefits as a wife from my record? H.H., Hiram
A: Unfortunately, there is a benefit for a disabled spouse under the Survivor Program but not under Retirement. To be eligible on your record, she would have to be 62 years old. There is a program for disabled people called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI does not have a work requirement. To be eligible, you and your wife would have to meet certain income and resource limits and her medical condition would have to be approved. To find out more, call 800-772-1213.
Q: I was just approved for an SSI disability check. When I receive my first check, it was only for me. I thought there would be benefits for my wife and son. She is 41 and he is 10. Shouldn't they qualify for something? D.P., Akron
A: The Social Security disability program pays benefits to families but the SSI program does not. If your wife or son has a disability, then they should apply for their own SSI payment. If they are not disabled, they are not eligible for benefits from SSI.
Q: I have been receiving disability checks for about 1 ½ years. I understand that I will be eligible for Medicare coverage after two years. How soon do I have to apply for that coverage? C.F., Canton
A: You don't have to apply. Medicare enrollment is automatic after you have been on disability for 24 months. The ID cards and other information will be sent a few months before the coverage starts. Hospital coverage is free. Medicare Part B does have a premium that will be deducted from your monthly check.
Q: I turn 62 in 2005 and plan to retire. In addition to my Social Security and company pension, I will be getting payments from a 401 account. Will the 401 money count against me and cause me to lose some of my Social Security? I expect to get about $15,000 annually. K.H., Canton
A: No, the 401 investment will not interfere with your Social Security benefit. There are restrictions on the amount of money you can make from working but not on the amount of income you have. Earnings from work and net profit from self-employment are the items that apply to Social Security's income limit.
Q: I have always been self-employed. I will be 62 next year and my wife thinks that I would be eligible for Social Security. She said that I can operate my business and still receive checks. She is the company's accountant and keeps the books. Is she right about this? My taxable profit is usually between $9,000 and $10,000 each year and I don't anticipate any changes. The business does a gross income of over $100,000 and that should knock out Social Security. K.S., Bath
A: Your wife, the accountant, is correct. The net profit amount
is the important figure for Social Security. Since the net profit is expected
to be below the annual earnings limit ($11,520 for 2003), you can start
collecting benefits at 62. You really don't have to change anything to
qualify. If you start receiving at 62, the benefit will be reduced. You
should contact Social Security a few months before your birthday to apply.
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