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Social Security Questions and Answers


What is the benefit amount a spouse may be entitled to receive?


If you’re eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse's benefits. A spouse generally receives 50 percent of the retired worker's full benefit, unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, the amount of the spouse's benefit is reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before he or she reaches full retirement age. For example, based on a full retirement age of 66, if a spouse begins collecting benefits:

· At age 65, the benefit amount would be about 46 percent of the retired worker's full benefit;

· At age 64, it would be about 42 percent;

· At age 63, 37.5 percent; and

· At age 62, 35 percent.

However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receives Social Security benefits on the same record, a spouse will get full benefits, regardless of age. Learn more by reading our Retirement publication at


I work in retirement. How much can I earn and still collect full Social Security retirement benefits?


Social Security uses the formulas below, depending on your age, to determine how much you can earn before we must reduce your benefit:

· If you are younger than full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2016, that limit is $15,720.

· In the year you reach your full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above a different limit, but we count only earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. For 2016, this limit is $41,880.

· Starting with the month you reach full retirement age: you will get your benefits with no limit on your earnings. Find out your full retirement age at:


My brother had an accident at work last year and is now receiving Social Security disability benefits. His wife and son also receive benefits. Before his accident, he helped support another daughter by a woman he never married. Is the second child entitled to benefits?


The child may qualify for Social Security benefits even though your brother wasn't married to the second child's mother. The child’s caretaker should file an application on her behalf. For more information, read our publication, Benefits for Children, available at:


I was wounded while on military service overseas. What are the benefits for wounded warriors, and how can I apply?


Through the Wounded Warrior program, Social Security expedites processing of disability claims of current military service members or veterans disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001. Also, service members and veterans who have a Veterans Administration compensation rating of 100% Permanent and Total (P&T) may receive expedited processing of applications for Social Security disability benefits. Keep in mind, this expedited process applies to only the application process. To be eligible for benefits, you must meet Social Security’s strict definition of “disability,” which means:

· You must be unable to do substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and

· Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or to result in death.

You can apply online at or call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

You can find more information for veterans at:


What are the limits on what I can own to be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?


SSI provides payments for people with limited income and resources. We count real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds toward the limits on what you can own and still receive SSI. You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth no more than $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI if they have resources worth no more than $3,000. If you own property you are trying to sell, you may be able to get SSI while trying to sell it. Social Security does not count everything you own in deciding whether you have too many resources to qualify for SSI. For example, we generally do not count: the home you live in and the land it is on; life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less; your car; burial plots for you and your immediate family; and up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and up to $1,500 in burial funds for your spouse. Learn more about SSI at


I am a single mother and I get Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Can my daughter receive SSI benefits based on my SSI?


No. SSI benefits are based on the needs of the individual and are paid only to the qualifying person. There are no spouse's, children's, or survivors benefits. However, if your daughter is disabled, she might be eligible to receive SSI benefits.

To learn more about SSI benefits, read our publication on the subject at: Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by e-mail at:


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