2006-03-03 / Columnists

Social Security And You

More Questions On Social Security Income
By James Glasser, Manager, Far Rockaway Social Security Center

James Glasser
James Glasser Question: I retired last year and now realize that I could owe federal income taxes on some of my Social Security benefits. How can I arrange to have taxes withheld from my Social Security check?

Answer: Although you are not required to have federal taxes withheld from your Social Security benefits, many people do find it easier than paying quarterly estimated tax payments. To have federal taxes withheld, or to change your original withholding request, you will need to 1) complete IRS Form W-4V, 2) select the percentage (7, 10, 15, or 25) of your monthly benefit amount you want withheld and 3) sign and return the form to your local Social Security office by mail or in person.

You may obtain IRS Form W-4V from Social Security’s website at www. socialsecurity.gov/taxwithhold.html or you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-3676.

Question: In a few years I will turn 62 and would like to retire. I know that legislation is gradually raising Social Security’s full retirement age from 65 to 67. But does this mean the “early” retirement age will also be going up by two years, from age 62 to 64?

Answer: While it is true that Social Security is gradually raising the full retirement age from 65 to 67, the “early” retirement will remain at 62. So you can go ahead with your plans to retire early. Keep in mind, however, that by taking early retirement, your benefits will be reduced permanently. For more information about Social Security benefits, visit the website at www.socialsecurity.gov/r&m1.htm, or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the publication Retirement Benefits.

Question: I am a U.S. citizen, but recently married a woman I met while traveling in Canada. Now we are making plans to live in Canada when I retire. Can I collect Social Security benefits while living there?

Answer: Yes. If you are a U.S. citizen and eligible for Social Security benefits, you may receive your Social Security payments outside the U.S. However, regardless of your citizenship, there are certain countries where we are not allowed to send payments. For more information about your rights and responsibilities under Social Security while living abroad, visit the Social Security website at www.social security.gov/ pubs/10137.html, or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the publication Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States.

Question: I have an appointment to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Is there anything I can do to make the process go more quickly?

Answer: Yes, there are actions that you can take to speed up the disability decision-making process. First, make sure that you keep your appointment with Social Security to apply for benefits as soon as possible. Bring as many medical records as you can, but don’t wait to get your medical records before you come in. Ask your treating sources to respond immediately to our requests for information. Have the names and addresses of all doctors, hospitals or clinics that have treated you. Complete your disability application and report as fully as possible. And notify us of changes, especially changes in contact information, such as your address and phone number. These actions will help speed up the processing of your claim, and you can also speed the process further by applying online. For more information about Social Security disability benefits, visit the website at www.soc ialsecurity.gov, or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the publication Disability Benefits.

Question: How do I know if I qualify for extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs?

Answer: You may get a letter from Medicare saying that you automatically qualify for extra help. If you don’t automatically qualify, Social Security is sending people with limited income and limited resources an Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs . You may qualify if your income is less than $14,700 for an individual or $19,800 for a married couple living together, and your resources are less than $11,500 for an individual or $23,000 if you are married and living with your spouse. If you didn’t get – or did not complete – an application but think you may qualify, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.social security.gov on the web. After you complete the application, Social Security will mail you a letter.

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