Social Security Q&A Part 10

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Question: Are Social Security numbers reassigned after a person dies?
Answer: No. We do not reassign Social Security numbers. In all, we have assigned more than 460 million Social Security numbers. Each year we assign about 5.5 million new numbers. There are over one billion combinations of the nine-digit Social Security number. As a result, the current system has enough new numbers to last for several more generations. For more information about Social Security, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Question: How can I get proof of my benefits to apply for a loan?
Answer: If you need proof you get Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicare, you can request a benefit verification letter online through your personal my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. This letter is sometimes called a “budget letter,” a “benefits letter,” a “proof of income letter,” or a “proof of award letter.” You even can select the information you want included in your online benefit verification letter.
Question: I served in the military, and I’ll receive a military pension when I retire. Will that affect my Social Security benefits?
Answer: You can get both Social Security retirement benefits and military retirement at the same time. Generally, we don’t reduce your Social Security benefits because of your military benefits. When you’re ready to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. This is the fastest and easiest way to apply. For your convenience, you can always save your progress during your application and complete it later. And thank you for your military service!
Question: My wife and I live in Michigan, but plan to spend the winter in New Mexico. My wife will turn 62 while we are down south. Can she apply for benefits in New Mexico, or do we have to wait until we get back home to apply for retirement at our local Social Security office?
Answer: These days, you don’t even have to be near a Social Security office to apply for benefits. Regardless of where you and your wife are living, you can apply for retirement benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. It’s so easy to do, and it can take as little as 15 minutes to complete and submit the application. If she prefers, your wife can file a retirement benefit application at any Social Security office — including the one closest to you in Michigan, New Mexico, or wherever you happen to be.
Question:  How do I appeal a decision on my application for disability benefits?
Answer:  When we make a decision on your application, we’ll send you a letter explaining our decision. If you don’t agree with our decision, you can ask us to look at your case again, or appeal it. You must appeal within 60 days from the date you get our decision letter. You can:

  • File a disability appeal online with our new, improved process and electronically provide documents to support your request, even if you live outside of the United States; or
  • Visit your local Social Security office.

Question: What are Compassionate Allowances?
Answer: Compassionate Allowances are Social Security’s way of quickly identifying severe diseases and other medical conditions that qualify a person for disability benefits without waiting a long time. Compassionate Allowances permit Social Security to target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances and faster payment of benefits based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly. Compassionate Allowances are not separate from the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs. Find out more at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.
Question: I am receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Can my children receive dependent’s benefits based on my benefits?
Answer: No. SSI benefits are based on the needs of one individual and are paid only to the qualifying person. Disabled children are potentially eligible for SSI, but there are no spouse’s, dependent children’s, or survivors benefits payable as there are with Social Security benefits. For more information, see our publication, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Simply type the title of the publication in the publication search box on the left side of the page. You also may want to read Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI), available at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-understanding-ssi.htm. For even more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Question: I was incarcerated for 2 years. Before I was imprisoned, I received SSI benefits. Will my SSI payments start automatically when I am released?
Answer: No. You must contact your local Social Security office and provide them with information regarding your release dates. In some cases, it may be necessary to reapply for SSI benefits. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/reentry or contact your local Social Security office.
For more information, call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To learn more about Social Security’s disability programs, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.