SOCIAL SECURITY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

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DSCF2297By Kylle’ McKinney, Alabama Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Question: I suspect that someone I know is collecting Social Security disability benefits when they shouldn’t be. What is the best way for me to report fraud?

 Answer: Social Security has zero tolerance for fraud and uses many proven tactics to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. Our Office of the Inspector General is relentless in its pursuit of people who conceal work activity while receiving disability benefits. We investigate and seek prosecution for people who receive benefits for a child or children who aren’t under their care, or who fail to notify Social Security of the death of a beneficiary and continue to receive and cash checks of the deceased. We also depend on you to help stop fraud. Please report fraud online at http://oig.ssa.gov/report or call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.

 

Question: I haven’t received my Social Security Statement in the mail the last few years. Will I ever get one again?

 Answer: In September 2014, Social Security resumed mailing Social Security Statements to workers ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits, and who don’t have a my Social Security account. Rather than once every five years, those over age 60 will receive a Statement every year. Instead of waiting to receive a mailed Statement once every five years, we encourage people to open a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount so they can access their Statement online, anytime.

 

 Question: Why is it so important that my baby have a Social Security number?

Answer: Your child may need a Social Security number if you are planning to open a bank account, buy savings bonds, obtain medical coverage, or apply for government services for the child. Your child will also need a Social Security number if you are going to declare him or her on your taxes. Getting a Social Security number for your newborn is voluntary, but it is a good idea to apply when your child is born. You can apply for a Social Security number for your baby when you apply for your baby’s birth certificate. The state agency that issues birth certificates will give us your child’s information and we will mail you a Social Security card with the child’s Social Security number. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber for more information.

 

Question: I am about to retire, but I still have a young child in my care. Will I receive additional benefits for the child I care for?

 Answer: When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits. Your eligible child can be your biological child, an adopted child, or a stepchild. In limited circumstances, you may also get benefits for a dependent grandchild. To receive benefits, your child must be: unmarried; under the age of 18; between 18 and 19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or 18 or older and disabled from a condition that started before age 22. You can read more about planning for a disabled child’s care here: www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/yourchildren.htm.

 

Question: A few years ago, I lost my Social Security card. Now my credit report shows that someone might be using my Social Security number. I’m afraid they might ruin my credit. What should I do?

 Answer: Identity theft and fraud are serious problems, not just for you, but for the financial integrity of our agency. It also puts our national security at risk if someone dangerous is using your number to obtain other forms of identification. It’s against the law to use someone else’s Social Security number, give false information when applying for a number, or alter, buy, or sell Social Security cards. Keep in mind, you should never carry your Social Security card with you. If you think someone is using your Social Security number fraudulently, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) right away. You can report it at www.idtheft.gov or you can call FTC’s hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4261) TTY: (1-866-653-4261).

 

 Question: I know someone who believes it’s not a big deal to cheat a little on their Supplemental Security Income application. What can I tell them to dissuade them from giving false information?

 Answer: Social Security not only seeks criminal charges against and imprisonment of people who give false, incomplete, or inaccurate information, we also have the authority to impose civil monetary penalties against people who commit fraud. When we find evidence that someone provided false information or withheld information that would have prevented him or her or someone else from collecting benefits, we can impose a civil monetary penalty of up to $5,000 for each occurrence. We are also authorized to impose administrative sanctions. During a sanction period, benefits stop. The sanction periods are 6 months for the first occurrence, 12 months for the second occurrence, and 24 months for each additional occurrence. You can report fraud online at http://oig.ssa.gov/report or call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.

 

 

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