Your Benefits

From the Social Security Administration
Your Disability Benefits

Your Benefit Amount

Your Certificate of Award explains how much your disability benefit will be and when payments start. It also shows when you can expect your condition to be reviewed to see if there has been any improvement. If family members are eligible, they will receive a separate notice and a booklet about things they need to know.

If you are getting disability benefits on your own record, or if you are a widow or widower getting benefits on a spouse’s record, your payments cannot begin before the sixth full month of disability. If the sixth month is past, your first payment may include some back benefits.

Your Social Security benefit may be reduced if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, other public disability payments or a pension from a job where you did not have to pay Social Security taxes. (See Part 2? If You Get A Pension From Work Not Covered By Social Security, for more information.)

You can expect your payment amount to go up in future years. Whenever the cost of living goes up in a year, benefits will be increased by that amount the following January. If there is an increase, you will get a notice telling you about it. You do not have to apply for this increase; it comes automatically.

When To Expect Your Benefit

Social Security benefits are paid each month. The notice you received telling you that your benefit application was approved also told you when you will receive your monthly benefits. Generally, your benefit will arrive on the second, third or fourth Wednesday of the month, depending on the birthday of the worker on whose records you receive benefits. For example, if you receive benefits on your own earnings record as a retired or disabled worker, your benefits will be determined by your birth date. If you receive benefits as a spouse of a retired or deceased worker, your benefit payment day will be determined by your spouse’s birth date. Here is how it works:

Birth date on
Benefits paid on

1st – 10th
Second Wednesday

11th – 20th
Third Wednesday

21st – 31st
Fourth Wednesday

If You Get A Check By Mail

The post office generally delivers your check on time every month, but if your check is delayed, wait at least three days before reporting the missing check to Social Security. The most common reason checks are late is because a change of address was not reported. You shouldn’t sign your check until you are at the place where you will cash it. If you sign it ahead of time and lose it, the person who finds it could cash it.

If your check is lost or stolen after you receive it, contact Social Security immediately. Your check can be replaced, but it takes time. To be safe, you should cash or deposit your check as soon as possible after you receive it. A government check must be cashed within 12 months after the date of the check, or it will be void.

Returning Payments Not Due

If you receive a payment you know is not due, (for example, you are working and your condition has improved), you should return it to any Social Security office. If you send it by mail, be sure to enclose a note telling why you are sending the payment back.

Paying Taxes On Your Benefits

Some people who get Social Security have to pay taxes on their benefits. You will be affected only if you have substantial income in addition to your Social Security benefits.

If you file a federal tax return as an “individual”, and your combined income* is between $25,000 and $34,00, you may have to pay taxes on 50 percent of your Social Security benefits. If your combined income is above $34,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits is subject to income tax.

If you file a joint return, you may have to pay taxes on 50 percent of your benefits if you and your spouse have a combined income* that is between $32,000 and $44,000. If your combined income* is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits is subject to income tax.

If you are a member of a couple and file a separate return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.
*On the 1040 tax return, your “combined income” is the sum
of your adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest plus one-half
of your Social Security benefits.

Although you’re not required to have federal taxes withheld from your monthly benefit, you may find it easier than paying quarterly estimated tax payments.

To have federal taxes withheld, you’ll need a form W-4V from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can get this form by calling the IRS toll-free telephone number, 1-800-829-3676, or by visiting SSA’s Internet website, www.ssa.gov. After completing and signing the form, return it to your local Social Security office by mail or in person.

To get the address of your local Social Security, call 1-800-772-1213.

Each time you want to make a change (or stop the withholding), complete the W-4V and send it to Social Security.

Every January, you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099) in the mail showing the amount of benefits you received in the previous year, You can use this statement when you are completing your federal income tax return to find out if any of your benefits are subject to tax. You also can use the SSA-1099 when you need proof of your benefit amount.

Most people who are neither residents nor citizens of the U.S. will have up to 25.5 percent of their benefits withheld. If you are subject to this tax and you become a U.S. resident or citizen, you should notify Social Security.

For more information, call 1-800-829-3676 to ask for Publication 554, Tax Information for Older Americans, and Publication 915, Social Security Benefits and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.

How Long Payments Continue

Your disability benefits generally will continue for as long as your impairment has not medically improved and you cannot work. They will not necessarily continue indefinitely. Because of advances in medical science and rehabilitation techniques, an increasing number of people with disabilities recover from serious accidents and illnesses. Also, many individuals, through determination and effort, overcome serious conditions and return to work in spite of them.

As explained on Part 3?Reviewing Your Disability Case, your case will be reviewed periodically to make sure you’re still disabled. In addition, you are responsible for promptly reporting if your medical condition improves, if you believe that you can work or when you actually do return to work. (See Part 2?If You Go To Work, for more information.)

Your benefits may be affected if you marry (unless you are getting disability benefits on your own record), if you receive certain other types of disability payments, or if you go to certain countries. Make sure you read and understand the information on what to report on Part 2?Reporting Changes That Can Affect Your Benefits. In this way, you can avoid having to pay back some benefits later.

If you are still getting disability benefits when you turn 65, your benefits automatically will be changed to retirement benefits, generally in the same amount. You then will receive a new booklet explaining your rights and responsibilities as a retired person.

A Word About Medicare

After you receive disability benefits for 24 months, you will be eligible for Medicare. You will get information about Medicare several months before your coverage starts. (If you have chronic kidney disease requiring regular dialysis or a transplant, you may qualify for Medicare almost immediately.)

Help For Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries

If you get Medicare and have low income and few resources, your state may pay your Medicare premiums and, in some cases, other “out-of-pocket” Medicare expenses such as deductibles and coinsurance. Only your state can decide if you qualify. To find out if you do, contact your state or local welfare office or Medicaid agency. For more general information about the program, contact Social Security and ask for a copy of the publication, Medicare Savings For Qualified Beneficiaries (HCFA Publication No. 02184).

Benefits For Children

If a child is getting benefits on your work record, there are important things you should know about his or her benefits.

When A Child Reaches Age 18

A child’s benefits stop with the month before the child reaches age 18, unless the child is either disabled or is a full-time elementary or secondary school student and remains unmarried.

About five months before the child’s 18th birthday, the person receiving the child’s benefits will get a form explaining how benefits can continue.

A child whose benefits stopped at age 18 can have them started again if he or she becomes disabled before reaching 22 or becomes a full-time elementary or secondary school student before reaching age 19.

If A Child Is Disabled

A child can continue to receive benefits after age 18 if he or she has a disability. The child also may qualify for SSI disability benefits. Call us for more information.

If A Child At Age 18 Is A Student

A child can receive benefits until age 19 if he or she continues to be a full-time elementary or secondary school student and remains unmarried. When a student’s 19th birthday occurs during a school term, benefits can be continued up to two months to allow completion of the term.

Social Security should be notified immediately if the student drops out of school, changes from full-time to part-time attendance, is expelled or suspended, or changes schools. We also should be told if the student is paid by his or her employer for attending school.

We send each student a form at the beginning and end of the school year. It is important that the form be filled out and returned to us. Benefits could be stopped if the form is not sent back.

A student can keep receiving benefits during a vacation period of four months or less if he or she plans to go back to school full time at the end of the vacation.

A student who stops attending school generally can receive benefits again if he or she returns to school full time before age 19. The student needs to contact Social Security to reapply for benefits.

How Divorce Affects A Stepchild’s Benefits

If a stepchild is receiving benefits on your earnings record and you and the child’s parent divorce, the stepchild’s benefit will end the month following the month the divorce becomes final. You must tell us as soon as the divorce becomes final.

Having A Child After Benefits Start

If you become the parent of a child after you begin receiving Social Security benefits and the child is in your care, be sure to notify us so that the child also can receive benefits.

If A Social Security Employee Visits You

If anyone comes to your home to talk about Social Security or SSI, ask for his or her identification. Anyone who is from Social Security will be glad to show you proper identification.

If you have any doubts about the person, you can call us to ask if someone was sent to see you. And remember: Social Security employees will never ask you for money to have something done. It’s their job to help you.

Free Social Security Services

You never have to pay for information or service at Social Security. Some businesses advertise that they can provide name changes, Social Security cards or earnings statements for a fee. All these services are provided free by Social Security. So don’t pay for something that’s free. Call us first. Social Security is the best place to get information about Social Security.

A Message About Food Stamps

You can get a food stamp application and information at any Social Security office. Or call our toll-free number
1-800-772-1213. Ask for the leaflet, Food Stamps and Other Nutrition Programs (Publication No. 05-10100) or the factsheet, Food Stamp Facts (Publication No. 05-10101).

Your Personal Information Is Safe With Social Security

Social Security keeps personal information on millions of people. That information?such as your Social Security number, earnings record, age, and address is confidential. Generally, we will discuss this information only with you. We need your permission if you want someone else to help with your Social Security business.

If you ask a friend or family member to call Social Security, you need to be with them when they call so we will know that you want them to help. The Social Security representative will ask your permission to discuss your Social Security business with that person.

If you send a friend or family member to our local office to conduct your Social Security business, send your written consent with them. Only with your written permission can Social Security discuss your personal information with them and provide the answers to your questions.

In the case of a minor child, the natural parent or legal guardian can act on the child’s behalf in taking care of the child’s Social Security business.

We urge you to be careful with your Social Security number and to protect its confidentiality whenever possible. Although we can’t prevent others from asking for your Social Security number, you should know that your Social Security records are kept private.

There are times when the law requires Social Security to give information to other government agencies to conduct other government health or welfare programs?such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Medicaid and food stamps. Programs receiving information from Social Security are prohibited from sharing that information.