If you’re like me you thought Social Security’s function begins and ends with a monthly payment. Certainly that is job number one, but over its history, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has added numerous special services to help us deal with pressing medical, familial and financial issues.
Today we will explore some lesser known benefits that I found from an AARP article. Maybe you can take advantage of one, two or more!
1. Expedited Disability Claims…
As of late 2021, the average processing time for a Social Security disability claim was more than five months. And that’s just the initial application; it can take many more months, even years, to appeal a claim that’s first denied.
Waits like that can be especially hard for people with severe or worsening illnesses. That’s why the SSA established the Compassionate Allowances program, a list of more than 250 serious medical conditions that by definition meet Social Security’s standard for disability.
Applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) involving those conditions are automatically flagged for fast-tracking and can be approved in a matter of days.
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2. Representative Payees…
Not all Social Security recipients are able to manage their own benefit payments. Some have cognitive disorders or developmental disabilities; some are small children. In such cases, Social Security can appoint someone to serve as the beneficiary’s representative payee.
A representative payee has authority to receive another person’s benefits and use them to meet that person’s essential needs, such as food, shelter and health care. It’s typically a family member or friend, but organizations such as nursing homes can also fill the role. It’s a serious job that requires diligence: Social Security holds payees accountable for how they spend benefit funds, and they are strictly prohibited from putting the money to their own use.
3. Help With Medicare Drug Costs…
Extra Help, a program run by Social Security and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), can reduce prescription drug expenses for low-income Medicare beneficiaries by an estimated $5,100 a year. The aid can be put toward premiums, deductibles and copays related to a Medicare drug plan.
The program is open to residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia who are enrolled in Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B and have income of no more than $20,385 for an individual or $27,465 for a married couple living together. There are also strict limits on financial assets such as savings, investments and property other than your primary residence.
4. Translation and Interpretation…
Like everyone else, people who speak little or no English may need to talk to the staff at Social Security about benefits or other concerns. To address this, Social Security provides free interpreter services to anyone who requests or shows a need for language assistance.
Languages that the agency can translate on a phone call or office visit include Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. To request an interpreter, call Social Security at 800-772-1213. SSA also provides written materials in several languages on its website.
5. International Social Security Agreements…
Many Americans work in foreign countries, and many foreign nationals work in the United States. People in either situation may be subject to dual payroll taxation: having to pay into two countries’ retirement systems from the same wages.
To minimize that risk, Social Security has negotiated agreements with 30 countries that have comparable programs for retirees.
These pacts generally provide for workers to pay payroll taxes to only one country’s retirement system at a time. They also allow workers covered by the agreements to pool credits they’ve earned from employment in more than one country, to ensure they qualify for retirement benefits in the country where they claim them.
6. Proof Of Income…
Applying for a loan, or for a government benefit like food stamps or housing assistance, requires proving your income is high enough to make you a good credit risk or low enough to make you eligible for aid. If that income includes Social Security benefits, you can get the evidence you need in minutes via SSA’s online My Social Security service.
With a My Social Security account, you can quickly customize, download and print a copy of your benefit verification letter, which serves as proof of your Social Security income. You can also use your account to review your earnings history, check current or future benefits, order a replacement Social Security or Medicare card, and access other Social Security services.
7. Benefits For Grandchildren…
Nearly 3 million children in the United States are being raised by a grandparent or grandparents, according to a study published in the September 2020 issue of the journal Pediatrics. Many of them may be eligible for Social Security benefits on the basis of that relationship.
Generally, if you are providing at least half of a minor grandchild’s financial support, and the natural parents are deceased, disabled or otherwise unable to regularly contribute to that support, the child can collect dependent or survivor benefits when you retire, become disabled or die. If you are already on Social Security when a grandchild comes into your care, you must legally adopt the child for him or her to receive benefits on your record.
There are probably more benefits that we aren’t aware of. It might seem daunting but it might be worth some time to visit Social Security Site
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