How to Start Receiving Social Security Spousal Benefits

by Admin
How to Start Receiving Social Security Spousal Benefits

If you are a surviving spouse of someone who worked, then you may be eligible for Social Security Spousal Benefits.  This means, when you reach retirement age, if you haven’t already, you can get a monthly check based on your deceased spouse’s Social Security benefits.  To qualify, you actually don’t have to do a thing but reach retirement age and apply.  It’s the deceased spouse that has to have met the requirements for spousal benefits to be passed onto you.

If the deceased worker had a child or children under the age of 16 and you take care of that child, then you can start receiving Survivor’s benefits any time, even if you have not reached retirement age.  Same goes for when the deceased’s child is disabled and you take care of him or her.

You may also receive Survivor’s benefits before retirement age if you are disabled, and were disabled before the worker’s death, or within 7 years of the date of death.

How to Start Receiving Your Social Security Spousal Benefits

  1. Unfortunately, you cannot apply for Social Security Spousal Benefits online.  Call the SSA as soon as possible because benefits may not be retroactive.  Therefore, the sooner you apply, the more you’ll end up getting.  For more info, go to the Social Security Administration’s website’s page on how to apply.
  2. The Toll-Free telephone number for applying for Social Security Spousal Benefits is 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
  3. You may also call your local SSA office, if there is one.  You can also visit the office, but expect to wait a while in line if you don’t call first for an appointment.
  4. You’ll need
    1. proof of death
    2. your Social Security Number and the deceased person’s SSN
    3. your birth certificate
    4. your bank account info for Social Security Direct Deposit
    5. deceased workers’ W-2 form or tax return if there is no W-2 because he or she was self-employed


Did You Know You Probably Already Have Life Insurance?

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Did You Know You Probably Already Have Life Insurance?

What Are Social Security Death Benefits?

Social Security death benefits, often called Survivor’s Benefits, are benefits paid to dependent children or spouse of someone who dies.  This is sort of like a life insurance policy, and had nothing to do with retirement.   When you die, your spouse or dependents may be eligible to receive money from the Social Security Administration.  Even your divorced spouse our your parents, if they were dependent on you, may qualify for the death benefits.

The survivor gets a lump sum of $255 at the time of your death, then when he or he reaches retirement age, they get monthly checks, just as if they were receiving their own SSA check.

If the survivor is eligible to receive his or her own Social Security benefits, then they must choose which one to get, since you can’t have both.

How Much do Survivors Get?

That depends on how much the deceased person made throughout his or her life.  The more he/she earned, the more the benefits will be.  Every year, all workers receive a Social Security Statement in the mail (or you can look yours up online).  This will spell out how much your Death Benefits are currently worth.

How Does One Become Eligible for Death Benefits?

The person who became deceased must have accumulated enough credits.  Credits are earned by working a certain amount of time.  The  most you will have had to work is 10 years, in order to qualify for the “life insurance” through Social Security called Death Benefits.

If you happen to die very young, the number of years you had to have worked is fewer than if you die when you’re older.  However, the limit is ten years.  If you’ve worked for at least ten years, then your survivors will get Social Security death benefits.

Who Qualifies to Receive Social Security Death Benefits?

  • Your surviving spouse.  When he or she turns 66 (or 67, depending on when he or she was born), full benefits are available.
  • Spouse can get Reduced Widow/Widower Death Benefits can start as early as age 60.
  • Disable spouse may start receiving death benefits at age 50.
  • Your unmarried children under the age of 18.
  • Your disabled child of any age, if he or she became disabled before the age of 22
  • Sometimes the stepchildren, stepgrandchildren, adopted children or grandchildren can also receive benefits.
  • Your parents, if they are over the age of 62 and you were paying at least half of their living expenses.

How Do I Apply for Social Security Death Benefits?

First, it’s very important to know that you must apply for the lump sum of $255 within two years of the date of death.

Second, apply for the monthly benefits as soon as possible, since the benefits start when you apply, not from date of death.

Apply online only at the Social Security Administration’s website.


How to Conquer Your Fears and Fill Out Social Security Forms Online

by Admin
How to Conquer Your Fears and Fill Out Social Security Forms Online

For most Social Security benefits, you can apply online at the website.  It’s free and easy, and you should not need to pay any third party service to do it for you.  The Social Security forms are self-explanatory and clear, making it easy to apply for benefits.  If you’re not comfortable using a PC then it’s time to do some careful thinking about the way you want to manage your affairs from here on out.  Why?

The Social Security Administration Does Everything Online

From the very fist step toward Social Security benefits to managing them once you start receiving them, it’s so much easier if you do it all online.  Fear stops a lot of people, especially Seniors, from conducting their business online, whether it be banking, managing their investments, or even making a grocery list.  But now is not the time to be a stick in the mud.

Now is Not the Time to Be a Stick in the Mud

If you’re unsure of how to use a computer or navigate the internet, get someone to help you.  The biggest hurdle is in your own mind.  It’s really high time you got over this type of fear because it’s been over a decade that people have had home PC…plenty of time to get on board (where have you been?).  Social Security forms aren’t the only thing that’s much easier online- everything is!

If you have fears about security and identity theft, that’s another matter.  This is not an unfounded fear- look at what happened to Target credit card customers- hackers broke into their computer systems and stole their info.  Yes there are major security breaches now and then. but with the the U.S. Government it’s a little less likely this will happen.

Even with credit cards, if someone steals your number and runs up the bill, guess what you don’t have to pay it!

You Can Also Manage Your SSA Account Online So Get Used to It Now

So back to why you should fill out your Social Security Forms online rather than the old fashioned way (filling out paper forms).  If you can get yourself beyond your fears and apply online for Social Security Benefits, your life thereafter will be easier, too.  That’s because you’ll be all set to proceed to the next step of managing your account online, too.  But first, now that you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s a list of Social Security forms you can find online: (click the link to go there)

  • Retirement Benefits
  • Spouse’s Retirement Benefits
  • Medicare Benefits
  • Disability Benefits
  • Extra Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Costs

There are actually two SSA forms you can’t submit online and they are Survivor’s Benefits and Benefits for a Child.

After you apply for any of these benefits, you can also check the status of your application online as well.  If you are denied disability benefits, you can even request an appeal online.  See what we mean about life getting easier when you do things online?  It’s the little things…!


3 Things I Learned From Replacing my Social Security Card

by Admin
3 Things I Learned From Replacing my Social Security Card

It’s true: you rarely need to show your Social Security card and in fact many people haven’t seen their own card for years!  Sometimes you just need to have your on hand, however, for a job, a driver’s license or passport, or replacements for the license or passport.  How does one get a replacement Social Security Card?  Well it just so happens I went through this process just a short time ago.  Here are 3 things I learned from replacing my Social Security Card…

1.  A Social Security Card Replacement Takes Time

You’re going to have to either go directly to a Social Security Administration office or mail your original identity documents to a Social Security Administration office.  This, of course, takes time.  There’s really no way to rush the process, either.  Therefore, give yourself plenty of lead time if you’re working on a deadline to get the card.

2.  If You Don’t Have a US Driver’s License or US Passport, It’s Going to be Tough…

To get a replacement Social Security card, you must prove your identity. The Social Security Administration (SSA) accepts a valid and current US driver’s license or US passport.  If you don’t drive, there are US state-issued ID cards that serve the same purposes as driver’s licenses but without the driving part.

If you don’t have any of these documents then it’s a tough journey to replacing your Social Security card.  Other acceptable proofs if identity would include…

  • Life insurance policy
  • Medicaid card (but not Medicare card)
  • US Military ID
  • Certificate of US Citizenship
  • School ID card, a transcript or certified record

…and a few more types of ID that most people just don’t have.  What I found strange is that nowhere on the list (whic, by the way is straight from the SSA website) does it mention birth certificate as proof of identity.

3.  Getting a Replacement Social Security Card is Free…Don’t Get Scammed

Well if you search online for how to replace your Social Security card you’ll find a lot of “businesses” who want to “help” you replace your Social Security card.  Of course they’ll charge you for the “value added service”…$50 or $6o or even more in some cases.  Don’t fall for this, since the only way to replace your card is to present in person or mail your original proof of ID documents…nobody can speed this up or make it any easier.  And the application for a replacement card is simple…yes it’s 5 pages long but only one page is the actual form!  So don’t be intimidated by websites that say you’ll need their help filling out the application.


If You Lost Your Social Security Card…

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If You Lost Your Social Security Card…

If you’re wondering about a lost social security card then I have a question for you: what were you doing carrying it around?  It’s a rare occasion that warrants showing your Social Security card and the only reason I can immediately think of where it’s useful is filling out the I9 when you start a new job.

You Lost Your Social Security Card and You Need it for the I9

Or maybe that’s why you’re wondering about a lost social security card: you just started a new job and your employer has asked you to bring in identity and work-status documents that are now required in all workplaces.  You go to get your Social Security card and wham- you realize you haven’t seen it since 6th grade.  So maybe you just need a replacement because it’s long lost.

If you need the card in order to fulfill ID requirements for the I9 better find another document to prove your identity if you need it right away.  There are alternatives, such as your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate etc.  Your employer will have a list of what’s acceptable.

Technically, you’re supposed to fill out the I9 and your new employer is supposed to view your ID documents on the very first day of your employment.  Therefore, if you have a lost social security card, then it’s out as far as using it for the I9 is concerned.  That’s because it will take the Social Security Administration 10 business days to get it to you.  And that’s after they’ve received the SS-5 and proof of identity from you.  It can be up to 3 weeks between the time you realize you have a lost social security card and the moment you get your new card in the mail.

It’s Easy to Replace a Lost Social Security Card

In any case, it’s easy to get a new Social Security card.  In fact, it’s so easy it’s hardly worth writing about or wasting too much space on.  You just fill out the SS-5, available from the Social Security Administrations’ webiste and bring a photo id to the nearest Social Security office of mail it in.  The real problem, especially if you recently lost your card and think maybe someone stole it, is protecting your identity.

Identity Theft: the Real Reason to Worry About a Lost Social Security Card

Once an identity thief has possession of your Social Security number (yes it’s the number that’s valuable, not the actual card), he or she can pretty much rule the world with you footing the bill and being responsible for everything they do in your name.  That includes crime, by the way.  People have actually been arrested for crimes they didn’t do, but someone else did in their name after having stolen their social security number.

So hopefully by now you understand 100% why you shouldn’t be willy nilly carrying your social security card around with you in your wallet.  Put it in a safe place and only bring it out for special occasions.


There’s Only One Place to Fill Out a Social Security Card Application

by Admin
There’s Only One Place to Fill Out a Social Security Card Application

If you need a social security card then apply online at the official Social Security Administration’s website.  There are no ifs, ands or buts about this: do not apply for a social security card any other place!  If you do, your personal information will be stolen and your identity could be used in all sorts of fraud, theft and other sorts of crime.  Even if your social security card application is submitted at a non-SSA website that’s legitimately performing a service, you still shouldn’t do it.  At the very least, you will end up paying a third party money for something you could have done just as easily yourself.  That’s another sort of “crime”…a crime against common sense!

How to Apply for a Social Security Card

The social security card application is easy.  It’s the documentation that kills!  You must provide the SSA with correct and complete documentation of your identity or you will not get a card.  And of course the reasoning for this is that the social security card is the key to life in the United States.  You need a card to gain legal employment and when you retire, you won’t get Social Security benefits unless you have a social security card.  For the I-9 form, which you must fill out with your employer when you start a new job, the Social Security card is one of the identity-proving documents you can provide.

  1. Step One: go to the Official Social Security website’s “get a card” page at is where you will start your Social Security card application.
  2. Step Two: Read about the documentation you need in order to fill out the social security card application.  Get those documents.  This may be your hardest step by the way.  You can’t mail or take in photocopies of your documents (birth certificate, etc).  They need to see the originals.  You can get a certified copy of a marriage or divorce that took place in the US, or a birth document in the US.  The SSA needs documents showing proof of your US citizenship and of your immigration status.
  3. There’s a link to form SSA-5 on the Social Security website.  This is the official Social Security Card Application and can be found online here.
  4. Now the annoying part: even though you began your Social Security card application online, you’re going to have to take your SSA-5 and all your original identity documents and either mail them to SSA or go to a Social Security Office near you.
  5. Make sure you’re not paying someone a fee to do these simple things for you.  The hardest part is gathering the right documents, which you will still have to do if you pay someone to do this for you.  Don’t pay when you can get it for free!
  6. If you lost your card, it’s pretty much the same process for getting a replacement card.  You will be completing the same SSA-5 form, aka Application for a Social Security Card.


Make Sure Your Money Goes With You: a Social Security Change of Address

by Admin
Make Sure Your Money Goes With You: a Social Security Change of Address

Actually it’s not just retirees who need keep their address current with the Social Security Administration.  It’s anyone receiving benefits or who has applied for a Social Security Card or who has any type of pending claim.  But if you’re worried about receiving that fascinating Social Security statement in the mail, don’t bother.  You can get a cop of that online by creating an account on the Social Security website.

Go to  and set up a free account.  Then you’re registered for life and you can eventually apply for retirement online with that account.  But in the meantime, it’s a handy account to have for  submitting an online Social Security change of address.  By now I hope you’ve learned that simple tasks like this are much better done online than any other way.  You simply log in, access the right page, and quickly type in your new address.  Voila, you’re done.

The Online Social Security Change of Address

You’re set if you are already receiving benefits or medicare.  That’s because you can definitely file your Social Security change of address on their website after logging into your account.  You most certainly should feel a little bit sorry for people who are only receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) because they can’t change their address online.

If you receive SSI then call the Social Security number at 1-800-772-1213 during the week to change your address.  Alternatively, you can visit your local Social Security office but seriously, that’s not convenient for most people.  Also, you will find yourself waiting a very long time before you get to talk to anyone and then once you do, it will be a ridiculous scene because wow you cold have just called from the comfort of your own home.

How To Change Your Address With Social Security When You Live Overseas

If you live overseas then you probably LOVE the internet.  It’s the world’s greatest for staying in touch, learning about new things, and keep track of your life as well.  Wouldn’t you think that, of all the groups out there who need to be able to perform a Social Security change of address online it would be ex-patriates?  But no…. if you live overseas then you have to visit the US Embassy or Consulate nearest you and pray they have a Federal Benefits Office.  There isn’t even an international toll free number you can call if you want to speak to someone at the Social Security offices back home in the US.

To find out where your service office would be, visit the Social Security website’s page on foreign offices here.

What if I Applied for a Social Security Card and Then Moved?

In this situation, there’s nothing you can do with Social Security Administration or the website.  Once you order a Social Security card, the machine starts rolling and nothing can change what’s already in place.  Just file a change of address form with the Post Office and your new card will get forwarded to you.

How To Get Your Personalized Social Security Statement

by Admin
How To Get Your Personalized Social Security Statement

So, you’re growing up and you want to get all your ducks in order.  Maybe start saving, eat out at restaurants less, consider buying a modest home and building up a retirement fund.  You’ve been working a few years now, it’s time to take stock and see where you’re at, so to speak.

What about Social Security?  You may think it’s way too early to think about Social Security benefits but it sure is kind of interesting to see your own personalized social security statement.  It’s just one more piece of the big puzzle that is your financial future.  Want to know how to get one?

How to Obtain Your Personalized Social Security Statement

As with many government documents, the social security statement is now available online.  You can still get one by calling the Social Security Administration or by visiting your local SSA office.  But here’s why getting your statement online is by far the preferred method.

  1. Calling to get your social security statement will take forever and make you very very frustrated.  Why?  There are way more people calling SSA than there are people paid to answer the phones there.  You will be waiting on hold so long you’ll be closer to retirement age before you know it and still won’t have gotten through to anyone to help you get your social security statement.
  2. Visiting your local SSA office.  Well let me tell you there are a lot of retired people out there with nothing better to do than visit SSA offices to find out about their retirement benefits.  You will be waiting in the SSA office so long you’ll wonder why you didn’t just go online and get the thing there.
  3. That brings us to the best method for obtaining your social security statement: go online to the Social Security website and register for an account.

Register at the Social Security Website

Creating an account at will allow you to view your personal social security statement and also to do other things.  Eventually you will be able to officially retire online, register for Medicade, which you should do at age 65 regardless of whether you are retiring, and also to claim disability benefits should you need to.

What Does My Social Security Statement Tell Me?

First of all, you have to work a certain amount of time before you can get Social Security benefits.  The time is measured in quarters.  Your statement will tell you if you have worked enough quarters in order to qualify for benefits when you retire.

The statement tells you how much you’ll get each month after you retire, assuming you work until you retire.  See info on the social security retirement age for more on that.  In a nutshell, the longer you work the more you get when you retire.

A Few Other Things You Can Learn From Your Social Security Statement
  • Your statement also tells you whether you qualify for disability benefits and how much you’d get should you need to participate.
  • If you have survivors (meaning: you die) the statement tells you how much your spouse, your child, etc would get after you’re gone.
  • You can also see whether you qualify for Medicare (upon retirement)
  • Perhaps the most interesting thing on your social security statement will be your earnings record.  From the beginning of your working life, the SSA has been keeping track of your work history, how much you’ve made each year and how much you’ve contributed so far into the Social Security system.  It’s all listed right there for you to see, even those bare early years when you made hardly anything at all.

To register with the Social Security Administration, go to and create a secure account.