Buchheit Betsy


For many people, signing up for Medicare Part B doesn’t require you to leave the comfort of home. Please visit our Medicare Part B webpage at secure.ssa.gov/acu/ophandler/loginSuccess if:

  • You’re enrolled in Medicare Part A.

  • You would like to enroll in Part B during the Special Enrollment Period.

You can complete form CMS-40B (Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B [Medical Insurance]) at www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms-Items/CMS017339 and CMS-L564 at www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/Downloads/CMS-L564E.pdf(Request for Employment Information) online.

You can also fax the CMS-40B and CMS-L564 to 1-833-914-2016; or return forms by mail to your local Social Security office.  Please contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY1-800-325-0778) if you have any questions.  

Note:  When completing the forms:

  • State, “I want Part B coverage to begin (MM/YY)” in the remarks section of the CMS-40B form or online application.

  • If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best you can on behalf of your employer without your employer’s signature.

  • Submit one of the following types of secondary evidence by uploading it from a saved document on your computer: 

  • Income tax returns that show health insurance premiums paid.

  • W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions.

  • Pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions.

  • Health insurance cards with a policy effective date.

  • Explanations of benefits paid by the GHP or LGHP.

  • Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.

Please let your friends and loved ones know about this online, mail, or fax option.

Social Security spouse’s benefits explained

Understanding how your future retirement might affect your spouse is important. Here are a few things to remember when you’re planning for your retirement. Your spouse’s benefit amount could be up to 50 percent of your full retirement age benefit amount. If you qualify for a benefit from your own work history and a spouse’s record, we always pay your own benefit first. You cannot receive spouse’s benefits unless your spouse is receiving their retirement benefits (except for divorced spouses). 

If you took your reduced retirement first while waiting for your spouse to reach retirement age, your own retirement portion remains reduced.  When you add spouse’s benefits later, the total retirement and spouse's benefit together will total less than 50 percent of the worker’s amount.  You can find out more about this at www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html.

If your spouse’s retirement benefit is higher than your retirement benefit, and he or she chooses to take reduced benefits and dies first, your survivor benefit will be reduced, but may be higher than what your spouse received.

If your deceased spouse started receiving reduced retirement benefits before their full retirement age, a special rule called the retirement insurance benefit limit may apply to you. The retirement insurance benefit limit is the maximum survivor benefit you may receive.  Generally, the limit is the higher of:

  • The reduced monthly retirement benefit the deceased spouse would have been entitled to if he or she had lived, or

  • 82.5 percent of the unreduced deceased spouse’s monthly benefit if they had started receiving benefits at their full retirement age (rather than choosing to receive a reduced retirement benefit early). 

Knowing about these benefits can help you plan your financial future. Access a wealth of useful information and use our benefits planners at www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement

Veterans and active-duty military members can count on Social Security

Every year on Veterans Day, we honor the people who risk their lives to protect our country. Our disability program is an important part of our obligation to wounded warriors and their families.

Social Security is an important resource for military members who return home with injuries. If you know a wounded veteran, please let them know about our Wounded Warriors webpage.  You can find it at www.ssa.gov/woundedwarriors.  

The Wounded Warriors web page answers many commonly asked questions, and shares other useful information about disability benefits, including how veterans can receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims. Benefits available through Social Security are different from those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application.

We apply our expedited process for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after Oct. 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.

Even active-duty military who continue to receive pay while in a hospital or on medical leave should consider applying for disability benefits if they’re unable to work due to a disabling condition. Active-duty status and receipt of military pay doesn’t necessarily prevent payment of Social Security disability benefits. Although a person can’t receive Social Security disability benefits while engaging in substantial work for pay or profit, receipt of military payments should never stop someone from applying for disability benefits.

We honor veterans and active-duty members of the military every day by giving them the respect they deserve. Let these heroes know they can count on us when they need us most. They earned these benefits. Our web pages are easy to share on social media and by email with your friends and family. Please consider passing this information along to someone who may need it.

Social Security is important for women

In November, we show gratitude for the many things we are thankful for throughout the year. Family usually tops the list. The strong women in our lives are one of the central figures we appreciate. 

More women in the 21st century work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. Yet, on average, women face greater economic challenges in retirement than men. 

The majority of the people receiving Social Security benefits are women. Women generally live longer than men while often having lower lifetime earnings. And women may reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets compared to men. These are three key reasons why Social Security is vitally important to women. 

If you’ve worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system for at least 10 years, and have earned a minimum of 40 work credits, you may be eligible for your own benefits. Once you reach age 62, you may be eligible for your own Social Security benefit whether you’re married or not and whether your spouse collects Social Security or not. If you’re eligible and apply for benefits on more than one work record, you generally receive the higher benefit amount.

The sooner you start planning for retirement, the better off you’ll be. We have specific information for women at www.ssa.gov/people/women. You can also read the publication What Every Woman Should Know at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10127.pdf

Please share these links with friends and family you love.

How to replace a missing Social Security card online

If you need to replace your lost or misplaced Social Security card, our online application makes getting a replacement card easier than ever.  Requesting a card replacement online is available if you live in the District of Columbia or one of the 45 states that can verify state ID information for us. If you’re only requesting a replacement card and you’re making no changes, you may be able to use our free online service.

All you need to do is create a personal mySocial Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount and meet certain requirements. Opening a personal mySocial Security account is easy, convenient, and secure. We protect your information by using strict identity verification and security features. Once you have a personal account, simply follow the instructions to request a replacement Social Security card.

You can apply for a replacement card online, if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • Are a U. S. citizen age 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address (this includes APO, FPO, and DPO addresses).

  • Are not requesting any changes to your card (including a name change).

  • Have a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card.

In many cases, you may not need a replacement card; often, simply knowing your Social Security number is enough.

But if you do need a replacement card, please visit our website at www.ssa.gov/ssnumber to find out if you can take advantage of this convenient online service.




Question: Can I refuse to give my Social Security number to a private business?

Answer: Yes, you can refuse to disclose your Social Security number, and you should be careful about giving out your number. But, be aware, the person requesting your number can refuse services if you don’t give it. Businesses, banks, schools, private agencies, etc., are free to request someone's number and use it for any purpose that doesn’t violate a federal or state law. To learn more about your Social Security number, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Question: I prefer reading by audio book. Does Social Security have audio publications?

Answer: Yes, we do. You can find them at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Some of the publications available include What You Can Do Online, Working While Disabled - How We Can Help, Apply Online for Social Security Benefits, and Your Social Security Card and Number. You can listen now at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs


Question: I receive retirement benefits, but I also still work. How much can I earn and still collect Social Security retirement benefits?

Answer: Social Security uses the formulas below, depending on your age, to determine how much you can earn before we must reduce your benefit:

  • If you are younger than full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the annual limit ($18.240 in 2020). 

  • In the year you reach your full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above a different limit ($48,600 in 2020), but we count only earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. 

  • Starting with the month you reach full retirement age: You will get your benefits with nolimit on your earnings. 

Find out your full retirement age at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ageincrease.htm.

Question: Although I stopped working a few years ago, I had additional seasonal earnings after my retirement. Will my monthly Social Security retirement benefit increase?

Answer: Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase their monthly benefit amounts. If an increase is due, we calculate a new benefit amount and pay the increase retroactive to January following the year of earnings. You can learn more about how work affects your benefits by reading our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits, atwww.socialsecurity.gov/pubs


Question: Will my disability benefits be reduced if I get workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits?

Answer:If you get either workers' compensation or public disability benefit payments, we may reduce Social Security benefits for you and your family.


Public disability benefit payments paid under a federal, state, or local government law may affect your Social Security benefit. This includes civil service disability benefits, temporary state disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits based on disability. Disability payments from private sources, such as a private pension or insurance benefits, don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits. However, in some cases, private disability insurers may require you to apply for Social Security disability benefits before they pay you. You may want to check to find out about your private insurer’s policy.


We reduce the Social Security disability benefits you and your family get if the combined total amount, plus your workers' compensation payment, plus any public disability payment you get, exceeds 80 percent of your average earnings before you became injured or ill. 


See the publication What You Need To Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs for more information.

Question: I have a 38-year-old son who has been disabled by cerebral palsy since birth. I plan to apply for retirement benefits. Will he be eligible for benefits as my disabled child? 

Answer: Yes. In general, an adult disabled before age 22 may be eligible for child’s benefits if a parent is deceased or starts receiving retirement or disability benefits. We consider this a “child’s” benefit because we pay it on the parent’s Social Security earnings record. 

The “adult child” — including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild, grandchild, or step grandchild — must be unmarried, age 18 or older, and have a disability that started before age 22. 

Supplemental Security Income

Question: I am getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Can I get other kinds of help?

Answer: You may be able to get other assistance. For example, in most states, SSI recipients also get Medicaid. You should contact your medical assistance office. Also, SSI recipients are sometimes eligible for social services provided by the state, city, or county where they live. These may include arrangements for meals or transportation. SSI recipients also may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or “food stamps,” in many states. More information is available at your local public assistance office.

Question: I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), got a job promotion, and received a pay increase. Do I need to tell Social Security about the promotion?

Answer: Because the SSI program is needs-based, the amount of the payment you receive is partly based on your income. You need to report your wages monthly to make sure you get timely and accurate payments. The law requires you to report your earnings by phone or mail or take your pay stubs to Social Security at the beginning of each month. When you report your earnings, make sure to include overtime, vacation pay, and bonuses. If your income changes because of a job loss or promotion, Social Security will likely either increase or decrease your payments. Learn more by reading the fact sheet, Reporting Wages When You Receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs


Question: Who can get Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug coverage?

Answer: Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and you pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage. People with higher incomes might pay a higher premium. 

If you have limited income and resources, you may be eligible for Extra Help to pay for the costs — monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments — related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. To qualify for Extra Help, you must reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. For 2020, your resources must be limited to $14,610 for an individual or $29,160 for a married couple living together. (Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. We do not count your house and car as resources.) Your annual income must be limited to $19,140 for an individual or $25,860 for a married couple living together. 

Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

Question: I need to make changes to my Medicare prescription drug coverage. When can I do that?

Answer: Open season for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. The Medicare Part D prescription drug program is available to all Medicare beneficiaries. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary and participants pay an additional monthly premium. If you are considering changing your plan, you might want to revisit the Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs. If you have limited resources and income, you may also be eligible for Extra Help to pay monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $5,000 per year. To find out more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp. For more information about the Medicare prescription drug program itself, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY1-877-486-2048). 

Betsy Buchheit is Social Security district manager in Alton.


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