Social Security Questions

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By Alice Moses-Turner
Social Security District Manager, Gainesville, Fl
Question: What is the earliest age that I can apply for
Social Security retirement benefits?

If you want benefits to begin at age 62 — the earliest age
you can receive reduced retirement benefits, you must be at
least 61 years and 9 months of age to apply. Keep in mind
your benefits will be reduced so evaluate your options carefully
before you decide when to retire, Even if you are not
ready to retire, you should still sign up for Medicare three
months before your 65th birthday. You can do both online
at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.
Question: Can I delay my retirement benefits and
receive benefits as a spouse only? How does that affect

It depends on your age. If you are full retirement age or
older when you first apply, and your spouse is receiving
Social Security benefits, you can choose to file and receive
benefits on just your spouse’s Social Security record. This
way, you could delay filing for benefits on your own record
in order to receive delayed retirement credits.
By filing only for benefits as a spouse, you may receive a
higher retirement benefit on your own record later based on
the effect of delayed retirement credits. You can earn
delayed retirement credits up to age 70 as long as you do not
collect your own benefits.
Since the rules vary depending on the situation, you
should talk to a Social Security representative about the
options available to you. To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.
gov or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-
Question: What is Supplemental Security Income

The SSI program provides monthly payments to people
with limited income and financial resources who are age 65
or older, blind or disabled. In 2010, the maximum federal
SSI payment is $674 a month for an individual and $1,011 a
month for an eligible couple. This amount may be reduced
if you have other income.
To get SSI, your financial resources (savings and assets
you own) cannot exceed $2,000 ($3,000 if married). If you
are married and only one person is eligible, a portion of your
spouse’s income may be counted. You can be eligible for
SSI even if you have never worked in employment covered
under Social Security.
Question: Does Social Security provide special services
or information for people who are blind or visually

Yes. Social Security offers a number of services and
products specifically designed for people who are blind or
visually impaired.
Special Notice Option
If you are blind or visually impaired, you can choose to
receive notices and other information from Social Security in
ways that may be more convenient for you. To find out more
about this service, go to our page, If You Are Blind Or
Visually Impaired—Your Choices For Receiving
Information from Social Security, at
In addition, if you have a question about a Social Security
notice you receive, you may call our toll-free number, 1-800-
772-1213, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or
call or visit your local Social Security office and ask us to
read it to you.
Public Information Materials
Many of our publications, such as brochures and fact
sheets, are available in Braille, audiocassette tapes, compact
disks, or in enlarged print. Our publication, If You Are
Blind Or Have Low Vision—How We Can Help, and other
publications in alternative formats can be obtained by calling,
toll-free, 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 7
a.m. to 7 p.m. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may
call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.
For more information, see our page Public Information
Materials in Alternative Media at