Q: How do I show proof of my Social Security benefit amount?

A: There are several ways to do this:

  • Use your SSA-1099 form as proof of your income
  • Use your annual notice that tells you your benefit amount for the year
  • Go online and request a Proof of Income Letter at www.socialsecurity.gov/bene
  • Call Social Security’s toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) 7 a.m.–7 p.m., Monday–Friday

Q: I understand that by 2013 I will no longer be able to receive my Social Security payments by paper check. What are the benefits of using direct deposit?

A: The benefits of using direct deposit are:

  • It’s safe, secure and convenient;
  • There are no checks to be lost;
  • You are in control of your money; and
  • You will get your benefits on time, even if you’re out of town, sick, or unable to get to the bank.

You choose the account where your Social Security payment is deposited. If you don’t have a bank account, you can use the Direct Express (www.godirect.gov) prepaid debit card to receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and other Federal benefit payments. With this card, you can make purchases, pay bills and withdraw cash.

Q: How does a blind or visually impaired person choose how Social Security communicates with them about important information?

A: Blind or visually impaired beneficiaries can receive information from Social Security in different ways. To learn about notification options:

  • Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/notices and go to the page, “If You Are Blind Or Visually Impaired—Your Choices For Receiving Information from Social Security”
  • Call toll-free at 1-877-708-1776 (TTY 1-800-325-0778)
  • Contact your local Social Security office
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you live outside the United States

Q: What is a disability trial work period?

A: The “trial work period” allows Social Security disability beneficiaries to test their ability to work for at least nine trial work months within a 60-month period. During the trial work period, you can receive full benefits no matter how much you earn, as long as you remain disabled and you report your work activity. For more information about work incentives see our publication Working While Disabled—How We Can Help at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10095.html.

Q: What are the “Parts” of Medicare?

A: There are four (A-D) Medicare parts:

  • Hospital insurance (Part A) helps pay hospital bills and some follow-up care. The taxes you or your spouse paid while working finances this coverage, so it’s premium free. For those who are not “insured,” coverage may be purchased.
  • Medical insurance (Part B) helps pay doctors’ bills and other services. There is a monthly premium you must pay for Medicare Part B or you may refuse this coverage.
  • Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans, which generally covers the same benefits as a Medigap policy, such as extra days in the hospital after you have used the number of days Medicare covers. People with Medicare Parts A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through one of these provider organizations under Part C. There might be additional premiums required for some plans.
  • Prescription drug coverage (Part D) helps pay for prescription drugs. Anyone who has a Medicare Part A, Part B, or Part C is eligible for prescription drug coverage (Part D). Joining a Medicare Part D plan is voluntary and you pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage. To learn more about Medicare benefits, read our publication, Medicare, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043.html.

Q: I can’t get health insurance because of my pre-existing condition. Is there anything I can do?

A: You may be eligible for the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan—a program for people who have a pre-existing condition and have been without health insurance coverage for at least six months. For more information, call toll-free: 1-866-717-5826 (TTY 1-866-561-1604), 8 a.m.–11 p.m. (Eastern Time). Or visit www.pcip.gov and select “Find Your State” to learn about eligibility and how to apply.