Social Security Q&A: Ask and Get it Clear

Social Security can get a bit tricky, so we’ve brought in some help — Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay, a Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Hawaii. Below are answers to a few FAQs:

Q: When will I get my automatic Social Security Statement?

A: If you are at least 25 years old and not yet receiving benefits, you should receive your annual Social Security Statement about three months before your birthday. If your automatic Statement has not arrived and you are within one month before the month of your birth or if you need a Statement sooner, you can request one at any time by going to You can learn more about the Social Security Statement and how to use it at

Q: My neighbor, who is retired, told me that the income he receives from his part-time job at the local nursery gives him an increase in his Social Security benefits. If I go back to work will my benefits increase?

A: If you return to work after you start receiving benefits, you may be able to receive a higher benefit based on those earnings. This is because Social Security automatically recomputes the benefit after crediting the additional earnings to the individual’s earnings record. If those earnings are higher than one of the years of earnings we used to compute your current benefit, your benefit may be increased. Learn more about how we calculate your retirement benefit by reading the publication Your Retirement Benefit: How It Is Figured, available at If you are not already receiving benefits, you also may want to test out how changes in wages and retirement ages will affect your future benefit by using the Retirement Estimator at

Q: Can I get both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and Social Security benefits at the same time?

A: Many people eligible for SSI may also be entitled to Social Security benefits. In fact, the application for SSI also is an application for Social Security benefits. Eligibility for SSI depends on your income and resources, so if you receive a large Social Security check, you won’t be eligible for SSI. However, if your Social Security payment is low and your overall income and resources are low, you might be eligible to receive an SSI payment to supplement your Social Security benefits. To learn more about SSI, read the publication You May Be Able To Receive SSI at

Q: I lost my Social Security card, but I remember my number and I don’t plan to change careers anytime soon. Do I really need a new card?

A: The only time you may need the card is when you apply for a job and your prospective employer asks to see it. If you do decide to get a new card or your old one turns up, don’t carry it with you. Keep your card somewhere safe, with your other important papers. You are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. For example, changes in marital status that might require card updates do not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship. Learn more at

Q: Why is there a five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?

A: By law, Social Security disability benefits can be paid only after a worker has been disabled continuously throughout a period of five full calendar months. The first benefit paid is for the sixth month of disability and is paid in the seventh month. This waiting period ensures that we pay benefits only to persons with long-term disabilities and avoid duplicating other income protection plans (such as employer sick-pay plans) during the early months of disability. To learn more, read our online publication, Disability Benefits at


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