Social Security Q&A: Will Inheritance Reduce SSI Payments?

Question: I get Supplemental Security Income because I am elderly and have no income. My sister recently died and left me the money she had in a savings account. Will this extra money affect my SSI benefits? Will my SSI payments stop?

Answer: The money inherited from your sister is considered income for the month you receive it and could make you ineligible for that month, depending on the amount of the inheritance. If you keep the money into the next month, it then becomes a part of your resources. You cannot have more than $2,000 in resources and remain eligible for SSI benefits ($3,000 for a couple). Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to report the inheritance. A representative will tell you how your eligibility and payment amount might be affected.

Q: What’s the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker? How is the retirement benefit amount calculated?

A: The current average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker is $1,294. Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over most of a worker’s lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or “indexed” to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. We calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. Social Security applies a formula to these earnings and arrives at your basic benefit amount.

Q: If I retire at age 62, will I be eligible for Medicare?

A: No. Medicare starts when you reach 65. If you retire at 62, you may be able to continue medical insurance coverage through your employer or purchase it from a private insurance company until you become eligible for Medicare. For more information see the publication Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Q: I recently applied for a replacement Social Security card, but I might be moving before it arrives in the mail. What should I do if I move before I get it?

A: Once Social Security has verified all your documents and processed your application, it takes approximately 10 to 14 days to receive your replacement Social Security card. If you move after applying for your new card, notify the post office of your change of address and the post office will forward your card to your new address. If you do not receive your card, please contact your local Social Security office. To get a replacement, you will have to resubmit your evidence of identity and United States citizenship, or your lawful immigration status and authority to work.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.