Question: I'm retired and the only income I have is from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Are my IRA withdrawals considered "earnings"? Could they reduce my monthly Social Security benefits?
Answer: No. We count only the wages you earn from a job or your net profit if you're self-employed. Non-work income such as annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits. Most pensions will not affect your benefits either. However, your benefit may be affected by a government pension from work on which you did not pay Social Security tax.
Question: I am applying for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. Can state agencies help with my Medicare costs?
Answer: When you file your application for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs, you also can start your application process for the Medicare Savings Programs - state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs. When you apply for Extra Help, Social Security will send information to your state unless you tell us not to on the application. Your state will contact you to help you apply for a Medicare Savings Program.
Question: I was turned down for Supplemental Security Income (SSI); can I appeal the decision?
Answer: If you disagree with a decision made on your claim, you can appeal it. The steps you can take are explained in "Your Right to Question a Decision Made on Your Supplemental Security Income Claim," available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ 11008.html.
Rebecca Miller is the manager of the Social Security Administration office in Wheeling.