Question: I heard recently that it was open season for Medicare Part D enrollment. Is there still time to apply?
Answer: Yes - but act fast, because open season ends soon! If you're a Medicare beneficiary who has not enrolled in the new Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program, you may do so during the open season, which began Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7. If you are covered by Medicare and have limited income and resources, the Extra Help available through Social Security can help ease the burden of Medicare prescription drug costs. You can apply for the Extra Help anytime - not just during open season. To learn more about the Extra Help and to apply, visit Social Security's website at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp. For Medicare Part D information, visit www.medicare.gov.
Question: I applied for a replacement Social Security card last week but have not received it. When should I expect to receive my new card?
Answer: On average, it takes approximately 10 to 14 days to receive your replacement Social Security card. However, if we need to verify documents you present as proof of identity, it could take longer in some cases. For more information about your Social Security card and number, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
Question: What can I do if I think someone has stolen my identity?
Answer: You should do several things, including:
Learn more by reading our publication, Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number, at www.socialsecurity.gov/ pubs/10064.html.
Question: I'm reaching my full retirement age and thinking about retiring in early 2013. When is the best time of year to apply for Social Security benefits?
Answer: If you are planning to retire in early 2013, you can apply now. You can apply as early as four months prior to when you want your monthly benefits to begin. To apply, just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. Applying online for retirement benefits from the convenience of your home or office is secure and can take as little as 15 minutes. It's so easy!
Question: I am about to apply for Social Security disability benefits. I have two children, ages 9 and 12. If my application is approved, will they get benefits, too? Or do the children also have to be disabled to qualify for benefits on my record?
Answer: If you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your children may receive dependent's benefits based on your work record, even if they're not disabled themselves. As long as you receive benefits, their benefits will continue until they reach age 18, or until age 19 if they are still in high school. If your children are disabled, however, at the time that they reach age 18, they may be able to continue receiving benefits into adulthood. For more information, visit our website on disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.
Question: I am 57 years old and I currently receive Social Security disability benefits. Can I still get my regular Social Security retirement benefits when I reach full retirement age?
Answer: If you are still receiving Social Security disability benefits when you reach your full retirement age, we will automatically switch you from disability benefits to retirement benefits at that point. The money amount will remain the same. For more information, visit our website on disability benefits at www.socialsecurity. gov/disability.
Question: My wife and I live in Minnesota, but plan to spend the winter in New Mexico. My wife will turn 62 while we are down south. Can she apply for benefits in New Mexico, or do we have to wait until we get back home to apply for retirement at our local Social Security office?
Answer: These days, you don't even have to be near a Social Security office to apply for benefits. Regardless of where you and your wife are living, you can apply for retirement benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. If she prefers, your wife can file a retirement benefit application at any Social Security office - including the one closest to you in Minnesota, New Mexico, or wherever you happen to be.
Rebecca Miller is the manager of the Social Security Administration office in Wheeling.