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SOCIAL SECURITY OFFERS : Includes Questions and Answers

Yolanda York, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in San Diego, CA
2009-04-27





San Diego- 4-27-09 Story Compilation

Social Security has just published a new online leaflet called Major Strategic Accomplishments — Fiscal Year 2008. The purpose of the document is “to let the American people know how the agency is working to improve public service and to provide accountability for the tax dollars that we spend,” said Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue.

In 2008, Social Security worked toward eliminating the disability hearings backlog and preventing its recurrence, processing about 575,000 hearings requests and 83,400 Appeals Council Reviews. Social Security improved the speed and quality of the disability process, processing about 2.6 million disability claims and 560,000 reconsiderations. We also implemented two processes -- Quick Disability Determinations and Compassionate Allowances -- to fast-track disability cases that have a high probability of allowance.

Social Security improved retiree and core services, processing about 4.24 million retirement and survivors applications and more than 18 million Social Security number requests. We also implemented the online Retirement Estimator to enable the public to get immediate and personalized benefit estimates.

Social Security preserved the public’s trust by issuing the Agency Strategic Plan to lay out our vision for the future and by earning the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting for our Performance and Accountability Report.

This is just a brief sampling of Social Security’s accomplishments in 2008. Social Security and its workers are always working to serve the American public in the best way possible. That ensures that Social Security is a sound investment even during these turbulent financial times.

For all Social Security accomplishes and offers to the American people, it’s reassuring to note that administrative costs are very low: only about 0.9 percent of total expenditures.

Find out more reasons Social Security is a good investment in America by reading our new publication, Major Strategic Accomplishments — Fiscal Year 2008, at MajorStrategicAccomplishmentsFY2008.pdf

Q And A

Shakespeare wrote “Beware the Ides of March,” but that was before tax day found a resting place on April 15 of each year. Let us help you “be aware” of some Social Security tax tips by answering some of the most common questions we receive about taxes and Social Security.

Are Social Security benefits taxable?

Sometimes. About one third of beneficiaries pay taxes on their Social Security. If your total income, including Social Security and all of your other taxable income, is $25,000 or more, you’ll need to pay federal taxes on your benefits. That amount is $32,000 for married couples filing a joint return.

Will I get a tax form for my Social Security benefits?

Yes, and you should have already received it. Social Security Benefit Statements (Form SSA-1099) for tax year 2008 were mailed to beneficiaries and should have been received by January 31, 2009. If you receive Social Security and haven’t received your 1099, you can request one online at secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/i1099/main.html .

We had a baby in 2008. Do we need a Social Security number for our taxes?

Yes. Most parents apply for their baby’s Social Security number while still in the hospital at the same time they apply for the birth certificate. But if you didn’t, you’ll need to apply for your child’s Social Security number in order to claim the child as a dependent on your tax return. You’ll also need it if you ever apply for government benefits on behalf of the child or your family.

I changed my name when I got married last year. Do I need to report it to Social Security?

Yes. If you’ve legally changed your name due to marriage, divorce, court order or for any other reason, make sure you change your name with Social Security. Make sure you change your name with your employer as well. If you change with one source but not the other, it could cause your earnings to be improperly recorded. You can learn more about Social Security numbers and how to change your name in Social Security’s records at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Does Social Security have any advice to make tax filing and future benefit applications go smoothly?

We strongly encourage you to carefully check your name, Social Security number and all of the data on your W-2s and on your Social Security Statement is correct. A mismatch could delay your tax refund and might cause problems with your Social Security benefits in the future. Such errors are easy to fix now. If you do notice an error, you should contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or if the incorrect information is on the W-2s, contact the personnel department of your employer.

Be aware of these Social Security tax tips, and you won’t be caught off-guard. For more information about Social Security, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

Part II will be poster on April 29th.






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