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SOCIAL SECURITY Q & amp;A



Published: Sun, February 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Q. I'm 56 years old and will retire in two years. I've earned about the national average income during all of my working life and don't plan to work after age 58. How will you calculate my Social Security benefit at age 62?

A. We use your highest 35 years of earnings to compute the benefit you would receive at full retirement -- age 65 for people born before 1938 or earlier. Years in which you have low earnings or no earnings may be counted to bring the total years of earnings up to 35. Next, your monthly benefit is reduced by five-ninths of 1 percent for each month you are retired before your full retirement.

For example, if your full retirement age is 65 and you sign up for Social Security when you're 64, you will receive 931/3 percent of your full benefit. At 62, you would get 80 percent. (Note: The reduction will be greater in future years as the full retirement age increases.)

Q. If I need to do business with Social Security, can I call ahead and make an appointment?

A. Yes, we encourage people to call ahead for an appointment. Sometimes, depending on the reason for the call, the Social Security representative may be able to take care of the business on the phone and save you a trip. To make an appointment, call Social Security's tollfree number, (800) 772-1213.

Q. My landlord needs proof of what I receive from Social Security. What can I use as proof?

A. Every year we will send you a Form SSA-1099 showing the amount of benefits you received in the past year. You can use this as proof. If you did not receive this form, log onto Web site -- www.ssa.gov -- to request one or call your local Social Security office.

Q. Does Social Security have any information specifically aimed at women?

A. Yes. The booklet, "Social Security What Every Woman Should Know," is available free from Social Security. If you have access to the Internet, this booklet is available at our Web site at www.ssa.gov or call Social Security at (800) 772-1213 to get a copy of the booklet.

XThis column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at (800) 772-1213.

Knight Ridder Newspapers




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