Q. I applied for a replacement Social Security card last week but haven’t received it yet. When should I expect to receive my new card?

A: You’ll usually receive your replacement card in about 10 days. We work hard to protect you, to prevent identity theft, and to ensure the integrity of your Social Security number. To do that, we have to verify documents you present as proof of identity. In some cases, we must verify the documents before we can issue the card. For more information about your Social Security card and number, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

 

RETIREMENT

Q: How are my retirement benefits calculated?

A: Your Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over your lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or “indexed” to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then we calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit. This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age. You may be able to estimate your benefit by using our Retirement Estimator which offers estimates based on your Social Security earnings. You can find the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

DISABILITY

Q: My husband has been in poor health for some time, and doctors have recently diagnosed him with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I’ve heard Social Security has a “fast track” for some people who are disabled. Can you tell me about it?

 
 

A: We have two processes to “fast track” applications for disability benefits. Our Compassionate Allowances initiative allows us to fast track certain cases of individuals with very severe disabilities. There are dozens of different types of disabilities that qualify for this expedited decision, including ALS, and that list continues to expand. Learn more about Compassionate Allowances and see the full list of conditions at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

Another way we speed up decisions is with our Quick Disability Determinations initiative, which uses technology to identify applicants who have the most severe disabilities and allows us to expedite our decisions on those cases. Read more about Quick Disability Determinations at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/qdd.htm.

MEDICARE

Q: How do I terminate my Medicare Part B (medical insurance)?

A: You can voluntarily terminate your Medicare Part B (medical insurance). Because this is a serious decision that could have negative ramifications for you in the future, you’ll need to have a personal interview with a Social Security representative first. The representative will help you complete Form CMS 1763. This form isn’t available online. To schedule your interview, call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., or contact your nearest Social Security office. For more information, go to www.medicare.gov.