General questions and answers
Question: Do Members of Congress have to pay into Social Security?
Answer: Yes, they do. Members of Congress, the President and Vice President, federal judges, and most political appointees, have paid taxes into the Social Security program since January 1984. They pay into the system just like everyone else, no matter how long they have been in office. Learn more about Social Security benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Question: How do I change my citizenship status on Social Security’s records?
Answer: To change the citizenship shown on our records:
• Complete and print a new Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5) at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/ss5.htm; and
• Show us documents proving your:
• New or revised citizenship status (Only certain documents can be accepted as proof of citizenship. These include your U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization, or a Certificate of Citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen, Social Security will ask to see your current immigration documents);
• Age; and
• Take (or mail) your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
Question: How long does it take to complete the online application for Social Security retirement benefits?
Answer: It can take as little as 15 minutes to complete the online application. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically — you are done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation to mail in. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any additional information is needed. There is no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. To retire online, go to www.socialsecurity.gov.
Question: I have never worked, but my spouse has. What will my Social Security benefit be?
Answer: You can be entitled to as much as one-half of your spouse’s benefit amount if you start your benefits when you reach full retirement age. If you want to get Social Security retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age, the amount of your benefit will reduce. The amount of reduction depends on when you will reach full retirement age.
For example, if your full retirement age is 66, you can get 35 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62. The amount of your benefit increases at later ages up to the maximum of 50 percent if you retire at full retirement age. However, if you are taking care of a child who is under age 16 or who gets Social Security disability benefits, you get full benefits, regardless of your age. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/yourspouse.htm.
— Brenda Brown is a Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Fayetteville, N.C.