Social Security Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions about Social Security. If you did not find the question you were looking for, then we suggest you contact your local Social Security office. They should be able to assist you with any questions or issues about your benefits or other federal programs such as Supplemental Security Income.


Can I return to work while getting Social Security disability benefits?

Yes, you can return to work while receiving Social Security disability benefits. They have special rules to help you get back to work without jeopardizing your initial benefits. You may be able to have a trial work period for nine months to test whether you can work.

If you get disability benefits and your condition improves or you return to work, report these changes to the SSA by calling 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) or contacting your local Social Security office.


How do I check the status of a pending application for benefits?

If you applied for benefits, you can check the Status of Your Social Security Application online.

Your application status shows:


You cannot check the status of an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits online. If you are unable to check your status online, you can:


How can I get a record of my Social Security earnings?

You can get your personal Social Security Statement online by using your my Social Security account. Your online Statement gives you secure and convenient access to your earnings records. It also shows estimates for retirement, disability and survivors benefits.


Can I laminate my Social Security card?

Do not laminate your card. Lamination prevents detection of many security features. However, you may cover the card with plastic or other removable material if it does not damage the card.


Can I change my Social Security number?

They can assign a different number only if:


When they assign a different Social Security number, SSA do not destroy the original number. They cross-refer the new number with the original number to make sure the person receives credit for all earnings under both numbers. People who want to ask for a new Social Security number must:


For more information about changing your Social Security number in domestic violence cases, see New Numbers For Domestic Violence Victims. To request a different Social Security number, contact your local Social Security office for an in-person appointment.


Can I refuse to give my Social Security number to a private business?

Anyone can refuse to disclose his or her number, but the requester can refuse its services if you do not give it. Businesses, banks, schools, private agencies, etc., are free to request someone's number and use it for any purpose that does not violate a federal or state law. Sometimes they will issue a different number if you ask.


How far in advance can I apply for Social Security retirement benefits?

You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits when you are at least 61 years and 9 months of age. You should apply three months before you want your benefits to start. Even if you are not ready to retire, you still should sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday. When you're ready to apply, use their online retirement application.


Withholding Income Tax From Your Social Security Benefits

You can ask to withhold federal taxes from your Social Security when you apply for benefits. If you are already receiving benefits or if you want to change or stop your withholding, you'll need a form W-4V from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

You can download the form, or call the IRS toll-free number 800-829-3676 and ask for Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request. (If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the IRS TTY number, 1-800-829-4059.)

When you complete the form, you will need to select the percentage of your monthly benefit amount you want withheld. You can have 7%, 10%, 15% or 25% of your monthly benefit withheld for taxes.

Note: Only these percentages can be withheld. Flat dollar amounts are not accepted. If you want to know how much a particular percentage is equal to in dollars, call 800-772-1213. (If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the TTY number, 800-325-0778.)