published Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Social Security: Some government workers aren't in system

Martin Coffey

Q: "Why doesn't my estimate using the Retirement Estimator take into account my work as a teacher? I've worked for 20 years for the state and thought it would count."

A: If you work for a state or local government agency -- including a school system, college or university -- your earnings may not be covered by Social Security. If you are covered only by your state or local pension plan and you don't pay Social Security taxes, your earnings won't be shown on your Social Security record. (Your record will show your Medicare wages if you pay into that program.)

For information on how your pension from noncovered state or local employment may affect the amount of your Social Security benefit, you can visit www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/wep-chart.htm

Q: "Can I receive Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits at the same time?"

A: You may be able to receive SSI benefits in addition to monthly

Social Security benefits if your Social Security benefit amount is low enough for you to qualify. Whether you can get SSI benefits depends on your income and resources (the things you own).

Social Security benefits you receive can make a difference in SSI eligibility and the amount you may be entitled to. You can find out more about the SSI program by going to www.socialsecurity.gov

Q: "Where can I go to find general information about Medicare benefits?"

A: Social Security determines whether people are entitled to Medicare benefits, but the program is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

You can visit CMS's Medicare website at www.medicare.gov, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Online or by phone, you can find answers to all your Medicare questions at CMS.

Submit questions to local Social Security Director Martin Coffey by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN 37401-1447, or by emailing him at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.

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