published Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Social Security: Recipients pay taxes if they return to work

By Martin Coffey

Q: "I am receiving Social Security retirement benefits and I recently went back to work. Do I have to pay Social Security [FICA] taxes on my income?"

A: Yes. By law, your employer must withhold FICA taxes from your paycheck. Although you are retired, you do receive credit for those new earnings. Each year Social Security automatically credits the new earnings and, if your new earnings are higher than in any earlier year used to calculate your current benefit, your monthly benefit could increase.

For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Q: "I've heard there is a way for my daughter to get her disability application on the "fast-track." How does this work?"

A: If your daughter has one of the more than 100 impairments on the Compassionate Allowances list at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances, her application might be "fast-tracked" for a decision.

Compassionate Allowances make it possible for applicants to receive a decision on their disability applications within days instead of months or years as long as their medical conditions are so severe that they obviously meet Social Security's definition of disability. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

Q: "Do I automatically get Medicare benefits if I'm eligible for disability benefits?"

A: After you have received disability benefits for 24 months, we will automatically enroll you in Medicare. We start counting the 24 months from the month you were entitled to receive disability, not the month when you received your first benefit payment.

Sometimes you can get state Medicaid in the meantime. There are exceptions to this rule. People with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) and chronic renal disease may be able to get Medicare earlier. For more information, visit or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Get answers to your Social Security questions each Thursday from the Social Security District Director Martin Coffey. Submit questions 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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