published Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Social Security: Going back to work can boost your benefits

Gregory Holmes

Q: My neighbor, who is retired, told me that the income he receives from his part-time job at the local nursery gives him an increase in his Social Security benefits. Is that right?

A: Retirees who return to work after they start receiving benefits may be able to receive a higher benefit based on those earnings. This is because Social Security automatically recomputes the retirement benefit after crediting the additional earnings to the individual's earnings record. Learn more by reading the publication How Work Affects Your Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10069.html.

Q: I get Social Security because of a disability. How often will my case be reviewed to determine if I'm still eligible?

A: How often we review your medical condition depends on how severe it is and the likelihood it will improve. Your award notice tells you when you can expect your first review using the following terminology:

• Medical improvement expected. If your condition is expected to improve within a specific time, your first review will be six to 18 months after you started getting disability benefits.

• Medical improvement possible. If improvement in your medical condition is possible, your case will be reviewed about every three years.

• Medical improvement not expected. If your medical condition is unlikely to improve, your case will be reviewed about once every five to seven years.

Q: I am applying for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. Can state agencies help with my Medicare costs?

A: When you file your application for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs, you also can start your application process for the Medicare Savings Programs -- state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs. When you apply for Extra Help, Social Security will send information to your state unless you tell us not to on the application. Your state will contact you to help you apply for a Medicare Savings Program.

Submit questions to local Social Security Director Gregory Holmes 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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