published Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Social Security: Why benefits differ among recipients

By Gregory Holmes
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    Gregory Holmes, district manager for Social Security

Q. My cousin and I are both retired and get Social Security. We worked for the same employer for years, but he gets a higher Social Security benefit. Why is that?

A. Your payments are based on your earnings over your lifetime. Unless you are both the same age, started and stopped work on the exact same dates, and earned the very same amount every year of your careers, you wouldn't get the same benefit as your cousin. Social Security benefits are based on many years of earnings -- generally your highest 35 years. To learn more about Social Security retirement benefits, visit www.socialsecurity.gov and select the "Retirement" link.

Q. My parents recently moved into a retirement community and they are signing their house over to me. Can I still get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or will home ownership make me ineligible?

A. You can own a home and still receive SSI as long as you live in the home you own. In most cases, when determining SSI eligibility we don't count as a resource the home you own and live in or the car you use. For more information about SSI and Social Security, visit www.socialsecurity.gov, or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Q. Will my Medicare coverage change because of the Affordable Care Act?

A. No, not at all. People who have Medicare coverage are not affected by the Affordable Care Act. Medicare is not a part of the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, your Medicare benefits are not changing. You do not need to replace your Medicare coverage with Marketplace coverage. For more information about the Marketplace, visit www.healthcare.gov. For more information about Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D, visit www.medicare.gov. Or read our publication on Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Gregory Holmes is district manager for Social Security in Chattanooga.

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