Request your Social Security Statement online!

Your Social Security Statement is an important tool in applying for Social Security disability benefit. The statement provides a year by year listing of your earnings and an estimate of your retirement and disability benefits.

Social Security used to mail the statement annually, about three months before your birthday. As of 2011, Social Security no longer mails out the Social Security Statement, except to workers 60 or over who are not yet receiving benefits. However as of May 1, 2012, you can request a statement online.

If you are not able to confirm your identity via the Social Security website, you can also request a “SEQY” (which lists your earnings) from your local Social Security office. You can then use the information in the SEQY with the online Social Security calculators to obtain an estimate of your Social Security disability benefits and Social Security retirement benefits.

07/05/12 UPDATE: A reader inform me that once you apply for Social Security disability benefits, Social Security locks you out of requesting an online Social Security statement the monthly benefit amount is no longer available, however you can still view your earnings. The only recommendation I can offer is to request the Social Security statement before you apply (if possible). Anyone else having this problem?

Social Security’s phone number in Colorado Springs

If you need to call the Colorado Springs Social Security office by phone, it can be difficult to find the correct telephone number. Our office receives a number of calls a day because the numbers currently pulled up by Google have been disconnected! Social Security is transitioning to new phone system and the search engines have not caught up yet.

Well don’t worry, here are the numbers to call for the Colorado Springs Social Security office:

(888) 880-0688

TTY (719) 597-2770.

If you need a different Social Security office, SSA has a webpage for finding your local Social Security office address and telephone number. You can also reach a Social Security representative at the national toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213.

If you need to find the Colorado Springs Social Security office, it is at the following address Continue reading Social Security’s phone number in Colorado Springs

Best Practices for Social Security Disability Representatives

Social Security has a great overview site for new Social Security disability representatives (both lawyers and non-lawyers) going over best practices before the Social Security Administration.

Here are some good tips:

  1. Timely submit the form ssa-1696 and fee agreement.
  2. Timely alert the hearing office of any change of address or phone number for either yourself or the claimant.
  3. Do not submit duplicative evidence.
  4. Submit evidence as far in advance of the hearing as possible, using electronic records express.
  5. Before faxing evidence, check to ensure the evidence you are submitting matches the claimant.
  6. Make sure the barcode is the first item faxed in order to ensure proper identification of all records.

Check out Best Practices for Social Security representatives.

How to report a lost or stolen Social Security card

I previously wrote about how to replace a lost or stolen Social Security card. However, I am often asked who to report a lost or stolen Social Security card to.

Fortunately Social Security has a page on this very topic:

You can replace your Social Security card for free if it is lost or stolen. However, you may not need to get a replacement card. Knowing your Social Security number is what is important. Social Security does not take reports of lost or stolen Social Security cards or numbers. If you have lost your card, you may apply for a replacement but Social Security takes no action just because it has been lost or stolen.

However, a person using your card or number can get other personal information about you and apply for credit in your name. So if you suspect someone is using your number, you should take these steps to protect yourself and your financial health:

  • Educate yourself about identity theft;
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission(1-877-ID-THEFT or 1-877-438-4338);
  • File an online complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at;
  • Check your Social Security records (call toll-free 1-800-772-1213; TTY 1-800-325-0778) to ensure your income is calculated correctly; and
  • Monitor your credit reports.

For more information, see:

Keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers. Do not carry it with you.

You are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. For example, changes in noncitizen status that require card updates may not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship.

The FTC website provides additional information if you are the victim of identity theft, including how to file an identity theft police reporthow to put a fraud alert on your credit report, and how to set up a credit freeze reducing the chances that someone can take out a line of credit based on your identity.

Are Social Security disability benefits taxable?

Social Security and taxes

People often ask, “Do I have to pay taxes on Social Security benefits?”

SSI benefits are not federally taxable.

Things get a bit more complicated with SSDI benefits. Here is the answer directly from Social Security:

Question: I receive Social Security disability benefits.  Do I have to pay income tax on these benefits?

Answer: You will have to pay federal taxes on your benefits if you file a federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000.  If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000.

Social Security has no authority to withhold state or local taxes from your benefit.  Many states and local authorities do not tax Social Security benefits.  You should contact your state or local taxing authority for more information.

For more information, call the Internal Revenue Service toll-free at 1-800-829-3676 and ask for Publication No. 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.

If you wish to have federal taxes withheld from your check, read: Withholding income tax from your Social Security benefits.

Via Social Security’s FAQ page.

02/15/10 Update: Keep in mind that the law (including tax law) is subject to change. I encourage readers to check the Social Security site and discuss the taxability of benefits with their tax preparer.

02/26/10 Update:

  • Gordon Gates has a great post on this topic here.
  • The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives has a quick information page about Social Security and taxes here.

01/14/11 Update: updating answer based on change on Social Security’s FAQ page.

01/04/12 Updated to discuss SSI benefits.

Where is your Social Security file? Try the automated file locator

find your Social Security file

This is just pure gold.  I wish I could take credit for finding this, but Gordon Gates deserves major kudos for discovering this service.

…there is a number (not a person) to call to inquire about a Social Security disability claim. Call the automated file locator number: 1-410-965-8882. The number is available only during business hours. You will be asked for the first 5 digits of your client’s Social Security number.

The automated file locator will give you the telephone number of the office handling that claim. When you call that phone number, you get to talk with a person who can actually help you.

So, if you need to find out where your file is? Call (410) 965-8882.

via Social Security Disability Lawyer | Maine Social Security Attorney | New Hampshire: Social Security Automated File Locator.

Save yourself a trip to Social Security – Use SSA Online!

Use the web to make solve your Social Security problems

Before you put yourself through the drudgery of going down to your local Social Security office, check the Social Security website to see if you can take care of your problem without going in.  

There are a lot of things you can take care of online. Continue reading Save yourself a trip to Social Security — Use SSA Online!

Social Security Judge’s approval or denial numbers published by Oregonian

Uncertain judge

Would you like to know what percentage of cases the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to your Social Security disability, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case, approves and denies?

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Oregonian, the Social Security Administration released the production numbers and approval rates for all of its administrative law judges. The agency released complete reports for 2005, 2006 and 2007. The table for 2008 covers most — but not all — of the year.

Click below and enter the Judge’s name to see the statistics for that judge. Continue reading Social Security Judge’s approval or denial numbers published by Oregonian

Social Security Benefit Calculators

Do you want to know how much you would receive in Social Security benefits if you were disabled, retired, or if your spouse died?  

Social Security has online calculators, as well as calculators you can download (Mac versions too), to help you estimate what your Social Security benefits will be. 

If you have problems using these calculators, Social Security also estimates your retirement, disability, and family maximum benefits in the “Social Security Statement” it mails to you every year before your birthday. Tip: the benefit estimates usually appears in the inner, left page.  

Have you tried Social Security’s benefit calculators?  Were they easy to use, or did you have problems?  Tell us in the comments!

Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool checks if you can get Social Security

If you wonder if you are eligible for Social Security benefits, Social Security has an interactive website to help you answer this question.

Visit Social Security’s BEST (Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool). 

BEST checks if you are eligible for the following benefits:

  • Medicare
  • Social Security Disability
  • Social Security Retirement
  • Social Security Survivors
  • Special Veterans
  • Supplemental Security Income

Have you tried BEST, share your experiences in the comments!

How to find your local Social Security office

Whether you are applying for benefits or need to get a form, sometimes you just need to find the closest Social Security office.

The Social Security website has a great tool to help you find your local Social Security office.

Just enter your zip code and Social Security will tell you which office is closest to you and serves your area.

This will also give you a map, telephone numbers, and office hours.

How to apply for Social Security disability benefits

There are several ways to start an application for Social Security benefits:

At your local Social Security office

While this make take the longest amount of time (depending on the wait times at your local office), applying in person has the advantage of having a live person to ask to if you have a question.  The downside of applying in person is that if you are missing a critical piece of information, you may not be able to complete the application.

If you need help finding your local Social Security office, click here.


If you prefer to work at your own pace, you can apply online.  Start here and follow the three steps to get an application started.

If you are applying for a child, start at the children’s disability page.

By telephone

If you need help or if you cannot complete the application online, you can call Social Security toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or have hearing problems, you can call the toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.  Social Security representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

When you are ready to apply:

Don’t forget to check out this article about the documents you need to apply for Social Security disability benefits.

Also, check out all the articles on applying for Social Security.

Warning about Social Security’s online services

Paul Nidich has a warning about using the online services at Social Security’s website.

Tuesday I posted a message with information about the Social Security Administration’s new benefits’ estimator and other online services. Use these new tools, but use them with caution. Assume that the “bugs” haven’t yet been worked out of the system, and DO NOT make any critical decisions based upon these new tools.

I spoke with an old friend Tuesday night who used to work for Social Security. As we were discussing my message, he commented that it would probably take a good two years before all of the bugs got worked out of the online system. You can apply for benefits online, he said; but if you don’t talk to a live social security representative, you can wind up making binding decisions that are not in your best interest.

Update: unfortunately, Paul’s has discontinued his site and it is no longer on the web.