Social Security and Medicare

If you are experiencing difficulties with the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), my office may be able to help. Please complete a Privacy Release form and return it to me at:
111 Rockville Pike, Suite 960
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (301) 545-1500
Fax: (301) 545-1512
assistance@vanhollen.senate.gov

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for Social Security benefits?

To apply for benefits, please contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or visit  onlineservices and click on the “Apply for Social Security benefits” tab.
To obtain a Social Security card, please visit www.ssa.gov/ssnumber.

How do I apply for retirement benefits?

To apply for retirement benefits, please visit www.ssa.gov/retire.
In order to be eligible for retirement benefits, you must have enough “credits” (10 years of work – you earn one credit per certain amount of money that you earn); have paid into Social Security; and be fully insured under the Social Security system.
The amount you receive depends on how much you earned when you were working.
You can also delay applying for Social Security retirement. If you do so, your extra income may increase your benefit amount, and you will receive a credit. To find out more, please call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

How do I apply for Survivors’ benefits?

To apply for survivors’ benefits, please visit https://www.ssa.gov/survivors/.
A family member or other person responsible for the beneficiary’s affairs should do the following:

  • Promptly notify Social Security of the beneficiary’s death by calling 1-800-772-1213
  • If monthly benefits were being paid via direct deposit, notify the bank or other financial institution of the beneficiary’s death. Request that any funds received after the death of the beneficiary be returned to Social Security as soon as possible.
  • If benefits were being paid by check, DO NOT CASH any checks received for the month in which the beneficiary died or thereafter. Return the checks to Social Security as soon as possible.

A one-time payment of $255 is payable to the surviving spouse if (s)he was living with the beneficiary at the time of death, OR if living apart, was eligible for Social Security benefits on the beneficiary’s earnings record for the month of death.
If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who was eligible for benefits on the beneficiary’s earnings record in the month of death.
Monthly survivors’ benefits can be paid to certain family members, including the beneficiary’s widow or widower, dependent children and dependent parents.

How do I apply for disability benefits?

To apply for disability benefits, please visit www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability.
In order to be approved for disability benefits, you must prove the following:

  • You are unable to perform work that you were able to do before, and your disability must be expected to last 12 months or result in death
  • You cannot adjust to other work because of a medical condition

If you do receive disability benefits, they won’t begin until the sixth full month after the date the SSA decides the disability began. In addition, you must wait two years before you qualify for Medicare coverage.

How do I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI is an income assistance program administered by the SSA for people who are elderly (65 or older), blind, or disabled (physical or mental problem expected to last at least one year or result in death); or whose income follows these guidelines: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-income-ussi.htm.
For the most current information on SSI requirements, please call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or visit https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-eligibility-ussi.htm. You can generally expect an answer on whether you are eligible for SSI within two to six months.

How do I apply for Medicare benefits?

If you are already receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits or railroad retirement checks, Social Security will contact you a few months before you become eligible for Medicare and give you the information you need to register.
You should sign up for Medicare even if you don’t plan to retire at age 65, or you may be penalized a 10% premium surcharge for each year past age 65 that you do not have Medicare.
However, if you are age 65 or older and are covered under a group health plan either from your own employment or you are covered from your spouse’s employment, you may delay enrolling in Medicare medical insurance (Part B) without having to wait for a general enrollment period or pay the 10% premium surcharge for late employment.
The rules allow you to:

  • Enroll in Part B any time you are covered under the group health plan, or
  • Enroll in Part B during an eight-month special enrollment period that begins with the month your group health coverage ends or the month your employment ends, whichever comes first

I disagree with the SSA’s decision on my claim. How can I appeal?
Please visit www.ssa.gov/pubs/10041.html or call 1-800-772-1213 to file an appeal. All appeals should be sent to your local office; to find your local office, please visit www.ssa.gov/locator.

Where can I find more information?

To find more information about Maryland programs for seniors, visit www.aging.maryland.gov. You can also call 410-767-1100, 800-243-3425 (toll-free), or 410-767-1083 (TTY).
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offer consumer resources at www.medicare.gov and 1-800-MEDICARE.
The Social Security Administration has several helpful publications on its website, visit https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/.