Questions and Answers
By Erin Thompson, Public Affairs Specialist in Toledo, OH
Is it true I must now receive my benefits through direct
Anyone applying for benefits on or after May 1, 2011, will
be required to receive their payments electronically. Paper
checks will no longer be an option for most people. If you
donít have a bank account, you can get your benefits through
the Direct Express debit MasterCard. Switching from checks
to electronic payments is fast, easy, and free at
www.godirect.org. You also can call the U.S. Treasury
Processing Centerís toll-free helpline at 1-800-333-1795,
speak with a bank or credit union representative, or contact
Social Security for help.
Recently, I was told I shouldnít be carrying my Social
Security card around. Is that true?
We encourage you to keep your Social Security card at home
in a safe place. Do not carry it with you unless you are
taking it to a job interview or to someone who requires it.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in
America and the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to
safeguard your Social Security card and number. To learn
I just started my first job and my paycheck is less than I
expected. Why am I paying for retirement benefits when I
have a lifetime to live before retirement?
Besides being required by law, you are securing your own
financial future through the payment of Social Security and
Medicare taxes. The taxes you pay now translate to a
lifetime of protection, whether you retire or become
disabled. And when you die, your family (or future family)
may be able to receive survivors benefits based on your work
as well. Aside from all the benefits in your own future,
your Social Security and Medicare payments also help todayís
retirees. To learn more, visit
I got an email that says itís from Social Security, but Iím
not so sure. They want me to reply with my Social Security
number, date of birth, and motherís maiden name for
ďverification.Ē Did it really come from Social Security?
No. Social Security will not send you an email asking you to
share your personal information, such as your Social
Security number, date of birth, or other private
information. Beware of such scamsótheyíre after your
information so they can use it for their own benefit. When
in doubt, or if you have any questions about correspondence
you receive from Social Security, contact your local Social
Security office or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY
1-800-325-0778) to see whether we really need any
information from you.
Iím creating my budget for next year. How much will my
benefit increase at the beginning of the year?
The annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is tied to the
Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) as determined by the Department
of Laborís Bureau of Labor Statistics. For 2020 the Cost of
living allowance is 1.6 Percent.