by Kirk Larson
Social Security Washington State Public Affairs Specialist
Traditionally, on Memorial Day we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Social Security respects the heroism and courage of our military service members, and we remember those who have given their lives in defense of freedom.
The unexpected loss of a service member is a difficult experience for the family. Social Security helps by providing benefits to protect service members’ dependents. Widows, widowers and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. You can learn more about Social Security survivors benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.
It’s also important to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we have the obligation to serve them. Social Security has benefits to protect veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty.
Wounded military service members also can receive expedited processing of their disability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total.
Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive benefits.
You can get answers to commonly asked questions and find useful information about the application process at www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors.
Service members also can receive Social Security in addition to military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit does not reduce your Social Security retirement benefit.
Learn more about Social Security retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement.
Service members also are eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the VA or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare.
In acknowledgment of those who died for our country, those who served and those who serve today, we at Social Security honor and thank you.
Get into the act with Older Americans Month
In May, we recognize Older Americans Month to acknowledge older Americans and their contributions to the nation.
More than 40 million people in the United States are 65 or older. By 2035, the U.S. Census Bureau projects this number will double, which makes improving the quality of life for older Americans even more important as we look to the future. It is Social Security’s priority to provide a safety net for older Americans. You can learn more about Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov.
The main reason Social Security was established over 80 years ago was to help older Americans. For many older Americans, Social Security benefits are their only source of retirement income. Social Security payments continue for life and are adjusted to keep pace with inflation. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) estimates that these benefits help keep 35 percent of older Americans out of poverty.
A great tool for people of all ages is the my Social Security account. With a personalized my Social Security account, you can:
• Get an estimate of future benefits, if you still work;
• Get an instant letter with proof of current benefits; and
• Manage your benefits.
Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and join the millions of people who already have created accounts to help them plan for retirement.
This May also marks the 51st anniversary of the Older Americans Act. Congress passed the Act in 1965 in response to a lack of community social services for older persons. In addition, Medicare, in effect since July 1, 1966, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Medicare provides health insurance to more than 43 million Americans age 65 and older.
If you aren’t familiar with the four parts of Medicare, they are: Part A-hospital insurance; Part B-medical insurance; Part C-Medicare Advantage plans, and Part D-prescription drug coverage.
To learn more about applying for Medicare, read our publication “Applying For Medicare Only — Before You Decide.” To learn more about Social Security, read “Understanding the Benefits.” Both are available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.