How To Get A Social Security Award Letter
Millions of Americans each year rely on Social Security benefits to make ends meet making it the most expensive U.S. government program. Funded by taxpayers' money, specific requirements must be met to receive these benefits.
The application process for these benefits can range from very simple to complicated but almost have one thing in common, award letters. This is an important part of the process to receive benefits for which you are eligible.
In this post we will take a look at award letters and how you can get one.
What Is a Social Security Award Letter?
Social Security award letters are also known as benefit verification letters so this may give a clue as to what these documents are. You apply for a specific benefit and hopefully you get approved if you meet the eligibility requirements.
Should you qualify you will receive a Social Security award letter. This is a statement that is issued by the Social Security Administration that you have been approved and will be receiving benefits. Why is this important?
Essentially this document confirms that you will begin receiving benefits. This means you can present this to lenders as a proof of income should you require a loan.
It can often take a while to receive the award letter even after you have already been informed that you were accepted into the benefits program. Typically it can take between 30-90 days after your application for benefits has been approved.
As it may take some time you should be prepared to wait for this letter as there really is no way to expedite it. The creation of this letter starts automatically once you are awarded but this process can take time.
The Social Security award letter will spell out all the important information regarding your newly acquired benefits. This is something we will get more deeply into later in the post but information such as benefit amounts and pay schedule are included.
What Is the Purpose of The Social Security Award Letter?
You might wonder what importance a letter has that might arrive weeks or even months after your benefit actually starts. Firstly we should mention that there are several different names for this type of letter.
- Budget letter
- Benefits letter
- Social Security proof of income letter
- Income verification letter
- Award letter
- Social Security benefit verification letter
All of these named documents are essentially the same type of letter.
The main reason you might require this letter is if you are applying for any kind of a loan such as a mortgage for example. The lender will want a copy of this letter so they can confirm how much you have in income each month.
You also may need to supply a copy of this letter to prove eligibility for certain types of housing or as proof of Medicare for health insurance purposes.
The Social Security award letter can also be used to verify that you do not receive certain benefits. There may be situations in which you need to prove you have applied for or have never received benefits in the past. This award letter can stand as proof on those occasions.
What Is in a Social Security Award Letter?
As mentioned, award letters have many different names but are essentially the same type of document. As such these documents follow a pretty consistent formula when it comes to the information included. It is important upon receipt of your letter to ensure you check each piece of information provided.
If there is anything in the award letter that is wrong or that you do not agree with you may have recourse to appeal the decision.
Taxability of Benefits
This may be frustrating for some people to find out but certain benefits are eligible for taxation. So within your award letter you will find information regarding if and how much your new benefit income can be taxed.
There are taxes such as Supplemental Security Income which assists very low income individuals that are definitely not taxable. Benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance and retirement payments that also fall below the taxable limits. If you get a high benefit payment month however it could reach a taxable limit.
It can often occur that if you get a lump sum payment for back payments this may drive up your overall yearly income and render some of it taxable.
Back Pay Dates and Amounts
Sometimes you may have been eligible for benefits prior to your actual application. In this case you will likely receive back pay in the form of a large prorated payment in your first month of active benefits. Some benefits systems may actually break up this back pay into monthly installments added to your new regular payment amount.
You will likely find both the dates from which the back pay was from and the amounts of the payments close together in the letter. If for example you qualified for disability benefits 12 months ago but have just been approved then you will receive a year's worth of back pay which will be outlined in the award letter.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are notoriously complicated to get even when you clearly meet the requirements. The initial application and subsequent first appeal are often denied. This usually means you will need to go to court and may need a disability attorney.
These attorneys may defer payment until they get your benefits for you and will actually be paid out of your awarded money. The award letter will usually show you how much is owed to the attorney and who that person was.
They do not make SSDI applications easy so many people will end up needing the assistance of an attorney. They are usually paid out of the lump sum payment you receive which in some cases include 2 years of back pay.
The monthly payment dates can be very variable when it comes to benefits. It can depend on the type of benefit and the manner in which you chose to receive the funds. Although physical checks are still a thing many people today choose direct deposit.
Your award letter will give you details about your upcoming payment dates which may be very important. This will allow you to budget accordingly so that you have enough money to last until your next payments.
Your Benefit Payment Amount
Finally the most important piece of information you will find on the award letter is how much you will be receiving monthly. Each program has its own regulations so they will calculate what you are eligible for based on past Social Security contributions and current income rates.
These calculations will usually be spelt out allowing you to understand why you are being given a certain amount. Generally speaking once an amount is set it will remain at that level unless there are changes to the situation. Payments, however, do change incrementally based on cost of living adjustments as determined by congress.
How Do I Get a Copy of My Social Security Award Letter?
As mentioned, within 30 – 90 days of being approved you can expect to receive your award letter to the address on file with the Social Security Administration. And if this letter does not arrive or is lost you can easily request a new copy.
You will have to visit www.socialsecurity.gov and either sign in to or sign up for a My Social Security account. Once into your account you can simply print out a new copy of the award letter. If you already have a My Social Security account this will take mere minutes.
Appealing the Letter
If something in the letter is incorrect or you do not agree with some element of it you must appeal immediately. You only have 60 days to appeal the information contained in the letter so waste no time.
Failing to lodge an appeal within the 60 days signifies your acceptance of the letter's content and means no changes can be made. Once you appeal the Social Security Administration will reassess the situation and re-determine the benefits.
If these are still not acceptable you can again appeal but this time it will be taken in front of a judge and you may need the help of an attorney. The judge then may decide in your favor or uphold the original decision.
The Social Security award letter is an important document that only spells out information regarding your benefits but also can be used as proof of income. You may need this document to secure loans, housing and other benefits.
Once you have applied for a Social Security benefit you will eventually receive a decision on your benefit eligibility. Within 30 – 90 days of this decision you should receive an award letter that outlines your benefits, pay schedule and any back pay amounts.
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