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Benefits can vary from state to state

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Q: Do Social Security amounts change when someone moves to a different state since living costs vary across the country?

A: Social Security benefit amounts are based primarily on a person's work record. Moving to a different part of the country will not change the amount. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) amounts can change when a person moves, whether across the street or across the country.

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As a need based program, changes to income, resources and living arrangements can increase or decrease SSI monthly amounts. In addition, some states add to the Federal SSI amounts and those state amounts can change depending on where a person lives.

If you move, update your address with Social Security whether you receive Social Security or SSI benefits. Provide your new mailing address even if your payment continues going to the same bank or other financial institution.

Q: I receive Social Security disability through my own work due to an accident years ago when I was in my twenties. Since my earnings then had been low, my SSA benefit is not large. Will I be able to receive higher benefits when my parents retire?

A: You might eventually become eligible for child's benefits on a parent's Social Security record if your disability began before age 22. Even though you are now an adult, disability for an adult child is still a child's benefit because it is paid through a parent's Social Security earnings record. A key requirement for child's disability is that the disability began before age 22, even though you are older when actually filing for benefits. To be applicable, potential benefits through a parent's record must be larger than your own benefits. Anyone receiving SSA benefits through two separate records receives up to the highest single benefit amount, not both combined.

Do you have questions about the online Social Secu0rity retirement application? Watch an online video demonstration of the application at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2, in the Retirement Planner portion of the SSA website.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at howard.kossover@ssa.gov. Read his online articles at socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.

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