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SOCIAL SECURITY Q AND A: Social Security disability requires no minimum age

Q. Is there a minimum age for Social Security disability? My nephew, age 19, was in a serious accident, and I wonder if he might be eligible. A. There is no minimum age, but he must meet both the work requirements and the strict Social Security d...

Q. Is there a minimum age for Social Security disability? My nephew, age 19, was in a serious accident, and I wonder if he might be eligible.

A. There is no minimum age, but he must meet both the work requirements and the strict Social Security definition of disability. The amount of work, measured in credits or calendar quarters, needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. See www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/links_disability.htm .

Someone younger than 24 such as your nephew could need as little as six credits of coverage earned in the three-year period ending when his disability started, while people disabled at age 31 or older generally need 20 to 40 credits (five out of the past 10 years), and some of the work must have been recent. A maximum of four work credits can be earned each year. The amount of earnings required for each credit increases each year as general wage levels go up, and for 2010, it is $1,120 gross wages or net income from self-employment. Even if your nephew does not meet SSA work requirements, there is the possibility of Supplemental Security Income disability based on financial need.

Your nephew, or anyone considering filing for disability, should do so rather than trying to figure out if they have enough work. SSA representatives make that decision as part of the application process. An online SSA disability application and information about both programs is available in the disability section of www.socialsecurity.gov , by calling the national SSA toll-free number, (800) 772-1213 or by contacting any SSA office.

Q. As a military retiree, I have TRICARE insurance. Do I need Medicare Part B (Medical Coverage)?

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A. Contact the Department of Defense to find out how Medicare works with your TRICARE benefits. You may need to be enrolled in Medicare Part B (Medical) to keep your TRICARE coverage. For general information the TRICARE Web site, www.tricare.mil , notes that with very few exceptions, "under Federal law, if you're a TRICARE beneficiary eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A because of a disability or end-stage renal disease or are eligible based on turning age 65, you must have Medicare Part B coverage to remain TRICARE-eligible."

Questions about how any insurance provider interacts with Medicare should be referred to that provider for information, as SSA employees will not know. Medicare coverage information is at www.medicare.gov .

General information questions can be sent to Howard I. Kossover, SSA, 402 DeMers Ave., Suite 300, Grand Forks ND 58201; phone (701) 772-5518 ext. 200; fax: (701) 772-8622; e-mail: howard.kossover@ssa.gov . Please include the name of the paper in which you read the article. General information also is available on the agency Web site, www.socialsecurity.gov , or by calling the national toll-free number, (800) 772-1213.

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