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SOCIAL SECURITY Q AND A: When do I have to give out my Social Security number?

Q. Do I have to give my Social Security number out whenever I'm asked? A. No. Providing your SSN is voluntary and up to you. Treat your Social Security number as confidential information. Avoid giving it out unnecessarily. Do not routinely carry ...

Q. Do I have to give my Social Security number out whenever I'm asked?

A. No. Providing your SSN is voluntary and up to you. Treat your Social Security number as confidential information. Avoid giving it out unnecessarily. Do not routinely carry it with you. When asked for it, consider asking why your number is needed, how it will be used, any legal requirement to provide it and what the consequences are if you refuse. Then make your decision.Keep in mind that requesters may not provide you their services if you refuse to provide the number.

Q.Recently you wrote about SSA child benefits. How much money could an eligible child receive when a parent retires?

A. Amounts vary widely but are based on the full, unreduced for age, retirement amount of the parent. Depending on your age when starting SSA retirement benefits, your full retirement age(FRA) amount could be different than the monthly amount you receive.Potentially a child could receive up to one-half of the parent's full retirement or disability benefit, or up to 75 percent of the deceased parent's basic Social Security benefit. Paying SSA child benefits does not lower the amount paid to the parent but there is a limit to the total amount payable to a family, again based on the parent's full retirement age (FRA) amount. If the total payable to all family members exceeds this limit, each child's benefit is reduced proportionately but all eligible children,whether living with you or not, receive the same amount. To estimate a child's benefit, look at the second page of your most recent Social Security Statement,usually received about two months before your birthday if you are 25 or older, pay Social Security taxes and are not yet receiving monthly benefits. Under the retirement information see the estimate shown for your full retirement age. At your retirement, the maximum payable to one child on your record will be one-half of this amount. Information about child benefits and the Social Security Statement is available at www.socialsecurity.gov .

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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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