If you have recently been approved for Social Security benefits, you may have already gotten your award letter in the mail. The Social Security Administration (SSA) sends award letters after approval for all types of benefits, although most people think about Social Security disability benefits when thinking of an award letter. There are many situations where you might need a copy of your award letter, and it is crucial that you know how to get one if the need arises. So, just what is an award letter, and how do you get a copy of yours? Keep reading as we give you all the details!
What Is A Social Security Award Letter?
A Social Security award letter is a notice from the Social Security Administration informing you that you have been approved for benefits. You will receive this type of letter after approval for retirement benefits, disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, Medicare benefits, or other benefits administered by the SSA. The award letter is just one of the pieces in the overall process of how Social Security works. While the award letter is technically the first notification of your approval, there are many times when you will need a copy of this letter.
When you get a copy of your award letter at a later date, you might hear this letter called many things. These letters are commonly referred to as a benefit verification letter, proof of income letter, budget letter, proof of award letter, and proof of benefits letter. All of these terms are used to refer to the same communication, and these letters provide proof from the Social Security Administration that you are receiving benefits. These letters can also prove that you do not receive benefits from Social Security. We will discuss the reasons why you might need a copy of this letter later in this article. For now, let’s look at the different ways you can get a copy of your award letter.
How To Get A Copy Of Your Social Security Award Letter
Do you know how to obtain one when the need for a copy of your award letter arises? There are a few different ways you can get a copy of your letter. Here is how to do it.
The easiest and quickest way to get a copy of your Social Security award letter is through a My Social Security account at www.ssa.gov. If you already have an account, simply login to your account and click “Replacement Documents.” From there, you can select “Get a benefit verification letter.” This link will take you directly to your award letter, and you can view, save, or print your letter from there.
For those without a My Social Security Account, the process of creating one is easy. In most cases, it takes less than ten minutes to sign up, and this online account offers many other great benefits as well. You will need your Social Security number and a few other pieces of information to confirm your identity. Besides getting a copy of your award letter, you can also use your account to request a replacement Social Security card, view your Social Security statement, and complete many other common requests.
If you are unable to complete your request online, you can visit your local Social Security office to request a copy of your award letter. The representative at your local SSA office will need your name, SSN, and a document proving your identity before giving you a copy of the award letter. While Social Security offices are once again accepting walk-ins, it is always best to call and make an appointment beforehand. Usage of their online services is preferred, but you can get a copy of your award letter in person at your local office.
— Over The Phone
The final option for obtaining a copy of your award letter is over the phone. You can call the Social Security Administration toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM. After verifying your identity, the representative can have a copy of your award letter mailed to your home address. This method will usually take the longest, so you should consider one of the other options if you need the letter right away.
Why You Need An Award Letter
You might be wondering why you would ever need a copy of your award. After all, you should know how much your benefit payments are each month, right? There are several reasons why you might need a copy of your award letter, and here are a few. One of the most common reasons you need a copy of your award letter is for proof of income when applying for a loan or mortgage. Social Security beneficiaries frequently need a copy of their letter to prove their benefit amount to a bank or other lending institution. Just like a bank might request copies of a paystub from working individuals, those who are retired will usually need to present a copy of their award letter.
Next, you might need your Medicare award letter to serve as proof of your medical insurance coverage. Your doctor or health care provider might need to see this letter before performing certain services to make sure they are covered under insurance. Lastly, those who are receiving SSI benefits might need a copy of their award letter to prove their eligibility for other assistance programs. Remember that SSI beneficiaries automatically qualify for many other programs, like housing assistance, food stamps, and others. Their SSI award letter is enough documentation to qualify them for these other programs.
Information Found In Your Social Security Award Letter
Your Social Security award letter contains very specific information. Here are the highlights of the information contained in the letter.
— Identifying Information
First, your award letter contains identifying information that ties your award letter to you. Items like your name, address, and date of birth will be included in the letter. This information must be included so that your award letter is personalized with your information. A generic letter without your identifying information would not serve much of a purpose.
— Payment Amounts
Many people wonder, “How do I find out my Social Security benefit amount?” The answer is to look at your award letter. Your award letter will contain your monthly payment amounts. This amount will show how much Social Security pays you via direct deposit each month. This piece of information is one of the most important pieces when you are using your letter as proof of income. You might need a certain income to get approved for a loan, and your award letter will show the bank exactly how much you get each month.
— Monthly Deductions
In addition to your monthly payment amounts, your award letter will also show any deductions that are withheld from your Social Security payments. While taxes are not usually withheld from your payments (unless you complete a voluntary withholding form), other items might be withheld. The most common item withheld from your Social Security check is your Medicare premium. Your award letter will show the amount of your premium that is withheld from your payment each month.
— Back Pay Calculation
In many cases, it could be several months from the time you apply for disability until you get approved for benefits. During this time, you could accrue back pay that is due. Your award letter will show you the amount of back pay that you are due, and you will receive this payment as a lump sum most of the time. Be aware that you could owe taxes on this payment, although the IRS does allow you to spread out your back pay across prior year tax returns to help on your tax bill.
— Type Of Benefits
Your award letter should plainly state which type of benefits you are receiving from the Social Security Administration. You could be receiving retirement benefits, disability benefits, SSI benefits, survivor benefits, Medicare benefits, or others. Depending on your situation, you might need to provide this information to another agency.
— Monthly Payment Dates
Not only does your award letter show you the amount that you will receive each month, but it will also show you when you will receive your payments. Depending on the type of benefit you receive, the payment dates could be a little different. If you need to know when your check will arrive each month, then you should refer to your award letter. It will contain this information.
The Bottom Line
Social Security award letters are typically no more than a page or two, but they contain some very important information. These letters contain your name, date of birth, the amount of your benefits, the type of benefits you receive, and the payment dates for your benefits. You will likely need a copy of this letter when applying for a loan or in other situations where you need to prove your benefit status. The easiest way to get a copy of your award letter is by requesting one online through your My Social Security account.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I print a copy of my SSI award letter online?
Yes, you can print a copy of your award letter online. Accessing your award letter through the MyAccount section at SSA.gov is the quickest and easiest way to get a copy of your award letter. From your account, you can view, print, and save a copy of your award letter. If you are unable to get your letter online, you can also visit your local Social Security office or call the Social Security Administration.
How long does it take to get an award letter from Social Security?
The length of time it takes to get an award letter often depends on the type of benefit for which you are applying. For retirement benefits, you can expect to receive your award letter within two to three months. However, for disability benefits, it can sometimes take a year or more to get your award letter. Many disability applications are initially denied, so you must appeal the denial. The appeals process is lengthy, so it could be more than a year before you finally get approved for benefits and receive your award letter. If you notice a copy of your letter in your online account, that is definitely one of the signs you will be approved for disability.
How do you know if you have an award letter?
If you are receiving any type of Social Security benefits, then you have an award letter. For those who are not yet receiving benefits but have already applied, you can track the status of your application through your online Social Security account. As soon as you have been approved for benefits, you should have an award letter available and can get a copy of it.
What does a Social Security award letter look like?
A Social Security award letter looks very similar to any other formal letter you might see. It should contain your name and address in the upper left corner, and the Social Security logo should be clearly displayed on the letter. The letter is typically about a page in length, and it will contain several key pieces of information about your benefits. You can log into your Social Security account online to view a copy of your award letter.