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The Handbook of Elder Care Resources for the Federal Workplace

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Financial Matters


The information in this section briefly discusses financial considerations that you and your parent or older person may wish to consider. Will and TestamentThe information is in no way intended as financial advice nor as a comprehensive overview of parent or older person financial concerns. Instead, this section is intended to introduce you to or remind you of some common financial topics that concern parent or older persons.

Most of the information concerns Social Security income. To receive additional information on any topics listed below contact the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration can answer many questions about the Social Security system and can send you free informative brochures on its programs. Refer to the resources listed at the end of the Social Security and Health Insurance sections for a partial listing of these publications.

Social Security

Social Security--The General Idea

The basic idea behind Social Security is a simple one. An individual pays taxes to the system during his or her working years, and the
Conceptual Nest Egg
individual and members of his or her family receive monthly benefits when he or she retires or becomes disabled. Or, survivors collect benefits when an individual dies.

Here's An Important Point: Social Security is not intended to be an individual's only source of income. Instead, it is meant to be used to supplement the pensions, insurance, savings, and other investments accumulated during the working years.

There are three types of Social Security benefits:

  • Retirement Benefits provide retirement income to retired workers and their families
  • Survivors Benefits provide income security to family members upon the death of a breadwinner
  • Disability Benefits provide protection against the loss of family income due to the disability of a breadwinner.

What is Supplement Security Income?

SSI is short for Supplemental Security Income. The SSI pays monthly checks to people who are 65 or older, or disabled or blind and who have low incomes and few assets. SSI isn't just for adults. Monthly checks can go to disabled and blind children, too. People who get SSI usually get Food Stamps and Medicaid, too.

The amount of SSI money your parent or older person receives depends on where they live. The basic SSI check is the same nationwide. However, many States add money to the basic check. Call the Social Security Administration's toll free number -- 1-800-772-1213 -- to find out the amounts for your parent's or older person's State.

Signing Up

For disability, survivors, and SSI benefits, your parent or older person should apply as soon as he or she is eligible. When signing up for retirement, Social Security asks that an individual do so about three months before he or she wants the benefits to start.

When Individuals Need Help Handling Their Benefits

Sometimes Social Security or SSI recipients are not able to handle their own financial affairs. In those cases, the Social Security Administration turns to a relative, a friend, or another interested party to handle a person's Social Security matters. This person becomes the "representative payee." All Social Security or SSI benefits due are made payable in the payee's name on behalf of the beneficiary. Contact the Social Security Administration for more information.

For further information about any
Social Security Program, or to apply,
Call SSA's Toll Free Number

Monday - Friday
7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
(Eastern Standard Time)

Booklets Available

The Social Security Administration produces many publications and fact sheets designed to help explain these programs to you or your parent or older person.

To obtain free copies of the following, call or write the Social Security Administration:

Dept. of Health and Human Services
Social Security Administration
Baltimore, MD 21235
Toll Free 1-800-772-1213

  • Retirement - A guide to Social Security retirement benefits
  • Disability - A guide to Social Security disability benefits
  • Survivors - A guide to Social Security survivors benefits
  • Medicare - A guide to the Medicare program
  • Supplemental Security Income - A guide to the SSI program
  • Understanding Social Security - A comprehensive explanation of all the Social Security Programs
  • A Guide For Representative Payees - A guide for representative payees

Additional Financial Resources for Women

To receive a copy of the book, Women and Money: The Independent Woman's Guide to Financial Security for Life, by Frances Leonard, write to the Older Women's League at the address below and include a check or money order for $12.95.

666 11th Street, NW., Suite 700
Washington, DC 20001

Tax Information

The following list of tax publications may be useful in understanding the often complex tax laws that govern an parent or older person's money. You may need to contact a lawyer to receive additional assistance.

Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) toll free at 1-800-829-3676 to order the following free tax guides:

  • Tax Information for Older Americans - Publication No. 554
  • Social Security Benefits and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits - Publication No. 915
  • Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled -Publication No. 524
  • Tax Information for Survivors, Executors, and Administrators - Publication No. 559
  • Pension and Annuity Income - Publication No. 575
  • Child and Dependent Care Expenses -Publication No. 503
  • Tax Rules for Children and Dependents -Publication No. 929
  • Tax Counseling for the Elderly Handbook - Publication No. 1114
  • Guide to Free Tax Services - Publication No. 910

Tax Assistance

phoneContact the IRS toll free at 1-800-829-1040 to  receive assistance in filling out tax forms for older persons. The IRS will refer you to a volunteer tax assistant in your area.

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