Why Do I Need Social Security Award Letter to Prove Monthly Income?

Before submitting a Medicaid Application, it is important to know what information the Medicaid application will require. One such item is verification of gross monthly income, directly from the source (from all sources). For most of my Medicaid planning clients applying for ICP, Medicaid Waiver, or Medicaid Long Term Care benefits, this may include social security income, pension income, 401k / IRA, annuity income, rental income - but any source of income is counted. This article is focused on how to prove social security benefits only, as it is a major source of income for most older adults.

Social security retirement income is always relevant and important to disclose to DCF to determine eligibility. It also helps your elder care attorney determine whether a Miller Trust will be needed.

DCF will NOT just accept bank statements (showing what SSA direct deposits into your bank account). Rather, they want to see proof of income directly from the source. This will require obtaining a copy of your social security benefits award letter (sometimes called an SSA "benefit verification letter" or social security "proof of income letter")).

How to Obtain a Social Security Income Benefit Verification Letter?

There are several ways to obtain social security administration benefits verification. The first way is by US Mail. The Social Security Administration mails their benefits award letter at the end of each calendar year to inform their SSA income recipient what they can expect for the following year. If you have a copy of your social security proof of income letter, please bring it with you to your elder care attorney appointment.

If you cannot locate your benefit verification letter, then the easiest way to obtain one is to create and logon to your "my Social Security" online account.

How to open a My Social Security account:

  1. Go to https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/ and click on “Sign In or Create an Account.”
  2. Go to “Create an Account” and fill in the requested information.
  3. Create a username and password. This is your My Social Security account login.
  4. You’ll need to list a second identifier, either a cellphone number or an email address. Whenever you log in to your account, Social Security will text or email you a one-time code to use to complete verification. Social Security implemented this two-step process in 2017 to guard against unauthorized use and identity theft.

Why Use My Social Security to Verify Income from the SSA?

The My Social Security online portal does more than just allow you to verify your total gross income and disability benefits from the social security administration. You can also use it to establish the bank where the Social Security Administration will deposit your social security retirement benefits (in some cases it may be easier to just have the social security income directly deposited into a Miller Trust / Income Trust account.

In addition to request a benefit verification letter to use as proof of income (for applying for Medicaid benefits such as the long-term care waiver or institutional care program); it may also be required if you want to apply for a mortgage.

You can also use the My Social Security account to:

  • request a replacement Medicare Card
  • request a replacement Social Security Card;
  • change your address on file with the social security administration.

Other ways to get a benefit verification letter

If you don't have access to the internet or are uncomfortable with computers, you can also call Social Security at 800-772-1213 (TTY: 800-325-0778) or find a local Social Security office and visit in person.

Remember, when calling or visiting a Social Security Administration office, the income benefit verification letter goes by several names. You might also hear it called a “budget letter,” “benefits letter,” “proof of income letter” or “proof of award letter.” A benefit verification letter is distinct from an award letter, the notice Social Security sends you when it has processed your application and “awarded” benefits. You have to contact Social Security by phone or in person to get a copy of an original award letter.

Other Related Medicaid Lawyer Resources Regarding Social Security Retirement Income

AARP Article on How to Get Social Security Benefits Verification Letter

How can I get a benefit verification letter?

Social Security Administration Pamphlet on the My Social Security Online System

How Much Income Goes into a Qualified Income Trust?