Social Security

Social Security is a critical piece of the retirement security safety net for seniors, especially for those with limited incomes. I believe Congress has an important responsibility to protect and preserve this critical program. Millions of hard-working families depend on this lifeline to help them through their retirement years. In fact, in 2019 approximately 63 million Americans received these benefits. You can therefore count on me to keep fighting to protect Social Security, as well as other programs that are important to our senior citizens.

Many people believe the money they pay into Social Security throughout their working years is set aside, and then paid back to them upon retirement. This is not actually the case. In reality, the program is a pay-as-you-go system with today’s workers paying to support today’s retirees. But each year, there are more retirees taking money out, and not enough additional workers to support them. It is becoming increasingly apparent this approach is simply unsustainable. 

Without action to protect Social Security, the trust fund is projected to be exhausted in 2034. Once the trust fund reserves are depleted, projections show that tax revenues will only cover a small percentage of scheduled benefits. While Social Security is sound for today’s seniors and for those nearing retirement, Congress must take action to ensure the program remains solvent for generations to come. I have been proud to cosponsor such efforts as the Social Security Fairness Act, which seeks to protect social security benefits that retirees have been expecting their earned benefits. As we deal with this issue in the House of Representatives, know that I am committed to keeping this program strong for future beneficiaries and will oppose any changes that jeopardize the benefits our seniors receive today.

To submit a request for assistance regarding your Social Security benefits, please complete a privacy release form and send it to my District Office in Somerset, Kentucky.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long does it take to process Social Security Disability claims?

An application for Social Security Disability can take from 6 weeks to several years to handle, depending on a variety of factors. 

Click here to find detailed information about this process

Click here to find your local Social Security office

The times below are merely estimates, but represent what people in the 5th District have experienced over the past few years: 

Initial Processing
 - 6 to 8 weeks
 - Some cases are approved in this first step. If your case is denied at this level, you are encouraged to apply for Reconsideration. 

 - 6 to 8 weeks
 - Like the Initial Processing, this is all done through paperwork. If your case is denied here, you are encouraged to request a hearing in front of an Administration Law Judge. 

Hearings and Appeals
 - 9 to 12 months
 - An Administrative Law Judge will hear your claim at this level. It usually takes 9 to 12 months to get a hearing. It can take a few months longer to get a decision. You may want to get an attorney or other qualified individual to help represent you in your hearing. If you are denied at this level, you can appeal your case to the Appeals Council. 

Appeals Council
 - 24 to 36 months
 - If your claim is not approved by the Appeals Council, your only option is to file a lawsuit if you want to continue your claim

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How can I get information about my Social Security retirement benefits?

Your local Social Security office can help you with this issue. 

Click here to find your local Social Security office

You may also contact my District Office in Prestonsburg, Kentucky for assistance.

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Am I eligible for various benefits under Social Security?
To determine eligibility for the programs administered by the Social Security Administration, you may use the SSA Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (B.E.S.T.) by visiting

You may also contact my District Office in Somerset, Kentucky for help. Return to Top
Who is eligible for retirement benefits and how do I apply?

If you have paid social security taxes for at least 10 years, or if you are the surviving spouse of someone who has, you may be eligible for SSA retirement benefits when you reach age 65 (however, beginning in 2003, the age at which you can apply for retirement benefits will increase gradually from 65 to 67). You can also apply as early as age 62, but the benefits you receive will be reduced.

The amount you receive depends on how much you earned when you were working. 

You can also delay applying for Social Security retirement.  If you do so, your extra income may increase your benefit amount, and you will receive a credit.

To apply for benefits or to get more information about the SSA retirement program, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

You may also contact my District Office in Somerset, Kentucky for help.

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Who is eligible for disability benefits and how do I apply?

In order to qualify for disability benefits, you must be unable to perform work of any kind and your disability must be expected to last at least one year or result in death.  You must also have worked long enough (earned certain number of "credits") and recently enough under the Social Security System.  The specific numbers depend on individual situations. 

The SSA receives numerous applications for disability benefits. Because of the large volume of applications, it can take a long period of time to receive a decision.  If your application is denied, you may appeal the decision.  The first appeal, called a Request for Reconsideration, will go to the Office of Disability Determinations in Frankfort, Ky., and may take several months.  If denied again and appealed, the second appeal will go to the Office of Hearings and Appeals, and will take about two years to be decided.

If you are deemed eligible to receive disability, your benefits will begin six full months after the Social Security Administration decides the disability began. In addition, you must wait two years before you qualify for Medicare coverage.

To apply for benefits, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).  You can ask SSA to send you the correct forms, and they can answer questions you may have.  

You may also contact my District Office in Somerset, Kentucky for help.

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Who is eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and how do I apply?

Iupplemental Security Income is an income assistance program administered by the Social Security Administration for individuals who:

        • Are blind or disabled
        • Have assets totaling less than $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple)
        • Are employed and earn less than $830 per month
        • Are unemployed and earn less than $520 per month

To apply for benefits or to ask questions, contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

You may also contact my District Office in Somerset, Kentucky for help.

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