Q: I worked for the state and started receiving my Ohio PERS pension last year. My wife pays into Social Security and will file for retirement benefits in June 2008. Will my PERS pension reduce her Social Security? And if I die and she begins receiving a survivor benefit from PERS, will she lose her Social Security? R.T., Massillon
A: No, your PERS will not affect her Social Security, and a PERS survivor pension will not affect her Social Security.
The public offset provision only applies to a person who is receiving a public pension based on ''their own'' work for a noncovered employer. You are the PERS worker, so any survivor's benefit she receives is based on your work and does not fall under the GPO provision.
For more information about offsets, go to our Web site at http://socialsecurity.gov.
Q: I am 58 years old, and I retired in 2000. In January, I was diagnosed with cancer, and my doctor told me to file for Social Security benefits. When I called the toll-free number, I was told I didn't have enough work credit to receive benefits. I couldn't understand the representative's explanation. I told her I paid into Social Security for over 30 years, and she said it didn't count. Can you help me with the disability application? F.H., Canal Fulton
A: Although you have more than enough work to receive Social Security retirement, the disability program has a special work requirement to qualify for benefits.
Generally, a person in your age bracket must have earned 20 work credits (five years) in the last 10 years ending with the year of the disability. That means you need to have 20 credits in the 10-year period immediately before 2008. Because you haven't worked since 2001, you would not be able to meet the disability work requirement.
If you would like more information, go to http://socialsecurity.gov and click on the disability link.
Q: I will be filing for retirement and Medicare this summer. My wife and I will be traveling abroad for most of 2009, and we were told Medicare is no good outside the United States. Is that true? K.J., Bath Township
A: It's true. Medicare does not provide protection against the cost of hospital and medical expenses outside of the United States, except in rare emergencies.
For more information look online at http://www.medicare.gov or call 800-medicare.
Send questions to Joe Paukovich, Social Security Administration, Second Floor, Federal Building, 2 S. Main St., Akron, OH 44308. Fax: 330-375-5616 or e-mail Joseph.Paukovich@ssa.gov.