An easy way to determine whether you can get benefits under the Medicare, Social Security Disability, Social Security Retirement, Social Security Survivors, Special Veterans, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs is to access the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool online at http://www.benefits.gov/ssa.
This ten-minute automated test uses your answers to its questions to determine for which of the above government programs you may be eligible. BEST will also give you information regarding how to qualify and how to apply for benefits, including Social Security Disability benefits. However, taking the BEST test is not the same as applying for benefits. If you discover that you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or other benefits, you will have to fill out an electronic application online or fill out a written application and mail it or take it to your local Social Security office.
BEST is an anonymous program. It does not ask for your name, Social Security number or any other identifying information. It does not access your personal Social Security information or records and it cannot give you any idea of the benefits you might receive. It is also not a guarantee that you will, in fact, receive Social Security Disability benefits or any other benefits you may be seeking. In addition, BEST will not screen for help with the Medicare prescription drug plan. However, you have to be eligible for Medicare in order to qualify for this prescription drug plan and BEST does screen for Medicare eligibility.
BEST will ask for general information in order to give you the answers you seek. It will ask for your date of birth, your spouse’s date of birth, your date of marriage, and information about your earnings. It will also ask personal financial questions in order to determine whether you are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (qualification for which is based on the assets you own) or to see whether you qualify for help in paying your Medicare premium. In order to have an accurate assessment of your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits, Medicare benefits, etc., it is important that you answer all the questions posed by BEST honestly and completely. If you give faulty information, the assessment will also be faulty. BEST is intended to tell you all of the programs for which you may qualify. If you tell BEST you are already receiving Social Security Disability benefits, BEST will not screen you for disability benefits a second time. It will, however, tell you what other benefits you may be eligible to receive. If you do not understand a particular question, the BEST program has a help menu to aid you.
You can take BEST for yourself or for another person, answering the questions as if you were the other person. Social Security does not keep a record of the information you provide to the BEST program. All your input is deleted when you exit the program. You can print a copy of each page as you take the test for your records. At the end of the questionnaire, you will see if you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits or any other benefits under the programs for BEST screens.