10 Handy Ways to Use Social Security Online

There are many easy ways to use our website. Here are some common and not-so common uses:

Apply for Social Security benefits online, of course! This is the fastest, most convenient way to apply for retirement, spouses, disability, or Medicare benefits, without visiting a local office or calling to speak to a representative.

Want access to our latest news, retirement planning tips, and sound guidance? You’ve come to the right place – our blog, Social Security Matters. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, where you can watch our popular videos.

Verify your annual earnings and review estimates of your future Social Security benefits when you access your Social Security Statement, one of the many services available with a my Social Security account.

Numbers can tell a story. Our online calculators such as the Retirement Estimator, the Life Expectancy Calculator, and the Early or Late Retirement Calculator, can be found on our calculators page.

Lost or missing Social Security card? Find out how to get a new, replacement, or corrected card. In fact, you may be able to apply for a replacement card with a my Social Security account, if you meet certain qualifications.

Noah, Emma, Liam, Olivia…are these the most popular baby names for 2016 in the U.S. or in your state? Discover the trends in baby names, or take our online quiz to help you pick the ideal name.

Do you have to pay taxes on Social Security benefits? How do I apply for Social Security retirement benefits? What is your full retirement age? Discover the answers to your Social Security related questions at our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Dream of moving to London, Paris, or the Cayman Islands? Learn how Social Security makes international payments and how you can do business with us from around the world.

Are you a veteran? Are you at mid-career? Or maybe you’re new to the workforce. Find out how we fulfill your needs throughout life’s journey on our People Like Me page.

If you like to read and prefer to know all the details, our publications webpage is a library of helpful information.

Simple, easy to use, beneficial, and always here to help you secure today and tomorrow, visit us today.

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Five Ways Social Security Serves Our Veterans

On Veterans Day, we honor the men and women who proudly serve our country. Social Security is committed to helping our veterans. One of our priorities is to constantly improve the quality of service we provide to them and their families.

Here are five Social Security benefits every veteran should know about:

  1. Disability Services —The effects of military service can be profound and lasting. Social Security pays disability benefits to veterans through the Social Security disability insurance and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Our disability insurance program pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you’ve worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes to qualify.
  2. Accelerated processing for some Veteran claims —Veterans who have a VA compensation rating of 100 percent permanent and total (P&T) have the opportunity to receive expedited processing of applications for Social Security disability benefits.
  3. Help integrating back into the workforce — Our online guide, Journey to Success: Employment Tools for Veterans with Disabilities, highlights resources, such as career counseling, job training, employment services, and other ways that we help disabled veterans return to work.
  4. Career opportunities for Veterans — We offer several career options in diverse fields for our heroes as well as preference in hiring. You can learn more about how Social Security helps secure today and tomorrow for our veterans and their families on our veterans page.
  5. Benefits for WWII Veterans — Special benefits can be paid to some World War II veterans who served in the active United States military from September 16, 1940, through July 24, 1947. This includes Filipino veterans who served in the organized military of the Philippines from July 26, 1941, through December 30, 1946.

Acting Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill said it best: “We honor and thank the brave men and women who served in our nation’s armed forces.” Let us always remember their courage and sacrifice.

Improve Your Retirement with a my Social Security Account

September was National Self-Improvement Month, but it’s always a good time to focus on your health and wellness. While you do that, make sure your retirement is healthy, too, by opening a secure, personal, my Social Security account.

Registering only takes a few minutes at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. You’ll be asked some basic questions to verify your identity. Then you’ll choose a user name and password. Pretty soon you’ll be registered and have full access to many of our services.

At Social Security, our highest priority is protecting the privacy and security of the personal information we maintain on you and almost every American so you can rest assured that doing business online with us is both safe and secure.

Once you establish an account, you’ll have access to a wealth of information that will improve your chances of a successful retirement. You’ll be able to verify your earnings history, get an estimate of your future benefit amount at retirement, and get an estimate of your benefits should you become disabled.

With your my Social Security account you can view and print your Statement whenever you like.

You can also improve your experience of receiving retirement benefits by establishing a my Social Security account to manage your benefits. You can set up your Direct Deposit within minutes by going to my Social Security and signing up for an account. Then, go to the My Profile tab and follow the instructions on the screen. Once you establish a mySocial Security account, you’ll be able to change your address or update your direct deposit, print a benefit verification letter, get a replacement Medicare card and a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S statement.

Once you’ve established your my Social Security account, you’ll want to check out our redesigned website. We’ve done some self-improvement of our own based on your suggestions, and we’ve made all of our services available from the home page. We’ve also made our website easier to navigate and more accessible on mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones.

Why not join the nearly 36 million who have improved their chances at a good retirement by establishing an account on my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

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Learning the Lingo of Social Security

Is Social Security a topic in your conversations these days? Are you familiar with the lingo used to describe Social Security benefits, or does it sound like a new vocabulary to you?

Social Security employees strive to explain benefits using easy-to-understand, plain language. But if a technical term or acronym (an abbreviation of the first letters of words in a phrase) that you don’t know slips into the conversation or appears in written material, you can easily find the meaning in our online glossary at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/glossary

Social Security acronyms function as verbal shorthand in our financial planning conversations. If you’re nearing retirement, you may want to know what PIA (primary insurance amount), FRA (full retirement age), and DRCs (delayed retirement credits) mean. These terms involve your benefit amount based on when you decide to take it.

If you take your retirement benefit at FRA, you’ll receive the full PIA (amount payable for a retired worker who starts benefits at full retirement age). So, FRA is an age and PIA is an amount.

What about DRCs? Delayed retirement credits are the incremental increases added to the PIA if you delay taking retirement benefits beyond your full retirement age. If you wait to begin benefits beyond FRA — say, at age 68 or even 70 — your benefit increases.

Once you receive benefits, you get a COLA most years. But don’t expect a refreshing drink — a COLA is a Cost of Living Adjustment, and that usually means a little extra money in your monthly payment.

Knowing some of these terms can help you fine-tune your conversations about Social Security.  If one of those unknown terms or acronyms does come up in conversation, you can be the one to supply the definition using our online glossary. Sometimes learning the lingo can deepen your understanding of how Social Security works for you. Discover more at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Easy ways for millennials to prepare for retirement

Millennials are in the best position for planning, investing, and saving for your retirement; growing that nest egg as large as it can be. The sooner you start, the more money you will have.

There are two easy ways to prepare for retirement at a young age and both involve Social Security- you know, that thing that Baby Boomers say won’t be there when you retire!

Start a my Social Security account. Having a personal and secure account is easy, but better yet, it empowers you. You can access the services you need in the convenience of your own home without traveling to a local office and waiting in a long line. To view your social security statement, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

As you can see, many of our resources are available online and my Social Security is one of the best places to access vital information about your retirement. We are constantly adding new features to make your experience with us faster and more convenient. You can even replace a lost or stolen Social Security card in certain states.

Did you know that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age? Social Security will be there for you if you become disabled and cannot work. Accessing your online account can also help you determine your estimated future disability benefits, so why wait. Get started!

Knowing where you stand with Social Security

Have you ever wondered where you stand with Social Security? Recently Beth Kobliner, who is a personal finance journalist for the New York Times wrote an article to help us decipher this. Her article appeared in the March 23, 2017 NYT.

The article appears in its entirety here but you should check it out on the Social Security blog if you want more information.

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For most people, Social Security is a mystery. We see that 6.2 percent deduction on our pay stubs and wonder: What does it mean for my financial future? The answers: A lot. And not enough.

After tax season, take a few minutes to go online and read your Social Security statement. Even if your retirement is 30 or 40 years away, you need to know where you stand now. The Government Accountability Office tells us that nearly a third of households with members ages 55 and up have no retirement savings plan or pension in place—zip. That means Social Security is the only post-retirement pay they’ll get – and the estimated average monthly benefit for retirees (as of 2017) is just $1,360. (See what I mean by “not enough”?)

And women (lucky us!) have special reasons to worry. In a survey released in December 2016, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies reported that men claimed to have more than three times the retirement savings women have. Yes, it appears that the dreaded Pay Gap has a retired older cousin called the Retirement Gap. (Oh, and because women live longer than men, on average, you’ll probably need to save for two or three more years of retirement.)

To check up on your Social Security, log on to https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/, and follow the instructions to view your Social Security Statement. It will show you how much you’re currently eligible for, depending on when you start receiving Social Security benefits. Your monthly benefit amount increases the longer you delay your retirement, up to age 70. People get a smaller monthly benefit if they take early retirement, at age 62, than they would get at full retirement age (67 for anyone born in 1960 or later). Keep working until you turn 70, and you’ll get quite a bit more each month in retirement. Your online Statement breaks it all down.

You can also find out the monthly amount you’re eligible for if you become disabled and can’t work – and whether your family qualifies for survivor benefits in the event of your death.

Confronting your Social Security status annually will give you a much-needed reality check. Could you survive on what the government will send to you each month? (The short answer: Don’t count on it.) How much – and how quickly – do you need to start saving in a 401(k) or IRA? (Hint: the maximum – now.)

So now you know. Social Security needs to be part of your annual financial checkup. Because inspecting the old safety net might inspire you to start saving now so you will have enough to fall back on in retirement.

 

Women need to understand their Social Security benefit…but that’s not all!

The Social Security Administration added the following post on March 13, 2017.  As we approach the tax deadline for 2017, I think it bears repeating. For the full blog post, see this link.

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One of the biggest mistakes people make is simply not taking the time or waiting too long to understand how the retirement system works. If you’re worried that you won’t have enough money to last throughout a longer lifetime, take action by doing something about it. According to a 2016 survey, only 40 percent of workers have gotten an estimate of their Social Security benefit amount and only 17 percent have a written financial plan.

While all Americans need to plan for their financial futures, it is especially important for women. Women face unique financial challenges like longer life spans, the fact that we traditionally earn less than men, and differing employment patterns from men. Women are more likely to work part-time and spend time out of the paid workforce to care for loved ones. These all usually lower women’s Social Security benefits and overall savings.

Women need to know the amount of their future benefits, and make sure they know the best time to retire. Married women need to know how widowhood and divorce affect their benefits. An easy way to do this is to sign up for a my Social Security account, and use your Social Security Statement as a planning tool.

Social Security provides the foundation, but you need to have other sources of income such as a work-based retirement savings plan. What about personal IRAs or other savings/investment accounts? If you are married, don’t forget to find out what retirement accounts your spouse has as well. The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) has a worksheet Get Your Ducks in a Row to help you get started.

Do you know all the benefits you may be eligible for through your employer? A typical benefits package is often worth up to 25 percent of an employee’s income, and can include health, retirement, disability, life, long-term care, and flexible spending accounts. Read WISER’s brochure, 20 Ways to Take Advantage of Your Company Benefits Plan to learn more.

Finally, with tax season underway, now is the perfect time to get started. Grab those W2 forms to see how much money you are actually living off of each year, and then figure out how you, with Social Security benefits and other resources, can maintain financial security throughout your life’s journey. For additional resources, visit www.wiserwomen.org and Social Security’s People Like Me – Women’s page.