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This list updated from WRIC, WWBT and WTVR Wednesday at 21:45

IG Warns Public About Fraudulent Phone Calls Threatening Arrest or Legal Action

Posted on  by Andrew Cannarsa, OIG Communications Director

The Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is urging citizens to remain vigilant of telephone impersonation schemes that exploit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) reputation and authority.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) continues to receive reports from across the country about fraudulent phone calls from people claiming to be from SSA.  Recent reports have indicated that unknown callers are using increasingly threatening language in these calls.  The callers state, due to improper or illegal activity with a citizen’s Social Security number (SSN) or account, a citizen will be arrested or face other legal action if they fail to call a provided phone number to address the issue.  This is a scam; citizens should not engage with these calls or provide any personal information.

SSA employees do contact citizens, generally those who have ongoing business with SSA, by telephone for customer-service purposes.  However, SSA employees will neverthreaten you for information; they will not state that you face potential arrest or other legal action if you fail to provide information.  In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up.

“Unfortunately, scammers will try anything to mislead and harm innocent people, including scaring them into thinking that something is wrong with their Social Security account and they might be arrested,” Stone said.  “I encourage everyone to remain watchful of these schemes and to alert family members and friends of their prevalence.  We will continue to track these scams and warn citizens, so that they can stay several steps ahead of these thieves.”

The OIG recently warned that some of these impersonation calls have “spoofed” SSA’s national customer service phone number, displaying 1-800-772-1213 as the incoming number on caller ID.

The Acting Inspector General urges citizens to be extremely cautious, and to avoid providing information such as your SSN or bank account numbers to unknown persons over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it.  If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from SSA, you should report that information to the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

For more information, please visit https://oig.ssa.gov/newsroom/scam-awareness.

Seasonal work can empower you

By Jacqueline Weisgarber

Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Soon after school begins in the fall, many businesses begin advertising for seasonal workers.  It’s a good way for people to make some extra income during the busy holiday season or ease back into working.

The diversity of jobs appeals to many people. Each year, companies also hire for seasonal work-from-home positions. These jobs include: customer service, sales, tech support, call center representatives, healthcare support, order taking/review, and more. Seasonal positions may help bridge employment gaps on your resume. They show proven experience and that you are ready, willing, and able to succeed. They also can help you to develop new or strengthen existing skills through training.

If you receive Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), special rules make it possible for people to work and still receive monthly payments. If you want to try working again, seasonal work may help you ease back into the work force. ReadWorking While Disabled at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10095.pdf or visit our Ticket to Work website at https://choosework.ssa.gov for more information.

Keep in mind that you must report all earnings, including your seasonal earnings, to Social Security; however, they also count toward your future benefits. You earn Social Security credits when you work in a job and pay Social Security taxes. We use your total yearly earnings to figure your Social Security credits. You can learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10072.pdf.

You can also get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. But if you’re younger than full retirement age and earn more than certain amounts, your benefits will be reduced, although not dollar for dollar. Your benefits may increase when you reach full retirement age. You can read more about working while retired at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html.

Getting back to work can empower you in a number of ways. Social Security is here for you throughout your life’s journey — at each step of your working life and beyond.

Why social security retirement is important to women

 

 

 

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Social Security plays an especially important role in providing economic security for women. In the 21st century, more women work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. But, women face greater economic challenges in retirement. Women:

  • tend to live longer than men. A woman who is 65 years old today can expect to live, on average, until about 87, while a 65-year-old man can expect to live, on average, until about 84;

  • often have lower lifetime earnings than men; and
  • may reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets than men.

 

 

Social Security offers a basic level of protection to all women. When you work, you pay taxes into the Social Security system, providing for your own benefits. In addition, your spouse’s earnings can give you Social Security coverage as well. Women who don’t work are often covered through their spouses’ work. When their spouses retire, become disabled, or die, women can receive benefits.

 

 

If you’re a worker age 18 or older, you can get a Social Security Statement online. Your Statement is a valuable tool to help you plan a secure financial future, and we recommend that you look at it each year. Your Statement provides a record of your earnings. To create an account online and review your Statement, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

 

 

If your spouse dies, you can get widow’s benefits if you’re age 60 or older. If you have a disability, you can get widow’s benefits as early as age 50. Your benefit amount will depend on your age and on the amount your deceased spouse was entitled to at the time of death. If your spouse was receiving reduced benefits, your survivor benefit will be based on that amount.

 

 

You may be eligible for widow’s benefits and Medicare before age 65 if you have a disability and are entitled to benefits. You also may be eligible for benefits if you are caring for a child who is younger than 16.

 

 

Our “People Like Me” website for women has valuable resources for people of all ages. You can access it at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/women.

 

 

To read more about how we can help you, read and share the publication What Every Woman Should Know at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10127.pdf.

Need to change your name on your social security card?

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Are you changing your name? If so, let Social Security know so we can update your information, send you a corrected card, and make sure you get the benefits you’ve earned. 

To change your name on your card, you must show us documents proving your legal name change and identity. If you are a U.S. citizen, you also must show us a document proving your U.S. citizenship, if it is not already in our records. You must present original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We can’t accept photocopies or notarized copies.

To prove your legal name change, you must show one of the following documents:

  • Marriage document;
  • Divorce decree;
  • Certificate of naturalization showing a new name; or
  • Court order for a name change.

To prove your identity, you must show an unexpired document showing your name, identifying information, and photograph, such as one of the following:

  • U.S. driver’s license;
  • State-issued non-driver’s identification card; or
  • U.S. passport.

If you don’t have one of those documents available, we may be able to accept your:

  • Employer identification card;
  • School identification card;
  • Health insurance card; or
  • U.S. military identification card.

To prove your U.S. citizenship, you must show one of the following documents:

  • U.S. birth certificate;
  • U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad;
  • U.S. passport (unexpired);
  • Certificate of Naturalization; or
  • Certificate of Citizenship.

Whatever your reason for your name change, Social Security is here to help you with the new… you! Fill out the form at www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf and follow the instructions to ensure your Social Security card is delivered in a timely manner. You can also locate your local field office at www.socialsecurity.gov/locator so you can apply for your updated card and show your required documents in person.

For complete instructions, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber, which includes information for non-citizens. And remember, if you simply need to replace a lost Social Security card, but don’t need to change your name, you can — in most states — request your replacement card online using your my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Achieving Self-Support with Social Security

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Work means different things to different people, but it can give you a sense of self, a community to rely on, and much-needed structure. Some people define themselves through their careers, while others enjoy the social aspect of their jobs. If you rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments and want to start working or return to work, we can help.

A plan for achieving self-support (PASS) is a plan for your future. This plan lets you use your income or resources you own to help you reach your work goals. You could set aside money to go to school and get specialized training for a job or to start a business. The job that you want should allow you to earn enough to reduce or eliminate your need for payments provided under the SSI program.

You can have a plan if:

  • You want to work;
  • You get SSI (or can qualify for SSI by having this plan) because you have a disability or are blind; and
  • You have other income and/or resources to use to get a job or start a business.

A PASS can even help you receive or keep SSI or could mean a higher payment. Under SSI rules, any income that you have may reduce your SSI payment. But, if you have an approved plan, you can use that income to pay for the items you need to reach your work goal.

We don’t count money set aside under this plan when we decide your SSI payment amount. This means you may get a higher SSI payment. However, you can’t get more than the maximum SSI payment for the state where you live. A PASS can also help you set aside money for most work expenses. With an approved plan, you can set aside money to pay expenses to reach your work goal. You can read all about what work expenses are covered and more at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-11017.pdf.

The plan must be in writing, and Social Security must approve it. To start, contact your local Social Security office for an application (Form SSA-545-BK). You can access this form at www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ssa-545.html.

Your job isn’t just a source of income — it can be a vehicle to independence or a beginning to fulfilling your dreams. Let Social Security’s Plan for Achieving Self-Support help you achieve your goals.

Workers'Compensation and CERTAIN Disability Payments May Affect Your Social Security Benefits

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Many people working nowadays have more than one job, so it’s not uncommon for them to have several sources of income. Owning multiple small businesses, seasonal jobs, and the gig economy add to the mix — and complexity — of our modern day economy. It’s important to keep in mind that having multiple sources of income can sometimes affect your Social Security benefits.

Disability payments from private sources, such as private pensions or insurance benefits, don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits. Workers’ compensation and other public disability benefits, however, may reduce your Social Security benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid to a worker because of a job-related injury or illness. These benefits may be paid by federal or state workers’ compensation agencies, employers, or by insurance companies on behalf of employers.

Public disability payments that may affect your Social Security benefits are those paid from a federal, state, or local government for disabling medical conditions that are not job-related. Examples of these are civil service disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability.

Some public benefits don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits. If you receive Social Security disability benefits, and one of the following types of public benefits, your Social Security benefits will not be reduced:

  • Veterans Administration benefits;
  • State and local government benefits, if Social Security taxes were deducted from your earnings; or
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

You can read more about the possible ways your benefits might be reduced at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10018.pdf.

Please be sure to report changes. If there is a change in the amount of your other disability payment, or if those benefits stop, let us know. Tell us if the amount of your workers’ compensation or public disability payment increases or decreases. Any change in the amount or frequency of these benefits is likely to affect the amount of your Social Security benefits.

An unexpected change in benefits can have unintended consequences, but not if you’re informed and have financially prepared yourself. Visit our benefits planner webpage at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners for information about your options for securing your future.

How Social Security Defines Disability

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Disability affects millions of Americans, in one form or another. Social Security is here to help you and your family, but there are strict criteria for meeting the definition of disability. The definition of disability under Social Security is also different than it is for other programs. We do not pay benefits for partial or short-term disability.

We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if:

  • You can’t do work that you did before;
  • We decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

This is a strict definition of disability.

Social Security is also required by law to review the current medical condition of all people receiving disability benefits to make sure they continue to have a qualifying disability. Generally, if someone’s health hasn’t improved, or if their disability still keeps them from working, they will continue to receive benefits.

To help us make our decision, we’ll first gather new information about a benefit recipient’s medical condition. We’ll ask their doctors, hospitals, and other medical sources for their medical records. We’ll ask them how their medical condition limits their activities, what their medical tests show, and what medical treatments they have been given. If we need more information, we’ll ask them to go for an examination or test for which we’ll pay.

Social Security is a support system for people who cannot work because of a disability. You can learn more about Social Security disability at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityand also by accessing our starter kits and checklists at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/disability.

BEAT Procrastination by Changing your Direct Deposit Early

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

September 6 is National Fight Procrastination Day. With our busy lives, it is easy to fall into that cycle of constantly postponing some tasks because of other things we need to address right now. This may be true for you when it comes to changing your payment method for Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, procrastinating on reporting changes can lead to delayed payments, resulting in undue hardship with bills and living expenses. Ultimately, it’s less hassle — and less stressful — if you report a direct deposit change as soon as it occurs. 

How can you change your direct deposit information with Social Security? The most convenient way is by creating a my Social Securityaccount online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Once you create your account, you can update your bank information without leaving the comfort of your home. Another way to change your direct deposit is by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to make the change over the phone. If you prefer to speak to someone in-person, you can visit your local Social Security office with the necessary information.

What exactly will Social Security need to make the direct deposit change? Because we are committed to protecting your personal information, we need some form of identification to verify who you are. If you are online, we verified your identity when you initially created your my Social Securityaccount. All you need to do is log in at www.socialsecurity.gov/signin with your secure username and password to gain instant access to your information.

If you call Social Security, we will ask identifying questions to ensure we are speaking to the right person. If you visit the office, you will need to bring a driver’s license or some form of ID with you. Once we have identified you are the correct person and are authorized to make changes on the Social Security record, all we need is the routing number, account number, and type of account established. We don’t ask for a voided check, nor do we obtain verification from the bank. Therefore, you should be sure you are providing accurate information to us.

The day of the month you report the direct deposit change makes all the difference. Though the exact date varies each month, generally, you will need to report changes by the 15th to see the effect on the next check. When the 15th falls on the weekend or a holiday, the cutoff is usually the previous business day. For example, if you switched banks or have a new account in September, you will need to provide the new information to Social Security by September 14 to receive your next payment in the new account. If you don’t report this change to us until September 28, your next payment will go into the old account.

Because you may be unsure if your direct deposit change will affect your next payment, we highly recommend that you do not close the old bank account until you have seen your first Social Security deposit in the new bank account. That way, you can feel secure you will receive your benefits on time, regardless of when the change was reported to Social Security. Waiting until you see the deposit in your new account also gives you the extra peace of mind that we processed the change correctly.

The first step in fighting procrastination is increased awareness. Knowing how easy it is to report a direct deposit change, what information to report, and when, can encourage you to get in touch with Social Security at the earliest possible moment. In addition, making sure we know about a change early ensures we help make the transition as smooth as possible.

When you have to report changes, be sure to contact us or visit us online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Social Security always strives to put you in control by providing the best experience and service no matter where, when, or how you decide to do business with us.

Working While Disabled – Social Security Can Help

By Jacqueline Weisgarber,Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

While it may be best known for retirement, Social Security is also here to help you get back to work if you are disabled. For millions of people, work isn’t just a source of income, it’s a vital part of who they are — it gives them purpose and pride — it’s a connection to community. If you’re getting Social Security disability benefits, we have good news for you. Social Security’s work incentives and Ticket to Work programs can help you if you’re interested in working. Special rules make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments.

The Ticket to Work program may help you if you’d like to work. You can receive:

o    Free vocational rehabilitation;

o    Training;

o    Job referrals; and

o    Other employment support.

You can read more about working while collecting disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

Work incentives include:

o    Continued cash benefits for a time while you work;

o    Continued Medicare or Medicaid while you work; and

o    Help with education, training, and rehabilitation to start a new line of work.

If you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits or SSI, let us know right away when you start or stop working, or if any other change occurs that could affect your benefits.

If you returned to work, but you can’t continue working because of your medical condition, your benefits can start again — you may not have to file a new application.

You can read more about the Ticket to Work program in the publication titled “Working While Disabled: How We Can Help” at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10095.pdf.

 

 

Part of securing today and tomorrow is giving you the tools to create a fulfilling life. Getting back to work might be part of that. We’re here with a ticket to a secure tomorrow.

10 powerful Ways to Use Social Security Online

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Chances are good that you use the internet or a cell phone app every day. Social Security has you covered. We’ve created online tools to make the lives of millions of people easier. We’ve put together a top ten list of easy-to-use resources for you.

Want access to our latest news, retirement planning tips, and helpful information? Social Security Matters is our blog at blog.socialsecurity.gov. There, you can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, where you can watch our popular videos.

Our online calculators, such as the Retirement Estimator, the Life Expectancy Calculator, and the Early or Late Retirement Calculator, can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/calculators.

Apply for Social Security benefits online. 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; we can be found online at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits.

Lost or missing your Social Security card? Find out how to get a new, replacement, or corrected card at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. In fact, you may be able to quickly request a replacement card online with a my Social Security account, if you meet certain qualifications, at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

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 at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Do you have to pay taxes on Social Security benefits? How do you 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 at www.socialsecurity.gov/faq.

Do you own a business? The Business Services Online Suite of Services allows organizations, businesses, individuals, employers, attorneys, non-attorneys representing Social Security claimants, and third-parties to exchange information with Social Security securely over the internet. Find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/bso/services.htm.

Have you dreamed of moving abroad? Learn how Social Security makes international payments and how you can do business with us from around the world at www.socialsecurity.gov/foreign.

Are you a veteran? Are you at mid-career? Maybe you’re new to the workforce. Find out how we fulfill your needs through life’s journey on our People Like Me page at www.socialsecurity.gov/people.

If you like to read and prefer to know all the details, our publications webpage is a library of helpful information. Access it at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

We make things simple, easy to use, and beneficial. And we’re always here to help you secure today and tomorrow, www.socialsecurity.gov.

Social Security, a Source of Independence for Millions

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

On July 4, people in communities everywhere celebrate our nation’s independence with neighbors, family, and friends. A strong community promotes independence by helping each other lead full and productive lives.

Social Security has been helping people maintain a higher quality of life and a level of independence for over 80 years. Over those decades, we’ve made it even easier for you to access the programs and benefits you might need. Now, applying online is the fastest way to get those crucial benefits.

Here are some the types of benefits you can apply for:

Retirement or Spouse's Benefits– You must be at least 61 years and 9 months old andwant your benefits to start no more than four months in the future. Apply at www.socialsecurity.gov/retireonline.

  • Disability– You can apply online for disability benefits or continue an application you already started. Apply for Disability at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityonline.
     
  • Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs– Many people need assistance with the cost of medications. Apply for Extra Help at www.socialsecurity.gov/i1020.
     
  • Medicare– Medicare is a national health insurance program administered by the U.S. federal government that began in 1966. You can apply online or continue an application you already started  at www.socialsecurity.gov/retireonline.
     
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)– SSIis a federal income program funded by general tax revenues designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. You may be able to apply online if you meet certain requirements. See if you can apply online for SSI at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/ssi.

Social Security provides benefits for millions of people including wounded warriors and children, the chronically ill and the disabled who cannot work. Find the help you or your family need at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits.

Don’t forget, our many online services can provide you and the ones you love with lifelong independence. From replacing a lost Social Security card to estimating your benefits, you can access these powerful tools at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices.

Social Security Combined Trust Fund Reserves Depletion Year Remains 2034 Says Board of Trustees

~Disability Fund Improves by Four Years~

The Social Security Board of Trustees today released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds.  The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2034, the same as projected last year, with 79 percent of benefits payable at that time. 

The OASI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted in late 2034, as compared to last year’s estimate of early 2035, with 77 percent of benefits payable at that time.  The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2032, extended from last year’s estimate of 2028, with 96 percent of benefits still payable.

In the 2018 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:

  • The asset reserves of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $44 billion in 2017 to a total of $2.89 trillion.
  • The total annual cost of the program is projected to exceed total annual income in 2018 for the first time since 1982, and remain higher throughout the 75-year projection period.  As a result, asset reserves are expected to decline during 2018.  Social Security’s cost has exceeded its non-interest income since 2010.
  • The year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, is 2034 – the same as projected last year.  At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 79 percent of scheduled benefits.

“The Trustees’ projected depletion date of the combined Social Security Trust Funds has not changed, and slightly more than three-fourths of benefits would still be payable after depletion,” said Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security.  “But the fact remains that Congress can keep Social Security strong by taking action to ensure the future of the program.”

Other highlights of the Trustees Report include:

  • Total income, including interest, to the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $997 billion in 2017.  ($874 billion from net payroll tax contributions, $38 billion from taxation of benefits, and $85 billion in interest)
  • Total expenditures from the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to more than $952 billion in 2017.
  • Social Security paid benefits of more than $941 billion in calendar year 2017.  There were about 62 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.
  • The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 2.84 percent of taxable payroll – slightly larger than the 2.83 percent projected in last year’s report.
  • During 2017, an estimated 174 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
  • The cost of $6.5 billion to administer the Social Security program in 2017 was a very low 0.7 percent of total expenditures.
  • The combined Trust Fund asset reserves earned interest at an effective annual rate of 3.0 percent in 2017.

The Board of Trustees usually comprises six members.  Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and R. Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Labor.  The two public trustee positions are currently vacant.

View the 2018 Trustees Report at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2018/.

Social Security Honors The Nation's Heroes on Memorial Day

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

On Memorial Day, we honor service members who have given their lives for our nation. Social Security acknowledges the heroism and courage of our military service members, and we remember those who have given their lives to protect our country. Part of how we honor these heroes is the way we provide Social Security benefits.

The loss of a family member is difficult for anyone. Social Security helps by providing benefits to protect service members’ dependents. Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. You can learn more about Social Security survivors benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.

It’s also important to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we have the obligation to serve them. Social Security has benefits to protect veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty or performing other work.

Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total (P&T). The VA and Social Security each have disability programs. You may find that you qualify for disability benefits through one program but not the other, or that you qualify for both. Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. You can get answers to commonly asked questions and find useful information about the application process at www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors.

Service members can also receive Social Security in addition to military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit generally does not reduce your Social Security retirement benefit. Learn more about Social Security retirement benefits atwww.socialsecurity.gov/retirement. You may also want to visit the Military Service page of ourRetirement Planner, available atwww.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/veterans.html.

Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the VA or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare. Learn more about Medicare benefits atwww.socialsecurity.gov/medicare.

In acknowledgment of those who died for our country, those who served, and those who serve today, we at Social Security honor and thank you.

Five Steps for Social Security Success

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

No matter how much you’ve planned, there’s no better time than now to think about your future. We’d like to encourage you to take Five Steps toward Your Financial Security. Planning for the future may seem intimidating to many, but we’ve broken the task down into five easy steps:

Step 1: Get to know your Social Security — You and Social Security are on a journey for life, but there is so much you may not know about the benefits and services we provide. Social Security delivers financial security to millions of children and adults before retirement; including the chronically ill, children of deceased parents, and wounded warriors. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency.

Step 2: Verify your earnings — Your benefits are calculated using your employment records. You can use your personal my Social Security account to verify that your earnings are recorded accurately. Access your account today at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Step 3: Estimate your benefits — With our Retirement Estimator, you can estimate your future retirement or disability benefits based on your actual earnings record. This can be invaluable as you plan for your future. View our calculators at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.html.

Step 4:  Apply for benefits — You can apply for retirement, Medicare, or disability benefits online through our easy-to-use, secure online application that is convenient to navigate. Read more about benefits and apply now at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits.

Step 5: Manage your benefits — Social Security puts you in control by offering convenient and secure services that fit your needs. Verify your payment information, change your address or phone number, get a benefit verification letter, and even start or change direct deposit of your benefits. See all the things you can do at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Share this information with the people you love. Get to know your Social Security and the many ways we help secure today and tomorrow for you and your family at www.socialsecurity.gov/5steps.

Replace Your Social Security Card Online

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Need to replace your lost or misplaced Social Security card? If you live in a qualifying state, our online application makes getting a replacement card easier than ever. There’s no need to sit in traffic or visit a local office or Card Center.

As long as you’re only requesting a replacement card, and no other changes, you can use our free online service from the comfort of your home or office. All you need to do is create a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Your identity and personal information matter to us. We protect your information by using strict identity verification and security features. The application process has built-in features to detect fraud and confirm your identity. Once you have a personal account, simply follow the instructions to replace your Social Security card.

In many cases, even if you lost your card, you may not need a replacement. Most of the time, simply knowing your Social Security number is enough. Visit our website to find out whether you can request your replacement Social Security card online or what the requirements are in your area at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/.

Sharing Security With Mom on Mother’s Day

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Spring is upon us, and it marks two very popular annual events: Mother’s Day and the release of Social Security’s baby name list! There’s no better time to share some security with the people you love.

While spending time with your mom on Sunday, May 13, you can help her quickly and easily sign up for a free, online my Social Security account. You can do it from home, which means more time doing the things you want to do together.

Signing up for a my Social Security account will give Mom the tools she needs to stay on top of her Social Security benefits. When she signs up at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, she can do a number of things.

If she does not receive benefits, she can:

  • Request a replacement Social Security card if she meets certain requirements;
  • Check the status of her application or appeal.
  • Get her Social Security Statement, to review:
  • Estimates of her future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits;
  • Her earnings once a year to verify the amounts that we posted are correct; and
  • The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes she’s paid.

If she does receive benefits, she can:

·         Request a replacement Social Security card if she meets certain requirements;

·         Report her wages if she works and receives Disability Insurance benefits;

·         Get her benefit verification letter;

·         Check her benefit and payment information and her earnings record;

·         Change her address and phone number;

·         Start or change direct deposit of her benefit payment;

·         Request a replacement Medicare card; and

·         Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season.

Is Mom not yet receiving Social Security benefits and still planning her retirement? Does she need a little help calculating how her benefit amount fits in with her other income sources in retirement? It’s easy to get instant, personalized benefit estimates, too. Our Retirement Estimator is the only source that provides Mom with Social Security estimates based on her own earnings record. This allows her to receive the most accurate estimate of her future retirement benefits. Visit the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Did you know that you and Mom can also share the 10 most popular male and female baby names of 2017? Social Security is the source for the most popular baby names, and we reveal the new names every year to celebrate Mother’s Day. Be sure to check our site around Mother’s Day at www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/babynames/.

Sharing information about Social Security and helping Mom sign up for a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount is a meaningful gift that shows you really care.

Checklist FOR Your Social Security Annual Check-Up

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Say “annual checkup” and most people imagine waiting at the doctor’s office. But, there’s another type of checkup that can give you a sense of wellness without even leaving home. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov and follow these five steps to conduct your own Social Security annual checkup.

Your Social Security Statement is available online anytime to everyone who has a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Creating your account gives you 24/7 access to your personal information and makes it impossible for someone else to set up an account in your name. We still send paper Statements to those who are 60 and older who don’t have an account and aren’t receiving Social Security benefits. Your Statement provides information about work credits (you need 40 credits to be entitled to a Social Security retirement benefit), estimates for retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, plus a history of your earnings.

Work Credits Count

If you have earned 40 work credits, your Statement will show estimates for retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. If you don’t have 40 work credits, the Statement shows how many you have and how many you still need to qualify for benefits.

Review Earnings Record

Review your history of earnings year by year to make sure each year is correct. This is important because Social Security benefits are based on your lifetime earnings. If any years are incorrect or missing, you may not receive all the benefits you are entitled to in the future. If you need to correct your earnings, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please have your W-2 or paystubs when you call.

Study Benefit Estimates

Review the section titled “Your Estimated Benefits.” Be sure to review not only your retirement estimate, but your disability and survivors estimates. No one likes to think about disability, but a 20-year-old worker has a one-in-four chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age, underscoring the importance of disability benefits. Since the value of the survivors insurance you have under Social Security may be more than your individual life insurance, be sure to check your survivors estimates also. 

Calculate Additional Estimates

You can use our Retirement Estimator to compute future Social Security benefits by changing variables such as retirement dates and future earnings. If you want to project what future earnings could add to your benefit, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Schedule Your Annual Check-Up

Each year, make a date with yourself to review the most recently posted year of earnings on your Statement. By checking your record every year, you can be certain when you retire that Social Security will have a correct record of earnings to use when computing benefits for you or your family members.

Social Security helps you secure your today and tomorrow by providing information to make your financial planning easier. Social Security is more than retirement; it is a family protection plan. For more information about benefits, visit us at www.socialsecurity.gov.

IT’S national social security month!

By Jacqueline Weisgarber

Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

National Social Security Month is celebrated in April and is dedicated to educating you about Social Security programs and services.  From programs that help support you through life’s journey, to services that help put you in control, to systems that help protect what’s important to you, Social Security is committed to helping secure today and tomorrow for you and your family.

During National Social Security Month, we encourage people to take control of their future with my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Create a my Social Security account to check your earnings history, confirm you have enough credits to retire, see an estimate of future benefits while still working, or manage your monthly benefits once you begin receiving them. You can also check the status of your claim or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card, and get an instant benefit verification letter.

Our Retirement Estimator is another great tool that provides you with immediate and personalized benefit estimates based on your own earnings record. This allows you to receive the most accurate estimate of your future retirement benefits. Estimate your benefits now atwww.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

After you have viewed your earnings history for accuracy, confirmed you have enough work credits to retire, and determined the best age to retire, you can get started on the next phase of your life right away by retiring online! It’s fast and easy at www.socialsecurity.gov/retireonline.

For more than 80 years, Social Security has changed to meet the needs of our customers. During National Social Security Month, and throughout the year, Social Security puts you in control with secure access to your information anytime, anywhere. From estimating or managing your benefits, requesting a replacement Social Security card, to retiring online, visit SocialSecurity.gov today, and see what you can do online at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices.

FIVE FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Most people know at least something about Social Security. For decades, Social Security has been providing valuable information and tools to help you build financial security. Here’s your opportunity to find out a little more, with some lesser-known facts about Social Security.

1. Social Security pays benefits to children.

Social Security pays benefits to unmarried children whose parents are deceased, disabled, or retired. See Benefits for Children at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10085.pdf for the specific requirements. 

2. Social Security can pay benefits to parents.

Most people know that when a worker dies, we can pay benefits to surviving spouses and children. What you may not know is that under certain circumstances, we can pay benefits to a surviving parent. Read our Fact Sheet Parent’s Benefits, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10036.pdf, for the details.

3. Widows’ and widowers’ payments can continue if remarriage occurs after age 60.

Remarriage ends survivor’s benefits when it occurs before age 60, but benefits can continue for marriages after age 60.

4. If a spouse draws reduced retirement benefits before starting spouse’s benefits (his or her spouse is younger), the spouse will not receive 50 percent of the worker’s benefit amount.

Your full spouse’s benefit could be up to 50 percent of your spouse’s full retirement age amount if you are full retirement age when you take it. If you qualify for your own retirement benefit and a spouse’s benefit, we always pay your own benefit first. (For example, you are eligible for $400 from your own retirement and $150 as a spouse for a total of $550.) The reduction rates for retirement and spouses benefits are different. If your spouse is younger, you cannot receive benefits unless he or she is receiving benefits (except for divorced spouses). If you took your reduced retirement first while waiting for your spouse to reach retirement age, when you add spouse’s benefits later, your own retirement portion remains reduced which causes the total retirement and spouses benefit together to total less than 50 percent of the worker’s amount. You can find out more at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html.

5. If your spouse’s retirement benefit is higher than your retirement benefit, and he or she chooses to take reduced benefits and dies first, your survivor benefit will be reduced, but may be higher than what your spouse received.

If the deceased worker started receiving reduced retirement benefits before their full retirement age, a special rule called the retirement insurance benefit limit may apply to the surviving spouse. The retirement insurance benefit limit is the maximum survivor benefit you may receive. Generally, the limit is the higher of:

  • The reduced monthly retirement benefit to which the deceased spouse would have been entitled if they had lived, or
  • 82.5 percent of the unreduced deceased spouse’s monthly benefit if they had started receiving benefits at their full retirement age (rather than choosing to receive a reduced retirement benefit early).

Social Security helps secure your financial future by providing the facts you need to make life’s important decisions.

WOMEN’S HISTORY and SOCIAL SECURITY

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

March is Women’s History Month. This is a time to focus not just on women’s achievements, but on the challenges women continue to face. In the 21st century, more women work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. Knowing this, you can take control of your own rich and independent history, with knowledge you can get from Social Security.

Social Security has served a vital role in the lives of women for over 80 years. With longer life expectancies than men, women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. With the national average life expectancy for women in the United States rising, many women may have decades to enjoy retirement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a female born today can expect to live more than 80 years. As a result, experts generally agree that if women want to ensure that their retirement years are comfortable, they need to plan early and wisely.

A great place to start is with Social Security’s Retirement Estimator. It gives you a personalized estimate of your retirement benefits. Plug in different retirement ages and projected earnings to get an idea of how such things might change your future benefit amounts. You can use this valuable tool at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

You should also visit Social Security’s financial planning website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners. It provides detailed information about how marriage, widowhood, divorce, self-employment, government service, and other life or career events can affect your Social Security. 

Your benefits are based on your earnings, so you should create your personal my Social Security account to verify that your earnings were reported correctly. Your account also can provide estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. You can access my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

If you want more information about how Social Security supports women through life’s journey, Social Security has a booklet that you may find useful. It’s called Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know. You can find it online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10127.html.

WHEN IS A GOOD TIME TO START receiving SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS?

After a lifetime of working, you deserve a comfortable retirement. For over 80 years, Social Security has been helping people shape their future, assisting them with a variety of benefits. It’s up to you as to when you can start retirement benefits. You could start them a little earlier or wait until your “full retirement age,” or delay retirement to get extra money each month. There are benefits to either decision.

Full retirement age refers to the age when a person can receive their Social Security benefits without any reduction, even if they are still working part or full time. In other words, you don’t actually need to stop working to get your full benefits.

For people who reach age 62 in 2018 (i.e., those born between January 2, 1956 and January 1, 1957), full retirement age is 66 and four months. Full retirement age was age 65 for many years. However, due to a law passed by Congress in 1983, it has been gradually increasing, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, until it reaches 67 for everybody born after 1959.

You can learn more about the full retirement age and find out how to look up your own at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/retirechart.html.

You can start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 or any time after that. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly benefit will be, although it stops increasing at age 70. Your monthly benefits will be reduced permanently if you start them any time before your full retirement age. For example, if you start receiving benefits in 2018 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced permanently by nearly 27 percent.

On the other hand, if you wait to start receiving your benefits until after your full retirement age, then your monthly benefit will be higher. The amount of this increase is two-thirds of one percent for each month –– or eight percent for each year –– that you delay receiving them until you reach age 70. The choices you make may affect any benefit your spouse or children can receive on your record, too. If you receive benefits early, it may reduce their potential benefit, as well as yours.

You need to be as informed as possible when making any decision about receiving Social Security benefits. Read the publication When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10147.pdf.

When to start receiving retirement benefits is a personal decision based on your own situation. Check out our Retirement Checklist at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10377.pdf to learn about additional factors to consider as you think about when to start receiving your retirement benefits.

If you decide to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, you should also understand how continuing to work can affect your benefits. Social Security may withhold or reduce your benefits if your annual earnings exceed a certain amount. However, for every month benefits are withheld, it may increase your future benefits. That’s because at your full retirement age Social Security will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for the months in which benefits were reduced or withheld due to your excess earnings. You can learn more at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html.

Social Security’s mission is to secure your today and tomorrow. You can learn more by visiting our Retirement Planner at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire.

YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS HELP MILLIONS

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Seeing taxes taken out of your paycheck can be confusing when you get your first paycheck. But understanding how important your contribution is can help. Your taxes are helping millions of Americans — wounded warriors, the chronically ill, and people with disabilities — as well asprotecting you and your family for life. You can take pride in knowing you’re making an important impact with each paycheck.

By law, employers must withhold Social Security taxes from a worker’s paycheck. While often referred to as “Social Security taxes” on an employee’s pay statement, sometimes the deduction is labeled as “FICA” which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, a reference to the original Social Security Act. In some cases, you will see “OASDI” which stands for Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance.

The taxes you pay now translate to a lifetime of protection — for retirement in old age or in the event of disability. And if you die, your family (or future family) may be able to receive survivors benefits based on your work as well.

Because you may be a long way from retirement, you might have a tough time seeing the value of benefit payments that could be many decades in the future. But keep in mind that the Social Security taxes you’re paying can provide valuable disability or survivors benefits now in the event the unexpected happens. Studies show that of today’s 20-year-olds, about one in four will become disabled, and about one in eight will die before reaching retirement.

If you’d like to learn a little more about Social Security and exactly what you’re building up for yourself by paying Social Security taxes, take a look at our online booklet, How You Earn Credits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10072.html.

If you have a friend who lost a parent when they were a child, they probably got Social Security survivors benefits. Social Security helps by providing income for the families of workers who die. In fact, 98 of every 100 children could get benefits if a working parent dies. And Social Security pays more benefits to children than any other federal program. You can learn more at www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/.

Do you prefer videos to reading? Check out the webinar, "Social Security 101: What's in it for me?" The webinar explains what you need to know about Social Security. You can find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/multimedia/webinars/social_security_101.html as well as on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hkLaBiavqQ.

Social Security is with you through life’s journey. You can learn more at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

Connecting With Social Security

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia 

Every day thousands use it to do business with Social Security. We strive to offer the kind of services that meet people’s needs.  And sometimes you want fast and direct answers over the phone. We have that option.

You can call us toll free at 1-800-772-1213. Social Security offers some automated services that allow people to receive service without waiting to speak to a representative. The automated services are available 24 hours a day and include some of the most popular services that people need. With automated services, you can request a benefit verification (proof of income) letter, replace a lost SSA-1099 (tax summary needed for taxes), request a replacement Medicare card, ask for form SSA-1020 to apply for help with Medicare prescription drug costs, or request an SS-5 application for a Social Security card.

When our automated services ask such things as, “How can I help you?” Just say, “Get a proof of income letter” or “Replace Medicare card.” Next, you will be asked for some personal information to identify yourself, then we will respond to your request. We will mail you the document or form you requested. It takes less time to use automated services than to reach a representative by phone on a busy day. 

Sometimes, you just need Social Security information such as, “What date will my check arrive?” or “What is the SSI program?” Automated services feature some informational messages about these popular topics. If payment delivery date is the type of info you need, when asked “How can I help you?” just reply “Payment delivery date.” You will hear a recorded message stating the current month and the future month’s payment dates. Other topics include direct deposit, SSI messages, the cost-of-living adjustment, Medicare prescription drug program, tax information, representative payee, and fraud. Dial, and listen — what a simple way to stay informed.

Whether you use our automated services, speak to a representative by phone, use our website, or visit an office, Social Security wants to connect with you. Connection is a vital part of helping you secure your today and tomorrow. To connect with us through our automated services, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact/phone.html.

Celebrating Our Nation’s Diversity

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

January 15 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday and a day of remembrance. Martin Luther King, Jr. dedicated his life to creating and fostering equal rights for African Americans, and he died during his efforts to make his dream a reality.

Diversity of skills, knowledge, and perspective is what you want when putting together a strong team. In a way, America is a super team of diverse members, all of whom dream of prosperity and success. Many people honor Martin Luther King, Jr. for dedicating his life to showing us that diversity is a strength.

Social Security’s “People Like Me” website has custom information for preparing for your future. Our diverse country is made up of countless backgrounds, ethnicities, and nationalities, yet we all want the same thing — a secure future. You can see the many diverse people we serve at www.socialsecurity.gov/people.

Younger people need to know that the earlier you start saving, the more your money can grow. Our website for young workers at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/youngpeople/saving.html has many resources that can help you secure today and tomorrow.

Veterans and wounded warriors, as well as their families, sometimes face unique obstacles when saving for their future. Our website has great resources and information at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/veterans.

Social Security values your diverse skillset and knowledge. That’s what makes our country a world leader. Now you can take the lead and show your friends and family what Social Security has to offer.

Social Security Announces New Online Service for Replacement Social Security Cards in Virginia

Available to People through a mySocial Security Account

The Social Security Administration introduced the expansion of online services for residents of Virginiaavailable through its my Social Security portal at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced that residents of Virginia can use the portal for many replacement Social Security number (SSN) card requests. This will allow people to replace their SSN card from the comfort of their home or office, without the need to travel to a Social Security office.

“I’m pleased to offer the residents of Virginia the added convenience of replacing a Social Security card through the my Social Security portal,” Acting Commissioner Berryhill said. “We will continue to work on innovative initiatives to provide people with safe, secure and convenient options for doing business with us online or in person.”

The agency is conducting a gradual roll out of this service; Virginia is one of the states, plus the District of Columbia, where this option is available. Throughout 2017, the agency will continue to expand the service option to other states. This service will mean shorter wait times for the public in the more than 1,200 Social Security offices across the country and allows staff more time to work with customers who have extensive service needs.

U.S. citizens age 18 or older and who are residents of Virginia can request a replacement SSN card online by creating a my Social Security account. In addition, they must have a U.S. domestic mailing address, not require a change to their record (such as a name change), and have a valid driver’s license, or state identification card in some participating states.

mySocial Securityis a secure online hub for doing business with Social Security, and more than 31 million people have created an account. In addition to Virginia residents replacing their SSN card through the portal, current Social Security beneficiaries can manage their account—change an address, adjust direct deposit, obtain a benefit verification letter, or request a replacement SSA-1099. Medicare beneficiaries can request a replacement Medicare card without waiting for a replacement form in the mail. Account holders still in the workforce can verify their earnings history and obtain estimates of future benefits by looking at their Social Security Statement online.

For more information about this new online service, visitwww.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Social security celebrates hispanic heritage month

By Jackie Weisgarber

Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

We know the importance of “familia” in Hispanic culture, and we’re proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) by helping build a secure future for you, your family, and your future family.

You can learn more about how Social Security helps secure today and tomorrow for millions of families by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/people/hispanics/.

Hispanics make up our nation’s largest ethnic minority group with a population of 56.6 million, according to 2015 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. Social Security is here to help  maintain and improve our economic well-being for generations to come.

Currently, we do this by providing retirement, disability, and other benefits to 61 million people, including nearly 3.5 million Hispanics, who have contributed to the Social Security system through their payroll taxes. Social Security also provides a safety net to the families of American workers who become unable to work due to grave impairments or have died.

We work hard to provide enhanced customer service and to educate millions of Americans about the importance of our programs and benefits. This allows us to connect with the Hispanic community in meaningful and efficient ways.

 

If Spanish is your primary language, you can visit www.segurosocial.gov, our Spanish-language website. It provides hundreds of pages of important information about how to get a Social Security card, plan for retirement, apply for benefits, and manage your benefits once you’re receiving them. Many of our offices have staff who speak Spanish, or you can call 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and select the option for Spanish.

Nationwide, our public affairs specialists reach out to thousands of Hispanic Americans each year to raise awareness of the benefits they may qualify for and to learn the advantages of setting up a my Social Security account atwww.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

These specialists promote our programs at local events, health fairs, libraries, schools, and community organizations that serve the public, including the Hispanic population. Some of our bilingual staff serve as contributors to Spanish-language television, radio stations, and newspapers. They also visit embassies and consulates in the U.S. representing Latin American countries to educate diplomatic leaders and new immigrants about Social Security programs.

Spanish-speaking individuals wishing to apply for retirement, disability, survivor, and other benefits, as well as Medicare, can now request an appointment online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyforbenefitsfor an in-person interview or telephone claim with a representative. In many cases, you can make an appointment with a bilingual representative.

We’re with you and your family throughout life’s journey. To learn more about Social Security programs, visit www.segurosocial.govor www.socialsecurity.gov

It’s MORE CONVENIENT than Ever to Apply for Social Security Benefits

By Jackie Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

You’ve worked hard your whole life, and receiving your Social Security benefits should be the icing on the cake at your retirement party.We’re working hard to make it as quick and seamless as possible for you to apply for benefits from Social Security.

Simply visit www.socialsecurity.gov/applyforbenefitsto get started.Through our safe and secure website, you can apply for:

o    Retirement benefits;

o    Spousal benefits;

o    Medicare;

o    Disability benefits;

o    Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs; and, in some cases,

o    Supplemental Security Income.

You don’t have to be internet savvy to finish most of our online applications in one sitting with your computer. Or, if you prefer, we offer you the options to apply in person at your Social Security office or by telephone with one of our application representatives. Please call 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays to schedule an appointment.

You should also call us to schedule an appointment if you wish to apply for certain family benefits, including those for surviving spouses and children, divorced spouses and dependent children, and parents of beneficiaries.

After you’ve applied for benefits — whether online, by phone, or in person — you can securely and quickly check the status of a pending claim through your online my Social Security account. If you haven’t created your account yet, you can do so today by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

You can also use my Social Security to view estimates of how much you would receive in retirement benefits and potential disability benefits and how much your loved ones could receive in family or survivor benefits.

We’re with you throughout life’s journey, from applying for your first job to receiving your first retirement payment. And we’re proud to help ensure a secure future for you and your loved ones.

To learn more about our programs and online services, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

DON’T GET SCHOOLED, GET SMART ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY

By Jackie Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Your summer job might be ending soon. You might even hold a part time job while you’re in school. You can easily jump to the head of the class and secure your future with a few simple steps. As a young worker, you’re 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’ll have.

There are two easy ways to get started in preparing for retirement:

Open a free online my Social Security account with Social Security. 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 or on the go without traveling to a Social Security office. To open or access your account, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

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 your lost or misplaced Social Security card online in certain areas.

You could also start a myRA account. myRA is designed for people who don’t have a retirement savings plan through their employer, or are limited from other savings options. Check it out at www.myra.gov. If your employer provides a retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k), learn more about that plan’s potential matching contributions or other benefits. It’s never too early, and the more you save now, the more you’ll have later.

Did you know that a 20-year-old 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. To learn more about disability and to apply, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi/apply.html.

The earlier you start preparing for the future, the more comfortable that future will be. Like a good friend, Social Security has your back when it comes to retirement planning or in the unfortunate event of disability. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov.  

WHY IT PAYS TO KEEP A CAREFUL EYE ON YOUR EARNINGS RECORD

By Jackie Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

Whether you’re ready to retire, just joining the workforce, or somewhere in between, regularly reviewing your Social Security earnings record could make a big difference when it’s time to collect your retirement benefits.

Just think, in some situations, if an employer did not properly report just one year of your work earnings to us, your future benefit payments from Social Security could be close to $100 per month less than they should be. Over the course of a lifetime, that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in retirement or other benefits to which you are entitled.

Social Security prevents many mistakes from ever appearing on your earnings record. On average, we process about 236 million W-2 wage reports from employers, representing more than $5 trillion in earnings. More than 98 percent of these wages are successfully posted with little problem.

But it’s ultimately the responsibility of your employers — past and present — to provide accurate earnings information to Social Security so you get credit for the contributions you’ve made through payroll taxes. We rely on you to inform us of any errors or omissions. You’re the only person who can look at your lifetime earnings record and verify that it’s complete and correct.

So, what’s the easiest and most efficient way to validate your earnings record?

o    Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to set up or sign in to your own my Social Security account;

o    Under the “My Home” tab, click on “Earnings Record” to view your online Social Security Statement and taxed Social Security earnings;

o    Carefully review each year of listed earnings and use your own records, such as W-2s and tax returns, to confirm them; and

o    Keep in mind that earnings from this year and last year may not be listed yet.

If you notice that you need to correct your earnings record, check out our one-page fact sheet at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10081.pdf.

Sooner is definitely better when it comes to identifying and reporting problems with your earnings record. As time passes, you may no longer have past tax documents and some employers may no longer be in business or able to provide past payroll information.

If it turns out everything in your earnings record is correct, you can use the information and our online calculators at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.html to plan for your retirement and prepare for the unexpected, such as becoming disabled or leaving behind survivors. We use your top 35 years of earnings when we calculate your benefit amounts. You can learn more about how your benefit amount is calculated at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10070.pdf.

We’re with you throughout life’s journey, from starting your first job to receiving your well-earned first retirement payment.  Learn more about the services we provide online at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices.

Social Security AND MEDICARE aRE Lasting Sources of Independence

By Jackie Weisgarber. Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, Virginia

In July, communities everywhere celebrate our nation’s independence with fireworks, family, and friends. A strong community also creates independence as we help each other recognize our full potential.

Social Security has been helping people maintain a higher quality of life and a level of independence for over 80 years. And Medicare has been doing the same for over five decades. Most people first become eligible for Medicare at age 65. For many older Americans, this is their primary health insurance and without it, they might not enjoy an independent lifestyle.

Medicare can be a little confusing to newcomers so we’ve broken it down into segments. The four parts of Medicare are as easy as A, B, C, and D.

  • Part A(Hospital Insurance) helps cover inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing care, hospice care, and home health care. Most people get Medicare Part A premium-free since it is earned by working and paying Social Security taxes.
  • Part B(Medical Insurance) helps cover services from doctors and other outpatient health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some preventive services. Most people pay a monthly premium for Part B. Some high-income individuals pay more than the standard premium. If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period and then decide to do so later, your coverage may be delayed and you may have to pay a higher monthly premium for as long as you have Part B.
  • Part C(Medicare Advantage) allows you to choose to receive all of your health care services through a provider organization. This plan includes all benefits and services covered under Part A and Part B, usually includes Medicare prescription drug coverage, and may include extra benefits and services at an extra cost. You must have Part A and Part B to enroll in Part C. Monthly premiums vary depending on the state where you live, private insurer, and whether you select a health maintenance organization or a preferred provider organization.
  • Part D(Medicare prescription drug coverage) helps cover the cost of prescription drugs. Many people pay a premium for Part D. However, people with low income and resources may qualify for Extra Help to pay the premium and deductible. If you don’t enroll in a Medicare drug plan when you’re first eligible, you may pay a late enrollment penalty if you join a plan later. You will have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage. To see if you qualify for extra help visit www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

Will you be age 65 soon? Even if you decide not to retire, you should apply for Medicare. You can apply in less than 10 minutes using our online Medicare application. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareto learn more about applying for Medicare. 

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