Some tips on dealing with Social Security - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Some tips on dealing with Social Security

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MONROE, La., (KNOE 8 News) - Many people save time by going online to take care of everyday tasks. For example, they shop online to avoid going to crowded malls or stores. They pay bills and check their account balances online to save a trip to the bank.

It's true of Social Security business as well!

Tip one: You can save a lot of time by visiting http://www.socialsecurity.gov/.

Here, you can handle much of your Social Security business quickly and securely from your home or office computer. At the Social Security website you can —

  • create a my Social Security account for quick access to your information;get an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefits
  • apply for retirement, disability, spouse's, and Medicare benefits;
  • check the status of your benefit application;
  • change your address and phone number, if you receive monthly Social Security benefits;
  • sign-up for direct deposit of Social Security benefits;use our benefit planners to help you better understand your Social Security options as you plan for your financial future;
  • request a replacement Medicare card; and
  • apply for Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug costs.

Looking for more Social Security information? Go online to find out almost anything you need to know about the Social Security program. Information is available on subjects ranging from how to get a Social Security number for a newborn to returning to work while receiving disability benefits.

And since April 22 is Earth Day, here's another tip: going online is good for the planet. It saves more than just your time — it also saves paper, emissions, and energy.

If you need to reach us by phone, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. We treat all calls confidentially. We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Generally, you'll have a shorter wait time if you call during the week after Tuesday. We can provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day. (You can use our automated response system to tell us a new address or request a replacement Medicare card.) If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

No matter how you choose to contact us, Social Security is here to assist you. We encourage you to give our website a try. You'll get fast, convenient service by going to www.socialsecurity.gov

YOUR NUMBER IS YOUR CARD

Often times, people decide they need to apply for a new Social Security card because they can't find their old one. As long as you have all of the required information and documentation, it's not difficult to obtain a replacement Social Security card. But here's even better news: you probably don't need the card.

When you think about it, your Social Security number is your Social Security card. That is, knowing your number is usually all you'll ever need. Know your number by heart, and you'll never leave home without it.

In the event that you really do want or need to get a replacement card, either for yourself or for a child, you can find all the details at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. The "Get Or Replace a Social Security Card" page provides information on how to obtain a replacement card and what specific documents you need to provide. Each situation is unique, but in most cases you simply need to print, complete, and either mail or bring the application to Social Security with the appropriate documentation (originals or certified copies only).

In almost all cases, though, an application for your newborn's Social Security card and number is taken in the hospital at the same time that you apply for your baby's birth certificate.

There are a number of reasons a baby or child may need a Social Security number, but the main one is so that you can claim your child as a dependent on your tax return. Your child also will need a Social Security number to apply for certain government and social service benefits.

Whether you need a Social Security card for yourself or your child, it's easy to apply for one. But remember: if you already have one and just can't find it, in most cases all you really need is to know your number. Memorize your Social Security number, and you'll never leave home without it.

Learn more about your Social Security card and number at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

RETIRE ON YOUR OWN TERMS

Most Americans are aware that they need to save for retirement. It is a topic that is easy to brush aside to a later date because although the subject is important, it may not seem urgent. But the longer you put off some basic retirement planning, the harder it will be to catch up later.

Now is the perfect time to give it some thought, as National Retirement Planning Week takes place in April.

We'd like to share with you a few important items about Social Security retirement benefits.

When you decide to retire, the easiest and most convenient way to do it is right from the comfort of your home or office computer. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov where you can apply for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes. In most cases, there are no forms to sign or documents to send; once you submit your electronic application, that's it!

In addition to using our award-winning website, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit the Social Security office nearest you. Either way you choose to apply, be sure to have your bank account information handy so we can set up your payments to be deposited directly into your account.

Your age when you start to receive Social Security makes a difference in your benefit amount. The full retirement age (the age at which 100 percent of retirement benefits are payable) has been gradually rising from age 65 to age 67. You can retire as early as age 62, but if benefits start before you reach your full retirement age, your monthly payment is reduced. Find out what your full retirement age is by typing in your year of birth at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ageincrease.htm.

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