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Sign up for a my Social Security Account

By: Diana Varela, Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration

We are excited to announce that August 17 -23, 2014 will mark our First National my Social Security Week!. Whether retirement seems like it is just around the corner or years away, it is good to know that Social Security is working for you now—even if you are not receiving benefits yet. How? By providing you with the information you need to plan ahead for the retirement you want.

One of the best tools for planning a secure retirement is waiting for you at www.socialsecurity.gov: a my Social Security account. When you create your personal my Social Security online account, you will be able to get your online Social Security Statement, review your lifetime earnings history (and catch any errors while it is easier to fix them), see estimates of your future benefits, and more—important information that can help you plan and save for greater peace of mind.

Opening a my Social Security account online is quick, safe, free, and easy. It takes only minutes. Go to the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov and click on my Social Security. Then follow the instructions for creating your secure, online account. You must be at least 18 years of age and have:

  • A valid e-mail address,
  • A Social Security number, and
  • A U.S. mailing address.

You will also need to provide some personal information and answer some questions only you are likely to know. This process protects you and keeps your information private. There are extra security features, too. You can have unique text message codes sent to your cell phone each time you want to sign in. There is even an address bar at the top of your screen indicating the website has an extended validation certificate. This means the information you provide to Social Security will be encrypted and that the website has been verified by a certification authority.

Once you see your estimated retirement benefits, you can really start to plan, invest, and save with more confidence. You can even explore when you might retire. 

While Social Security will be here to provide you with a secure foundation in the future, it was never intended to be your sole source of retirement income. You may want to put aside more for a comfortable retirement.

And once you do retire, or start receiving benefits for any reason, your my Social Security account is the best place to manage those benefits. You can use your account to get an instant benefit verification letter, change your address and phone number on Social Security’s records, and start or change direct deposit of your benefit payment.

More than 11 million people have opened a safe and secure my Social Security account. Join them—take control of your future retirement security by signing up for a my Social Security account. Learn more and create yours today at www.socialsecurity.gov.

It is never too early—or too late—to plan for retirement.

Read this note in Spanish.

Image description:
From PBS:

August 14, 1935: FDR Signs Social Security Act into Law
On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which was originally designed to provide economic security during the Great Depression.  Funded through a 2% payroll tax, the 1935 Social Security Act offered aid for the unemployed, the elderly, children and various state health and welfare programs.
Learn more about all the Roosevelts with preview videos from Ken Burns’s The Roosevelts.
Photo: Library of Congress

Image description:

From PBS:

August 14, 1935: FDR Signs Social Security Act into Law

On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which was originally designed to provide economic security during the Great Depression.  Funded through a 2% payroll tax, the 1935 Social Security Act offered aid for the unemployed, the elderly, children and various state health and welfare programs.

Learn more about all the Roosevelts with preview videos from Ken Burns’s The Roosevelts.

Photo: Library of Congress

Answers to Your Most Frequent Questions about Social Security Benefits

During Financial Literacy Month we asked our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ friends what questions they had related to Social Security benefits and retirement. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we received and the answers that our partner at the Social Security Administration provided.

What is the minimum age to collect Social Security benefits?

As early as 62 years of age for reduced benefits, or unreduced benefits at your full retirement age.  Full retirement depends on your year of birth. Learn about the pros and cons of early retirement or delaying retirement.

How can I collect benefits if I have a child with a disability?

If you are the parent of a child who has a physical or mental impairment that causes severe functional limitations, your child could be eligible for Supplemental Security Income. Visit:http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/ssi.htm to learn more and complete a disability report. You can also call 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment with the SSA.

Is my spouse eligible for benefits?

A spouse could receive an amount equal to 50 percent of the amount the beneficiary receives at full retirement age, if the spouse is of full retirement age as well. If this spouse receives a pension from an employer not covered under Social Security, benefits will be reduced. You can find more information on the Government Pension Offset (PDF).

Survivor benefits, how does this work?

If you are a widow, the child or the parent of a deceased worker, you may be eligible for monthly benefits orLump-Sum Death Payment.

There is no statute of limitations on receiving survivor death benefits if you are a child, parent or surviving spouse of a deceased worker for as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.  Detailed information can also be found here information here: How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies (PDF).

What are the benefit implications of delaying retirement?

If retirement is delayed, the worker will be eligible for Delayed Retirement Credits. Delayed Retirement Credits from Social Security are an eight percent increase in the benefits for every year, after worker turns Full Retirement Age, and benefits are delayed.

If a beneficiary currently receives Social Security benefits, and he or she is not of full retirement age, up to $15,480.00 in 2014 could be earn in regular or self – employment. Social Security will deduct $1 from the benefits for each $2 earned above that limit.

If you reach full retirement age this year, the beneficiary can earn $41,400 in the months before the month full retirement age is attained. If he or she earns above the limit, Social Security will deduct $1 from these benefits for every $3 earned above the limit.


How do I apply for Medicare?

A worker is eligible for Medicare at 65 years old.  Younger workers would be eligible if receiving disability benefits (there is a 24 months waiting period).  More information is available at  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/medicare.htm

Medicare does not pay for all the costs of medical expenses. Some beneficiaries choose to enroll in Medicare supplemental insurance. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offers more information about Medigap policies (supplemental insurance).


What if I collect other benefits from the federal government?

Social Security benefits are not affected by a Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) pension.  However, a pension from The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) will reduce Social Security benefits if you apply for benefits on your Spouse’s Social Security record. More information on the Government Pension Offset is available on the Social Security Administration’s website.

My benefits seem to low, how can I have my benefits reviewed?

It is possible to be eligible for additional benefits if the beneficiary does not have any other income and has limited resources. Social Security has a toll free number 1-800-772-1213 where a representative can be requested to review a record.

I currently live outside of the United States, can I still collect benefits?

If a beneficiary has worked in the United States but now lives abroad it may be possible to collect benefits. More information on payments while overseas is on the Social Security Administration’s website. A beneficiary can also contact the U.S. embassy in the country where they reside.

More questions or concerns regarding your benefits?

Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 and speak to a representative who can review your record or who could further help answer your questions.

Government Benefits for People With Disabilities

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five people are affected by disabilities. Some of those disabilities happen at birth, while others are the result of injury, illness, or aging.

Despite the limitations these conditions may cause, there are government programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities.

Social Security benefits
The Social Security Administration offers two programs to help people with disabilities and, often, the benefits can last for over a year. The programs are:

To apply for these benefits, contact the Social Security offices at 1-800-772-1213 or at 1-800-325-0778 (TTY for the hearing impaired).

Help for military personnel
There is also help for veterans who become disabled or injured while performing military service. Some of these benefits include:

  • Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay. This benefit is for retired veterans who are 50 to 90 percent disabled. The amount of payment is determined by the person’s degree of disability. Veterans who are completely disabled receive the full benefit.
  • Combat-Related Special Compensation. Retired veterans who were injured during military combat receive tax-free monthly payments.

Disabled military personnel and veterans can also receive financial help to buy a car that accommodates their needs, get dental care, a clothing allowance, and more. You can read more about benefits for disabled veterans (PDF).

You can apply for these programs by calling 1-800-827-1000 or by visiting the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

It’s worth noting that some veterans may also receive disability benefits from Social Security.

Help for special education
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides free education services to children with special needs, to help them develop, learn, and succeed in school.

Those who meet the requirements receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP), a plan that contains individualized learning goals as well as the services the child needs.

If your child has a disability, talk to the school staff to find out how to receive these special education benefits.

Read this note in Spanish.

WATCH: What are Social Security credits and why do you need to earn them?