Editor's Note: Below are the latest news and helpful information from the Social Security Administration press office:
Social Security Launches 1st National my Social Security Week
In honor of the 79th Anniversary of the Social Security Act, Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, invites everyone to celebrate the first National my Social Security Week. From August 17 through 23, 2014, Social Security will host numerous events to highlight the many benefits of a my Social Security account, a personalized online account people can establish atwww.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount beginning in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits.
"I am excited about the first National my Social Security Week. A my Social Security account is a convenient, cost-effective and secure way for the public to do business with us from the comfort of their home, office or library," Acting Commissioner Colvin said.
With a my Social Security account, people can take control of their future by accessing their online Social Security Statement, which is a great financial planning tool that provides workers age 18 and over their complete earnings history and estimates for future retirement, disability and survivors benefits. The Statement allows workers to verify the accuracy of their earnings each year. This is important since earnings are the basis for determining future retirement benefits. Individuals who currently receive benefits can sign up for a my Social Security account to get an instant benefit verification letter, change their address and phone number, and start or change direct deposit of their benefit payment.
To date, over 13 million people have established an account. Events during my Social Security week include a Twitter chat on "my Social Security and Planning for Your Financial Future;" my Social Security sign-up events nationwide at local churches, libraries, federal government agencies, large employers, youth centers/organizations, senior centers, and colleges and universities; social media outreach including a Thunderclap campaign, and a National radio media tour.
"I am proud Social Security continues to provide world-class customer service that meets the changing needs of the public," Acting Commissioner Colvin said. "For those who aren't comfortable with the Internet and prefer to conduct business with us by telephone or face-to-face, we remain committed to maintaining a network of local offices to provide our services." For more information, please go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
You Work Hard for the Money (and Security)
You and your clients have labored hard throughout the year. Hard work amounts to more than just money; you’re also building benefits for your and your family’s future. This Labor Day weekend may be a good time to consider the fruits of your labor. A great starting point is Social Security's Retirement Estimator atwww.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. The Estimator is an easy way to get an instant, personalized estimate of future retirement benefits. The Estimator uses a worker's actual earnings history to calculate a benefit estimate but, for privacy purposes, we do not display the earnings. You or your clients can enter a variety of scenarios, such as different earnings amounts and retirement dates, to find out how these variables will change the benefit amounts.
Another great way to keep up with the fruits of your labor is by opening a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity. gov/myaccount. With a personal account, you can check your earnings record, get your Social Security Statement for details about your future benefits, and much more.
It’s your turn to provide recommendations to us as to how the Social Security Administration will support the public in 2025 and beyond. We’re asking for your help to envision the future of how Social Security conducts business with the public. “Vision 2025,” our long-term vision and strategic plan for the agency’s future, is now being developed and will serve as a blueprint for how we deliver services to the American public in the next 10 to15 years and beyond.
We value your opinions and welcome your honest input. We’ve received a lot of comments and ideas, which you are welcome to see for yourself. Read the comments, and share with us your opinions at http://ssa1.ideascale.com/. Join us in creating a bright future. Learn more about Vision 2025 at our page devoted to the future. www.socialsecurity. gov/agency/asp/Vision2025.html
Disability Application Process: A Video Series Guide
If you want to learn more about what happens behind the scenes when someone applies for Social Security disability benefits, we have created videos for you. The video series, “Social Security Disability Claims Process,” includes seven parts: an introduction, applying for disability benefits, medical evidence, quality review, the appeals process, the Appeals Council, and the final steps in the claims process.
Q: Do I qualify for benefits as a spouse if I am now in, or the surviving spouse of, a civil union or other non-marital legal relationship? A: Social Security is now processing some retirement, surviving spouse and lump-sum death payment claims for same-sex couples in non-marital legal relationships and paying benefits where they are due. We encourage you to apply right away for benefits, even if you aren't sure you are eligible. Applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits. If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage may affect your claim, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325- 0778) or contact your local Social Security office.
Q: When will Social Security begin paying benefits to same-sex married couples and surviving spouses? A: Social Security is now processing some retirement, surviving spouse and lump-sum death payment claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due. We also are considering same-sex marriages when processing some claims for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We are working with the Department of Justice to develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions. If you believe you may be eligible for retirement or survivors benefits or SSI, we encourage you to apply now to protect you against the loss of any potential benefits. We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized. If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage may affect your claim, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.
Q: Do I qualify for benefits if I live in a place that prohibits or does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or other non- marital legal same-sex relationships? A: We encourage you to apply right away for benefits, even if you aren't sure you qualify. Applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits. If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage, civil union, or other non-marital legal relationship may affect your claim, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.
Q: How does the recent Supreme Court decision about the Defense of Marriage Act affect my enrollment in Medicare? A: Medicare is managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS). SSA works with CMS by determining eligibility for and enrolling people in Medicare. You can find information regarding Medicare eligibility and enrollment for same-sex couples at www.medicare.gov.