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- In early 2000 the Social Security Administration (SSA) launched Social Security e-news, an electronic newsletter available free to subscribers through the Agency's Internet site. Subscribers sign-up by providing only their e-mail address.
- Subscribers to Social Security e-news have several options available to them. Just by subscribing they will receive a monthly newsletter containing general Social Security news. The e-news stories relate to current program developments and related events and are geared to the information needs of both current workers and beneficiaries.
- In addition to the monthly general newsletter, subscribers can also elect to receive timely news updates on ten specific topics: disability, retirement, survivors, SSI, Medicare, laws & regulations, Press Office, wage reporting, seniors, and data, studies & research.
- SSA's first Social Security e-news newsletter went out on March 1, 2000. Social Security e-news currently has more than 150,000 subscribers.
- In April 2000, SSA unveiled a new online benefits planner - an electronic service to help Americans better prepare for their financial future.
- The Social Security Benefits Planner allows individuals to compute estimates of their future Social Security retirement benefits and current disability and survivors benefits online at SSA's Internet website.
- The planner provides users with three options for obtaining an estimate of their Social Security benefit -
1) The Quick Calculator produces a very rough estimate that only requires people to provide their age and current earnings. Benefit estimates are provided for reduced retirement at age 62, full retirement age and age 70.
2) The Online Calculator produces a benefit estimate based on past, present and projected future information input by users. Workers can create various scenarios such as when they plan to retire and how much they expect to earn in the future.
3) For the Detailed and most elaborate estimate, an individual can download and install a software program on a personal computer (PC). The interactive program allows workers the most flexibility to customize their estimates based on differing scenarios and produces a variety of benefit numbers for retirement, survivors and disability benefits for both workers
and their families.
NOTE: To maintain privacy and to protect records from unauthorized users, none of the calculators are linked to individual earnings records or any other information in SSA's
database. All benefit estimates are based strictly on input from the users.
- The Benefits Planner includes information about the interplay of pensions and savings in retirement planning.
The Benefits Planner provides seamless access to the American Savings Education Council's (ASEC's) "Ballpark Estimate" worksheet. The ASEC worksheet allows customers to comprehensively plan for their retirement, including Social Security benefits, accumulated savings, and pensions. Linking to the ASEC Ballpark worksheet provides customers with a "one stop shop" for retirement planning.
- The Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Benefits Planners are online information products within the Benefits Planner designed to provide customers with information on who qualifies and how to apply for these benefit programs.
- Since the Benefits Planner debut in April 2000, more than 1.1 million visitors have used this site.
Internet Retirement Insurance Benefits Application
- Effective November 2, 2000, SSA began offering a new online service for individuals who are applying for Social Security Retirement Benefits. The Internet application allows individuals to apply for their retirement benefits at their convenience. SSA advises people to file for benefits 3 months before they want their benefits to begin. Individuals may go directly to www.ssa.gov/applytoretire to start the online application process.
- To use this service, people must be 61 years and 9 months or older and plan to start receiving retirement benefits within 4 months. They must also reside in the United States or one of its territories, have a working printer connected to their computer, and agree to receive their benefits by direct deposit. Individuals who are currently receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits or have already applied for retirement or disability benefits will not be able to use the online service.
- Answers to eight screening questions will determine whether or not a person can proceed and file for retirement benefits over the Internet. Those who meet the conditions are presented with information describing the application process and then move on to the actual application. Various online screens will be presented and individuals are asked to answer a number of questions as they navigate through the online application. The answers provided on the screens are used by SSA to make an entitlement determination on an individual's claim for Social Security Retirement Benefits.
- Upon completion of the online application, a person's application is electronically sent to SSA. At this point, individuals must print the application, sign it, and mail or bring it to the address provided by SSA.
- Along with the signed application, applicants must also submit any applicable documentation needed to process their claim, such as:
-W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for last year
-Military discharge papers (if there is military service)
-A Claim Confirmation Number is provided to every applicant. The confirmation number can be used to update an application that has not been finished, check on the status of the application once it has been sent to Social Security, and register a password with SSA to conduct business online in the future.
- Since November 2000, SSA has received almost 34,000 successful online benefit applications.
Internet Spouse's Benefits Application
- Effective April 2001, SSA expanded its online benefits application to enable individuals to apply for spouse's benefits.
- Now, wives and husbands of those individuals applying for retirement benefits may apply for spouse's benefits at the same time.
- The process and requirements for applying for spouse's benefits are the same as those for retirement benefits.
- In May 2000, SSA launched a web site containing important information and support for disability beneficiaries, employers, service providers, advocates and others whose goal is to help those persons with disabilities work.
- Persons with disabilities face serious challenges when attempting to enter the workforce. The Work Site is designed to be an important information source. It provides information on everything from training programs for people with disabilities to tax incentives for the employers who hire them.
- The Work Site features a Celebrity Gallery featuring three wonderful artists with disabilities. Visitors to the web site are invited to contribute their own story or one about someone who would want to share their accomplishments and messages of success.
- The web site is fully accessible to people with disabilities.
- As of July 11, 2000, the public can apply for replacement Medicare Cards on SSA's Internet site.
- Applicants requesting a replacement card fill out the online form and send it electronically to SSA. It takes only a minute or two to complete.
- SSA uses the highest commercially available encryption to ensure that a beneficiary's
confidential information is secure as it travels over the Internet.
- Requests are forwarded each day to the Health Care Financing Administration, which processes the requests and mails the new card to beneficiaries.
- Since July 2000, more than 26,000 Medicare beneficiaries have used the service.
SSA Press Office 449
Altmeyer Bldg. 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973