By Elsa M. Housseas***
This time of year basketball fans are gearing up for March Madness — a time when the final four teams in the NCAA fight for the title of national champion. While basketball fans are excited about March Madness, Social Security already has a winning “final four” of online services to cheer about: the Retirement Estimator, Benefit Application, online Extra Help application, and Business Services Online.
1. The Retirement Estimator is an easy way to get an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefits. Just key in some basic information and the Estimator will use information on your Social Security record, along with what you input, to give you a benefit estimate on the spot. You even can experiment with different scenarios, such as changing your future earnings and retirement date. Check it out in English at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator or in Spanish at www.segurosocial.gov/calculador.
2. The Benefit Application is the most convenient way to apply for Social Security retirement benefits. You can apply from the comfort of your home — it’s fast, easy, and secure. It’s so easy, in fact, that it can take you as little as 15 minutes to apply online. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any further information is needed. Try it out when you’re ready to retire at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.
3. The online Extra Help application is an easy way to save about $4,000 a year on your prescription drug costs. To qualify for the Extra Help, you must be on Medicare, have limited income and resources, and live in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Learn more about it at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.
4. Business Services Online is our one-stop shop for small businesses. The site allows organizations and authorized individuals to conduct business with and submit confidential information to Social Security. You even can use it to file your W-2s the fast, convenient, and paperless way — online. Visit Business Services Online at www.socialsecurity.gov/bso.
In the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Social Security received the highest ratings in both the public and private sectors.
Get to know our final four, and all of our online services. When you do, you will be the winner.
**** Social Security District Manager Astoria NY