Customer service is mostly dead. It’s probably housed in the Smithsonian along with the T-Rex and TV rabbit ears. As technology has progressed and Millennials have come of age, we have been pushed, sometimes kicking and screaming, to conduct personal business online.
The Social Security Administration is no exception. Call the SSA and you will hear, “Offices are open to provide limited in-person services by appointment only. We continue offering services by phone and online. You can find the Social Security Administration online at www.socialsecurity.gov.”
The number of Senior Citizens without computers is dwindling. More Americans entering their senior years have at least a modicum of computer know-how. And for all my ranting here, it’s certainly less frustrating conducting Social Security business online rather than spending eternity on hold before speaking to a live body.
There are lots of things you can take care of online with the SSA. But before you begin, you need to create a My Social Security Account. It’s the portal that allows you to conduct your SSA business. Setting up a My Social Security Account is also for your protection. Once it’s set up, no one else can create a My Social Security account using your Social Security number.
You can set up a My Social Security Account no matter your age. Then, with your account set up, you’re ready to access all the Social Security Services you can access online.
Apply for Social Security Benefits
Not surprising, you can apply online for the Social Security Benefits you’ve been contributing to all your working life. You can apply as early as age 62. Some workers wait until age 70 when incentives to wait run out. The online process takes approximately 15 minutes.
Check the Status of Your Application
You can check the status of your application to begin Social Security benefits. It will give you your re-entry number for the online application and the date the SSA received your application.
Request a Replacement Social Security Card
If you lose your Social Security card or it’s worn out from carrying all those years, you can request a new one at Replacement Card | SSA. Watch out for companies that offer to help you get a replacement card. They charge a fee for their help. Social Security does not charge a fee. The new card usually arrives within two weeks.
Apply for Medicare Benefits
This may sound a little crazy, but you apply for Medicare benefits on the Social Security website, not the Medicare site. Except in special circumstances, you apply when you turn 65, not at your Social Security Full Retirement Age. You have a 7-month window to apply called the Initial Enrollment Period which runs 3 months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and three months after the month you turn 65.
Request a Replacement Medicare Card
Replacing a Medicare card is also done in your My Social Security Account. Once logged in, select the “Replacement Documents.” Then choose “Mail my replacement Medicare card.” You can expect the new card in approximately 30 days.
Estimate your Social Security Benefits
This is helpful when you’re planning for retirement, no matter what your age. Your Social Security Statement will give you an estimate of how much you can expect if you retire at age 62, the earliest you’re eligible, at Full Retirement Age and age 70.
Review Your Earnings Record
You want the largest Social Security benefit possible when you retire, but if there’s a mistake on your earnings record, the mistake may cost you. You can check the numbers for ever year that FICA taxes have been withheld from your paycheck, but you have a limited amount of time to make corrections. According to the SSA, “An earnings record can be corrected at anytime up to three years, three months, and 15 days after the year in which the wages were paid or the self-employment income was derived.”
Change Address and Telephone Number
Updating address and phone number is as easy as logging in to your My Social Security account, click “My Profile”, click “Update Contact Information.” Then submit the changes.
Change Direct Deposit
Social Security checks are deposited directly into beneficiaries’ bank accounts. If you want to change direct deposit instructions, or if you’re one of the people who began receiving benefits before 2013 by paper check and want to set up direct deposit, those changes can also be made online.
Social Security Benefits Verification Letter
There are times you need to provide proof of your Social Security benefit. When that happens, you can print the Benefits Verification Letter directly from your My Social Security Account.
Print Your 1099
Tax time rolls around and you don’t want to wait for your 1099 to arrive by Snail Mail; you can print it directly your My Social Security Account.