Basketball fans are gearing up for March Madness, which will culminate when the final four teams in the NCAA fight for the title of national champion. Fans wait in eager anticipation to see whether their favorite team or alma mater will be included in the “final four.” While basketball fans are excited about March Madness, Social Security already has its own winning “final four” to help you this season.
Now, let’s turn to the action!
1. The online services you can put into play with a my Social Security account are like free-throws. They’re quick and easier than muscling your way to the basket (or field office). My Social Security is an online account that allows you quick and secure access to your personal Social Security information. During your working years, once you create your online account, you can use my Social Security to obtain a copy of your Social Security Statement; verify your earnings record; and see estimates of the future retirement, disability, and survivor benefits you and your family may receive.
If you already receive Social Security benefits, you can sign into your account to view, save, and print your benefit verification letter; check your benefit payment information; request a replacement Medicare card; get a replacement SSA-1099/1042S for tax season; and even change your address and phone number in our records. You can also start or change your direct deposit information. In some states and the District of Columbia, you may also be able to request a replacement Social Security card online. Check it out at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
2. One of the most important fouls you might want to avoid is not signing up for Medicare Part B. Enrollment begins January 1 and ends March 31. Medicare Part B covers two types of services: medically necessary services — services or supplies that are needed to diagnose or treat your medical condition and that meet accepted standards of medical practices. Medicare Part B also covers preventive services — healthcare to prevent illness (like the flu) or detect it at an early stage when treatment is most likely to work best. You can avoid that foul (as well as the penalty you must pay for not signing up during the enrollment period) and sign up for Medicare Part B when you turn 65 at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare.
3. From a quick pass aimed at a well-positioned three-point shooter to an alley-oop that ends in a game-winning score, assists are one of the main ways a team wins. Two of the primary ways we assist people are with disability benefits and survivors benefits. Disability is something most people don’t like to think about, but the chances that you’ll become disabled are probably greater than you realize. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age. The loss of a key family wage earner is another event that can be devastating both emotionally and financially. You can learn more about how we assist millions of people each year at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi and www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.
4. A winning retirement plan is your slam dunk. At www.socialsecurity.gov/retire you’ll find retirement planners, ways to estimate your potential benefits and your full retirement age, as well as other helpful resources. When you are ready to retire, apply for benefits online in as little as 15 minutes. At www.socialsecurity.gov, you’ll be hitting slam dunk after slam dunk and ensure your championship retirement.
As you can see, there’s no need for excess madness this March if you use our “final four.” Social Security is on your team and we’re here when you need us.
Marcus Geiger is Social Security district manager in Gallipolis, Ohio