July 29, 2013

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY Davenport, Iowa Office

By Linda Clayton-Powell
Social Security District Manager
Davenport, Iowa


Who is on first base? You are, when the time comes to do business with Social Security. We always place customer
service first and strive to hit a home run with every person we serve.

What is on second? Our heavy-hitting team of top-rated online services, that is what! For example, you can use my Social Security to set up an account and get access to your Social Security Statement to see estimates of your future benefits. If you know your bases are loaded, and you are ready to retire, you can hit the ball out of the park with our online retirement application. You will find it all at www.socialsecurity.gov.

And third base? I do not know. It is hard to know when the right time to retire may be. Or, whether retirement planning will even be your first play with Social Security, given that we also pitch disability and survivors benefits. The future may be as unpredictable as a World Series winner on opening day. However, what we do know is that our online tools and services can help you plan for whatever your Social Security needs may be throughout your lifetime.

The tried and true “Who’s On First” comedy routine made famous by Abbott and Costello is as American as baseball, apple pie, and Social Security.

Baseball is an annual rite of summer and a game known for its numbers: Cal Ripken’s record 2,632 consecutive games played or Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. These and countless other baseball statistics tell stories greater than the numbers themselves. Mention any one of these to a baseball fan and you are sure to call to mind memories and stories.

Social Security’s numbers tell stories, too. The first lump sum Social Security payment of 17 cents was made to Ernest Ackerman in 1937. The first monthly Social Security check of $22.54 went to Ida May Fuller in January of 1940. This year, about 58 million Americans will receive $821 billion in Social Security benefits. The average monthly benefit for a retired worker in 2013 is $1,262.

An estimated 161 million workers are covered under Social Security — that is 94 percent of the workforce. Of those, 51 percent of workers have no private pension coverage and 34 percent have no savings set aside specifically for retirement. These and other numbers make it easy to appreciate the value of Social Security.

Nine out of 10 Americans age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits. In addition, among the unmarried, 46 percent rely on Social Security benefits for 90 percent or more of their income.

Retirement benefits are just one of the many benefits Social Security provides. Disabled workers and their dependents account for 19 percent of the total benefits paid, while survivor’s benefits account for 11 percent. One in four of today’s 20-year olds will become disabled before reaching age 67, and the majority of these workers have no long-term disability insurance besides their Social Security coverage. About one in eight of today’s 20-year olds will die before reaching age 67. The dependent families of these deceased workers are often eligible for survivor’s benefits.

Who’s on first is you. What is on second is our suite of useful tools and information on all of our benefits, which you can find at www.socialsecurity.gov. And third? We may not know, but in baseball and life, statistics can tell us the odds. Knowing these numbers and visiting Social Security’s website for a little retirement and financial planning can help you know when to swing away at retirement. Learn more about Social Security by visitingwww.socialsecurity.gov.


Social Security can be an important financial asset for married couples when the time comes to apply for retirement benefits. In many cases, one spouse may have earned significantly more than the other, or have worked for a longer span of years. Alternatively, it could be that one spouse stayed home to do the work of raising the children or caring for elderly family members while the other focused on a career.

Regardless of your situation, Social Security will look at all possibilities to make sure both spouses receive the maximum benefit possible.

Even if you have not paid Social Security taxes, it is likely you will be eligible to receive benefits on your spouse’s record. If you did work and pay into Social Security, we will check eligibility based on your work record and your spouse to see which amount is higher.

You can apply for spouse’s benefits the same way that you apply for benefits on your own record. You can apply for
reduced benefits as early as age 62, or for 100 percent of your full retirement benefits at your “full retirement age.” You can find your full retirement age, based on your birth year, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ageincrease.htm.

The benefit amount you can receive as a spouse, if you have reached your full retirement age, can be as much as one-half of your spouse’s full benefit. If you opt for early retirement, your benefit may be as little as a third of your spouse’s full benefit amount.

If your spouse has already reached full retirement age but continues to work, your spouse can apply for retirement benefits and request to have the payments suspended until as late as age 70. This would allow the worker to earn delayed retirement credits that will mean higher payments later, but would allow you to receive your spouse’s benefit.

You can also apply for spouse benefits based on the earnings record of an ex-spouse or deceased spouse if you were married for at least 10 years. Spouses can consider a number of options and variables. We make it easier to navigate them. A good place to start is by visiting our benefits planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners. Take note of the “Benefits as a Spouse” section.

If you are ready to apply for benefits, the fastest, easiest, and most convenient way is to apply online! You can do so at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.

Whether you receive benefits on a spouse’s record or your own, rest assured we will make sure you get the highest benefit we can pay you. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov.