November 4, 2009

Your Social Security

ssaBy Christina Vital
Rock Island Social Security office


Natural disasters such as wildfires, tornados, or floods are forcing people in different parts of the country to leave their homes. The last thing a person who falls victim to this kind of devastation needs to worry about is how they’re going to get their next Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment. When you can’t afford to miss a check, then direct deposit is the safe way to go.

The good news for people who get their Social Security and SSI benefit payments by direct deposit is there won’t be anything to worry about. Even if you don’t fall victim to any disasters, direct deposit is still the best way to receive your benefit payments. Here’s why:

Direct deposit is safe. Your money is deposited directly into your account at your bank or financial institution. Because it’s transferred electronically, there’s never a risk of your check being lost or stolen.

Direct Deposit is quick. You’ll get your payment faster when it’s deposited directly into your bank. Your money is immediately available to you once it’s deposited into your account.

Direct Deposit is convenient. No more need to stand in line at the bank to cash your check, or to leave your house when there is a blizzard or other bad weather. It’s also nice to know your payment is safely in the bank instead of the mailbox when you’re on vacation or away from home.

When faced with a devastating event, there’s no question about where you’ll find your payment when it’s directly deposited into your bank. The same cannot be said for paper checks being mailed to mailboxes. Don’t risk missing your check.

To learn more about direct deposit of your benefit payments, and to sign up, visit our website at Spend time online, not in line! Another option is to just sign up for direct deposit at your bank. Most banks keep direct deposit sign up forms in their lobbies for your convenience. If you are changing your direct deposit from one bank to another, remember not to close the account at the old bank until your direct deposit begins arriving at the new one.

Whether the weather in your area is terrific or terrible, you can rest assured that your payments are safe and secure with direct deposit.


If you’ve recently moved to a new address, chances are some of your former neighbors and friends from the community asked you to be sure to keep in touch. If you receive Social Security benefits, we’d like you to keep in touch too. In fact, you need to let us know about your new address. Even if you receive your payments by direct deposit, Social Security needs your current mailing address so you can continue to receive important notices about changes in benefits.

Don’t worry; changing your address with Social Security can be as convenient and easy as logging on to your computer. Just go to and select the “What You Can Do Online” link in the top left corner. The fourth item down is “If you get benefits.” That’s where you’ll want to go. Then select “Change your address or telephone number.”

Once there, the web page will tell you exactly what you need to do to change your address with Social Security. You’ll need to provide your new address, including your postal ZIP code. (If you don’t know your ZIP code, the page includes a directory where you can locate it easily by entering your street address.)

If more than one person receives benefits at an address (such as a husband and wife), each person has to make the address change.

If you have a password with Social Security, that is all the information you will need to provide. But remember: you don’t need a password to change your address or phone number. You just have to prove to Social Security who you are by providing certain identifying information.

It’s that easy. Once your address is changed, you know you’ll continue to receive important notices from Social Security when needed, such as letters telling you about changes in benefit amounts.

While you’re on our website, you may want to check out some of the other things you can do online, such as changing direct deposit information, getting a proof of income letter, or requesting a replacement Medicare card.

Visit to learn all there is to know about Social Security. Spend time online, not in line!


A football team is more successful with proper planning and practice, along with good coaching. The same is true for a successful retirement – except that you are the quarterback and you also call the plays — for example, when to retire and how much to save.

The most talented quarterback can’t rack up a Super Bowl winning performance without good coaching and a playbook. The Social Security Administration understands that the same is true when it comes to financial planning for retirement. While you will have to call your own financial plays, we can help you decide what ‘play options’ might be most
successful in any given situation.

For example, how much can you expect to get from Social Security? How much more could you get if you worked a year longer or retired a year sooner? Two years? What about your spouse, if you are married? Have you set up a pension for yourself by investing properly, in addition to any that your employer might provide? And how much should you be saving for retirement in addition to your expected Social Security benefits?

All of these questions can be answered simply by visiting our Social Security website at It’s like a training camp for financial planning. There you will find numerous financial planning tools, including our new, easy-to-use Retirement Estimator. You can use it to get quick retirement estimates based upon your own earnings record. The Retirement Estimator will create Social Security benefit estimates, based on your entire career earnings record.

The Estimator shows what you would receive in Social Security benefits if you retired at age 62 or various other ages. Interested in other play options, such as what would happen if you made more money covered by Social Security taxes in the future? Or if you want to stop work at a different age than the three options we show you? You can try out alternate game plans using the screens on the Retirement Estimator page, in case you change your mind about your initial retirement plans. It’s a great financial planning tool.

Remember what one of football’s most accomplished and respected coaches, Vince Lombardi, said:  “There’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything.”

So give everything you have to developing the playbook for your retirement. And the best place to begin your game plan for a successful retirement is at


The open season for enrollment in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program gives Medicare beneficiaries freedom of choice in their coverage. Newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries, and current beneficiaries who are considering changes to their Medicare Part D plan, should mark their calendars for November 15. The “open season” will run from November 15 to December 31 each year.

The Medicare Part D prescription drug program is available to all Medicare beneficiaries to help with the costs of medications. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage. You can switch from one plan to another during this open season.

While all Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the prescription drug program, some people with limited income and resources also are eligible for extra help to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. In 2009 the extra help is worth an average of $3900!

To figure out whether you are eligible for the extra help, the Social Security Administration needs to know your income and the value of any savings, investments and real estate (other than the home you live in). You still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. You might even qualify for the prescription drug coverage without paying any monthly premiums.

You can complete an easy-to-use extra help online application for yourself or someone you care about at Click on Medicare on the top right side of the page. Then click on “Apply for help with prescription drug costs.” To apply for the extra help by phone or have an application mailed to you, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020). Or go to your nearest Social Security office and ask about the extra help for Medicare prescription drug coverage.

And if you would like more information about the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program itself, visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).