July 5, 2010

Your Social Security


By Christina Vital
Rock Island Social Security office


There’s good news for Americans who want help getting a handle on their finances. The official government website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics of financial education, www.mymoney.gov, is now loaded with more information and is even easier to use. The new site has enhanced interactive features and provides more resources to Americans seeking information that can help with their personal financial decisions.
The new www.mymoney.gov website creates an online point of access to financial information from the 21 federal agencies, departments, and bureaus — including Social Security — that comprise the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. Visitors to the site can find information about how to plan, financially, for a host of life events, such as the birth or adoption of a child, home ownership, or retirement. Users also can find information targeted to their personal or professional situation. For instance, the site offers resources for teachers, military service members, women, parents, youth, and employers. The site also provides money management tools including a financial savings calculator, worksheets for establishing a household budget, and a college preparation checklist. The site also is available in Spanish. The effort to make the website as helpful and useful to Americans will be ongoing, with improvements expected to continue.

In addition to being a member of the commission responsible for this site, Social Security offers other ways to help you with your finances. For example, you can use the online Retirement Estimator to get a personalized, instant estimate of what your future retirement benefits will be in different situations. The estimator is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Learn more about Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov.

For more about the basics of financial education, whether you’re buying a house or balancing your checkbook, visit www.mymoney.gov.


President Obama has called for greater transparency in government. In response, Social Security has released its Open Government plan, which you can read online at www.socialsecurity.gov/open.

The plan reflects Social Security’s commitment to expand opportunities for citizen participation and collaboration, and make open government more sustainable at Social Security. The agency is particularly proud of three flagship initiatives: a Spanish-Language Retirement Estimator, an Online Service Enhancement Initiative, and an Online Life-Expectancy Calculator. These three initiatives support the agency’s mission, goals, and objectives, and showcase the value of open government principles. “I applaud President Obama’s commitment to opening the federal government to the people it serves and I am especially proud of the three flagship initiatives we have chosen to implement by the end of this year,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security.

Social Security’s Spanish-language Retirement Estimator will be the federal government’s first non-English interactive Internet application — a tool that furthers transparency by offering the Spanish-speaking public an opportunity to get instant, personalized estimates of future retirement benefits. Last year, more than three million people used the English-language version of this popular online service available at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

As part of its Online Service Enhancement initiative, Social Security will unveil a new service-channeling tool that will help people more easily find the information and services they seek on the agency’s website, www.socialsecurity.gov. A key feature will be the opportunity to go online to schedule an in-office appointment for those who are unable to use our online services to conduct all of their business.

The agency also is developing an Online Life-Expectancy Calculator — a simple, but important tool to assist the public with retirement planning. Many people substantially underestimate their life expectancy. This new online service will add a measure of accuracy to retirement planning by providing average life expectancies at different ages based on the person’s gender and date of birth, and drawing on assumptions provided in the annual Social Security Trustees’ report.

“I look forward to continuing to translate the values of open government into lasting improvements in the way the agency makes decisions, solves problems, and addresses its challenges,” said Commissioner Astrue. “Social Security’s flagship initiatives will improve our services and further break down barriers between the American people and their government.”

We encourage you to read Social Security’s Open Government plan at www.socialsecurity.gov/open.


It seems that these days everyone is on Facebook. It’s hard to believe that as recently as 2006, Facebook didn’t even exist. Now, even if you don’t have a Facebook account of your own, you’re almost certainly “connected” to someone who does. If you are a part of this social network phenomenon, we’d like to have you connect with us! Facebook is a great way to stay informed about Social Security and what it means to you.

With more than 400 million active users worldwide, Facebook was ranked as the most-used social network website in the world according to a 2009 study. What better place than Facebook to join Social Security’s network and stay in the know?
In addition to a Facebook page, Social Security also has started “tweeting.” If you’re not connected to us on Facebook (or even if you are), be sure to follow Social Security on Twitter. Social Security news and information is presented in easily digestible, 140-character bits!

Coincidently, Twitter found its beginnings in 2006 as well. It was ranked as the third most popular social networking website in 2009 and boasts six million unique monthly visitors and 55 million visits a month.

Whether you’re a fan of Facebook or you tend toward Twitter, we hope these electronic avenues will help us reach more people who can benefit from our online information and services.

To follow us on Facebook, go to www.facebook.com/socialsecurity and click “like.”

To follow us on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/socialsecurity and select “Follow Social Security” to receive our messages.

Or, visit www.socialsecurity.gov and look for the Facebook and Twitter icons. While you’re there, take a look at the icon that links to our YouTube page where you can watch Social Security videos, including public service announcements featuring rock and roll icon Chubby Checker and academy award winning actress Patty Duke.


With age comes wisdom.

Clearly, there is a lot of knowledge and experiences that grandparents can pass along to their children and grandchildren. But there’s one place where young people can teach grandma and grandpa a thing or two: online.
Show your grandparents how they can use www.socialsecurity.gov to avoid unneeded trips to a Social Security office. Take them to the online Retirement Estimator, a tool that helps them figure out how much they may get in monthly benefits depending on when they retire. It’s available at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

You also can show them our library of online publications containing all the information they need to know on an array of Social Security, retirement, and Medicare subjects. The publications can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/index.html. If they were thinking about retirement, you may want to show them just how knowledgeable you are by suggesting they read the publication When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10147.html.

Now you’ve done it! You’ve been so helpful that they’ve decided they’re ready to retire right away. When they grab their hats and try to drag you to the local Social Security office, remind them that all they have to do is drag the mouse across the mouse pad. Take them to www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline, where they can apply online for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes — that may be less time that it would have taken to lock the front door and start up the car. Once they click the
“submit” button, they’re done. (And so are you.)

While you’re online with them, here’s an excuse to visit Facebook and Twitter. Show them how to follow Social Security on both! The icons are right on our main page, www.socialsecurity.gov.

So many of the things grandparents (and even parents) may want to do at a Social Security office can be done online these days. See for yourself. Even better, help someone less web-savvy than you check it out Social Security online.