January 3, 2011


By Karen Cole
Social Security District Manager
Davenport, Iowa


It’s that time of year: out with the old and in with the new. You may be thinking about your list of New Year’s resolutions for 2011. There are many important things to consider. May we suggest a few? Each of these will take only a matter of minutes.

1. Get an estimate of your future Social Security benefit. In just a few minutes, you can have an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefit. Our online Retirement Estimator gives estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

2. Read your mail. Be especially careful about looking at mail that arrives from Social Security. About two to three months before your birthday, you should receive your annual Social Security Statement, a concise, easy-to-read personal record of the earnings on which you have paid Social Security taxes during your working years and a summary of the estimated benefits you and your family may receive in retirement, survivors or disability benefits as a result of those earnings.

3. Visit the ballpark. Not that one; the Ballpark Estimator. It will help you do a better job of saving for your future. No matter how much you earn, it’s a good idea to try to save. Check out the Ballpark Estimator for a projection of how much you should save for a comfortable retirement at www.choosetosave.org/ballpark.

Happy New Year from Social Security. Feel free to visit us anytime at www.socialsecurity.gov.


Social Security is the nation’s most successful domestic program. It’s easy to look back at what a difference it has made over the past 75 years. And 2010, our diamond anniversary year, has been full of accomplishments.

We launched an important new service in 2010: the online Medicare application. It allows people reaching age 65 who opt to delay receiving retirement benefits to apply for Medicare coverage from their computer in as little as 10 minutes. We reunited the original cast of The Patty Duke Show to promote the new application. Go to the Medicare application at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly.

Speaking of Medicare, a “twist” in the law makes it easier for more people to qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs because some things no longer count as income and resources. Chubby Checker, who made “The Twist” popular, helped make the announcement. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

We strove to speed up the disability process to help people with the most severe disabilities get their benefits faster. Learn more at the Hearings and Appeals website: www.socialsecurity.gov/appeals.

At Social Security, customer service satisfaction remains high. The agency took the three top spots for customer service in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Social Security employees are satisfied too. Employees rate Social Security as one of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government according to The Partnership for Public Service and American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation.

The agency made new data available to the general public, supporting the President’s Transparency and Open Government initiative. In February, the agency launched an Open Government website at www.socialsecurity.gov/open and in April Social Security used that website to showcase the agency’s Open Government Plan.

The 75th anniversary of Social Security has been an exciting year, and not only because we reflect back on a long history — but because we have many great things going on right now.