July 5, 2011

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY Davenport, Iowa Office

By Karen Cole
Social Security District Manager
Davenport, Iowa


In February 2011, Jeopardy! broadcast its first competition that pit man against machine. Watson, an artificial intelligence computer system developed by IBM, competed against the show’s two most successful champions: Ken Jennings (longest winning streak) and Brad Rutter (biggest money winner). Watson won, with the help of a four-terabyte memory that included 200 million pages of encyclopedias — including the full text of Wikipedia. We at Social Security have known for some time that computers can help people. As a result, we developed and now have some of the best online services in the world. Time and time again, Social Security’s online services are at the top of customer satisfaction surveys. So here’s a Jeopardy! answer of our own: “You can conduct these online services at www.socialsecurity.gov.” What is the question?

• What is “get an instant, personalized estimate of future benefits with the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator”?
• What is “apply for Social Security retirement, spouse’s, Medicare, or disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline”?
• What is “apply for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp”?
• What is “request a replacement Medicare card at www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/links_medicare.htm”?
All of the above are acceptable answers.

Computers are capable of making our lives much easier. In fact, you might say that using our online services makes doing business with Social Security … elementary, dear Watson.
See for yourself at www.socialsecurity.gov.


Americans have been explorers long before we declared our independence on July 4, 1776.

Colonists were brave enough to venture across the seas to settle in the unknown frontier of the New World. From there, westward expansion eventually took them from the east coast to the west. Then came the space race, and imagined places to explore. Shows like Star Trek called space the final frontier. But we’ve since found new frontiers, such as cyberspace. If you’ve used Social Security’s website, then you know that cyberspace is no longer a strange, uncharted territory. Social Security’s online services are so easy to navigate, even Kirk could use them (as Patty Duke tells George Takei in one of our new public service announcements – check them out at www.socialsecurity.gov/boldlygo).

What are some of the things you can do easily at www.socialsecurity.gov?

• Use our Retirement Estimator to get an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security retirement benefits. www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator
• Visit our Benefits Planner, where you can get
started right away planning for a secure retirement. You also can go here to use the disability and
survivors planners to find out how much you or your family might qualify for if the need arises. www.socialsecurity.gov/planners
• Retire online! You can complete and submit your retirement application in as little as 15 minutes. www.socialsecurity.gov/retireonline
• Apply online for disability benefits. www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability

There’s even more you can do at www.socialsecurity.gov. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore, look around our home page, read some of our publications, and take advantage of our most popular services at the left side of the screen. You even can chart a course for our frequently asked questions.

It wasn’t fireworks and parades that made America what it is today. It was our adventurous spirit, our desire to explore new places. We encourage you to explore the final frontier for your Social Security business at www.socialsecurity.gov.


It’s been three years since Social Security’s Retirement Estimator went online. Within months of coming out, the online application was praised as one of the highest-rated online services around, and it has consistently remained so every year. Now that Social Security’s most popular online application is available in Spanish at www.segurosocial.gov/calculador, even more people can use the Retirement Estimator. The Retirement Estimator is a convenient, secure, and quick financial planning tool that lets workers calculate how much they might expect to receive in Social Security benefits when they retire. The attractive feature of this calculator is that it uses your earnings information on file at Social Security, without displaying your personal information. So you get an instant, personalized estimate of your future retirement benefits.

The Estimator even gives you the opportunity to run different scenarios and “what if” situations. For example, you can change the date you expect to retire or change expected future earnings to create and compare different retirement options. This can help you as you plan ahead.

To use the Retirement Estimator, you must have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits and you cannot be receiving benefits currently. Experience the best online service now by visiting Social Security’s Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. Then, once you’ve sketched out your retirement plans, you’ll know where to go when the time comes to apply for benefits: online at www.socialsecurity.gov.