January 3, 2012

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY Davenport, Iowa Office

By Karen Cole
Social Security District Manager
Davenport, Iowa


January 16 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — a national holiday. To some, the day means more than an observance of the birthday of the civil rights leader. It is also a day to be of service to others. The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.

A great way to be of service to others is to help someone you know who may need assistance applying for Social Security, Medicare, or Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. Each of these is easy to do at www.socialsecurity.gov. Some people who need these benefits may not be comfortable with computers or may not even know applying online is an option. But now it’s easier than ever to apply for such benefits from the convenience of a home computer at www.socialsecurity.gov.

For example, it’s easy to apply for retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. It can take as little as 15
minutes from start to finish, and once the application is electronically submitted, in most cases, there is nothing more to do. It’s even easier to apply for Medicare, for people who do not plan to begin their Social Security retirement payments yet but who do want Medicare coverage. The application takes about 10 minutes and can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly. People who already have Medicare coverage, but who have trouble meeting prescription drug costs, can apply for Extra Help online at www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.

This holiday, you may want to make a trip to see the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington D.C. or listen to a recording of a memorable speech. You can also make your Martin Luther King Day a day of service to someone who can use your help. Lead them to www.socialsecurity.gov. It may be easy for you, but it may be a dream come true for the person you help.


We have good news for tens of millions of Spanish-speaking Americans. For years, Social Security has been at the forefront of providing online services for Americans, and we’ve provided a wealth of information in Spanish. Now, you can do even more with the expanded suite of services offered in Spanish at www.segurosocial.gov.

The most exciting enhancement: you can now apply online for both Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare in Spanish!

If you are ready to apply for Social Security retirement benefits now, you can do it quickly and easily on your home or office computer. The online application takes as little as 15 minutes. Once you complete the online application and “sign” it with the click of a mouse, your application is complete. In most cases there are no documents to submit or additional paperwork to fill out. Online is the easiest way to apply, and now you can do it in Spanish.

In addition to applying for Social Security retirement benefits, you can also go to www.segurosocial.gov to apply for Medicare. How’s this for convenient and easy: it can be done in as little as 10 minutes, from start to finish.

But you can do more than apply for benefits at www.segurosocial.gov. You can get a lot of information and publications written in Spanish. In addition, there are a number of online transactions that allow you to complete your Social Security business online, and in the language you’re most comfortable using. One of the most popular of all is our Retirement Estimator.

Get an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefits using the Retirement Estimator. Using the actual wages posted in your Social Security record, the Estimator will give you a good picture of what to expect in benefits. It protects your personal information by providing only retirement benefit estimates — it does not show the earnings information used to calculate the benefit estimate, nor does it reveal other identifying information. You can plug in different scenarios and future wage amounts to get estimates for different situations.

If you are already entitled to Medicare and are having trouble with the high cost of prescription drug costs, you might qualify for Extra Help from Social Security. The Extra Help can save you as much as $4,000 each year. You can learn all about it and apply online for the Extra Help at www.segurosocial.gov too.

Do you need a little help getting started on the computer? Ask your children or grandchildren to help you. Chances are they would be happy to spend a few minutes helping you.

If you prefer to do business online in Spanish, then our website is the place for you. Visit www.segurosocial.gov today. It’s so easy!

Patty Duke Turns 65, Applies Online for Social Security and Medicare benefits

After years of telling people they can apply online for Social Security in their pajamas, Patty Duke has taken her own advice. Duke, who recently turned 65, applied online for retirement and Medicare benefits from home at www.socialsecurity.gov.

“I had no idea this would be such a momentous occasion,” said Duke, who for three years has volunteered her time promoting Social Security’s online services in numerous Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and media interviews. In a new online video, Duke puts character acting aside and shows everyone what happened when she and her husband Mike Pearce sat down at the kitchen table, turned on their laptop, and applied for her retirement and Medicare benefits.

“All of us at Social Security wished Patty a very happy birthday,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “She’s a Hollywood legend and an American treasure who has reached a very important milestone. True to form, she is the one giving us the birthday present by showing her fellow baby boomers the easiest way to apply for benefits.”

In 2009, Duke reprised her roles as the identical cousins, Patty and Cathy Lane from the Patty Duke Show, for a series of PSAs promoting Social Security’s online services. In 2010, Duke teamed up with the surviving Patty Duke Show cast members for an additional set of spots. Earlier this year, she teamed up with entertainment icon George Takei to encourage people of all ages to “Boldly Go” to www.socialsecurity.gov. In the three years since Duke has volunteered her time with Social Security, millions of people have visited the agency’s website and the percentage of online retirements has more than doubled.

“While I just applied for retirement benefits, I’m not retiring from being a Social Security spokesperson,” Duke says. “I urge my fellow baby boomers to go online to www.socialsecurity.gov. If you’re not sure how to get started on the computer, ask a loved one to help you out. I did, and it was so easy.”