Forget going to the social security office. Much of what used to be done in person can now be done on the web. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
If you've been working for years, chances are you've received a yearly social security statement, detailing how much you've earned and how much you can expect to collect when you retire. However, last year, the administration decided it was time to retire this annual tradition.
"Due to budget constraints, we are no longer sending those statements in the mail," says Shauntel Greene-Bass, a public affairs specialist with the Social Security Administration.
But that doesn't mean the information isn't available. Rather than give you a peek once a year, statements are now available online 24/7 as part of My Social Security.
"This is unprecedented," Greene-Bass says. "This is the first time that they're able to have access, view, print and save a copy of their security earning statement."
Whether retirement is three years away or 30, the document contains information that is vital to your long-term planning.
"You are able to see what your benefit will be with a permanent reduction at age 62, what your full or unreduced benefit will be," Greene-Bass says. "Or, you can even take advantage of these wonderful delayed retirement credits up until age 70."
Seeing the difference on paper can make all the difference in terms of your plans. In this example, the worker could expect to collect almost $1,000 more per month by retiring at 70 rather than 62. The document also has information about survivor benefits and disability payments.
When the time does come for you to start collecting, skip the trip to your local office and pull up to your computer instead.
Greene-Bass says the online application process takes about 15 minutes and doesn't even have to be done all at once.
"We'll ask you a simple series of questions regarding yourself and your work, and we will also assign you an application re-entry number," Greene-Bass says. "This is really important because, again, it's that convenience factor. You are able to complete your retirement application when it's more convenient for you."
Of course, the usual means of service are still available, but officials say you'll save yourself a lot of time waiting in line or on hold by using the website.
For more information, visit socialsecurity.gov.