This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current policies or procedures.

Social Security Online
Social Security Update
November 2009
In This Issue:

Even on Holidays, Social Security is Here

Best Online Service in Government Just Got Better

Patty Duke and Dr. Kessler Offer Flu Advice

Compassionate Allowances Hearing on Schizophrenia

Another Reason for Medicare Beneficiaries to be Thankful

Deck the Halls, Hold the Calls

Even on Holidays, Social Security is Here

Even on Holidays, Social Security is HereIf you have clients who need to conduct business with Social Security over the holiday season, let them know our online services are available even on holidays. That means they can handle their holiday shopping and planning with one less time constraint — and one less “shopping line.”
Some of the services available online at www.socialsecurity.gov include:

  • Applying for retirement or disability benefits;
  • Checking the status of your pending application;
  • Getting an instant, personalized estimate of your future retirement benefits using the Retirement Estimator; and
  • Applying for Extra Help for Medicare prescription drug plan costs available to some beneficiaries.

Social Security’s online services are available every day — including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  You can find a list of online services and their hours of operation at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices

Banks and other offices may be closed on the holidays,  but you can visit Social Security online, at your convenience, at www.socialsecurity.gov.


Best Online Service in Government Just Got Better

Estimate your retirement benefits!Enhancements to Social Security’s Online Retirement Estimator allow more people than ever before to get an instant and personalized estimate of future Social Security retirement benefits.

Previously, people who had not yet filed for monthly Social Security benefits but who were already enrolled in Medicare were not able to take advantage of the service.  Now they can.

Already, the Retirement Estimator is the most highly rated online service in government with a consumer satisfaction rating of 91 percent.  It’s followed closely by Social Security’s online retirement application, with a 90 percent approval rating, and the Medicare Extra Help application, with an 87 percent rating.  These three Social Security services are the top three online services in government, according to the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator for a personalized estimate of future retirement benefits.

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Patty Duke and Dr. Kessler Offer Flu Advice

Patty Duke and Dr. Kessler Offer Flu AdviceAcademy Award winner Patty Duke and the former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, David Kessler, M.D., have teamed with Social Security to launch a flu prevention public service campaign.  Here are some of their tips:

    • cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and encourage those around you to do the same;
    • wash your hands often with soap and water;
    • get a flu shot; and
    • go online.

That’s right — Ms. Duke and Dr. Kessler encourage anyone who needs service from Social Security to visit our online office at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Encourage your clients to do their part to stop the spread.  View the new public service announcement now at www.socialsecurity.gov.  It’s just what the doctor and Ms. Duke ordered.

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Compassionate Allowances Hearing on Schizophrenia

This month, representatives from Social Security and the National Institutes of Health held a day-long Compassionate Allowance Outreach Hearing on schizophrenia in San Francisco, Calif.  Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, hosted this hearing, the fifth in a series of ongoing Compassionate Allowance hearings.

Some of the nation’s leading experts on schizophrenia provided testimony on identifying and putting into effect Compassionate Allowances for people with the condition. 

In October 2007, Social Security launched Compassionate Allowances to expedite disability applications for people with medical conditions so severe that their conditions meet Social Security's standards.  Applicants with severe disabilities can be approved for Social Security disability benefits in a matter of days rather than months or years.
To learn more about Compassionate Allowances and to view a web cast of the recent hearing, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

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Another Reason for Medicare Beneficiaries to be Thankful

Another Reason for Medicare Beneficiaries to be ThankfulIt’s now open season for enrollment in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.  People who are newly eligible for Medicare as well as current beneficiaries who are considering changes to their Medicare Part D plan, can make their changes between now and December 31.

Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage. It’s available to all Medicare beneficiaries and can help with the cost of prescription medication. 

Some Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources can get extra help to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments.  The extra help, available through Social Security, is worth an average of $3,900 per year. 

Starting January 1, 2010, changes in the law make it easier for some people to qualify for the extra help.  Under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act Social Security:

  • Will no longer count as a resource any life insurance policy; and
  • Will no longer count as income the help you receive regularly from someone else to pay your household expenses — food, mortgage, rent, heating fuel or gas, electricity, water, and property taxes.

Learn more by reading our electronic fact sheet, Changes in the Law Could Make More People Eligible for Extra Help in 2010, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10040.html.

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Deck the Halls, Hold the Calls

Deck the Halls, Hold the CallsFor years, Social Security has told the public that the busiest time for our field offices and for our toll free telephone number is early in the week and early in the month, so it's best to contact us at other times.

The same advice applies to the holiday time, especially the period between Christmas Eve and New Year's. So if you or your clients must do business with Social Security during the holidays, we suggest you consider going online to www.socialsecurity.gov where we have a wealth of information and online services available.

But when someone does need to talk to a customer service representative Social Security is available at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).


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