Social Security: 5 Things You May Not Know You Can Do Online

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The Social Security Administration wants to spread the word that you can handle a number of tasks on its website — and avoid having to call the agency or visit it in person, where you are likely to run into long waits and a mountain of frustration.

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The SSA even has a page, located here, dedicated to online services that details everything you can do. It reminds Social Security beneficiaries that the agency is “constantly expanding our online services to give you freedom and control when conducting business with Social Security.”

These days, you can do everything from apply for retirement benefits to get a replacement card online. Your first step should be to set up a free my Social Security account. Once that’s done, here are five things you might not have known you can do online:

Review Your Earnings History

You can get your Social Security earnings statement by using your personal my Social Security account. The statement shows your earnings history and gives you secure access to estimates for retirement, disability and survivors benefits you and your family might be eligible for.

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Apply for Medicare Benefits

If you are within three months of turning age 65 or are older but are not ready to start your monthly Social Security benefits yet, you can use the SSA’s online retirement application to sign up just for Medicare and wait to apply for retirement or spousal benefits later. The process takes less than 10 minutes and involves no signed forms or other documentation.

Set Up or Change Direct Deposit Information

One of the newer SSA online services is the ability to set up or change your direct deposit information. If you already receive Social Security benefits and have a bank account, you just need to log in to your my Social Security account.

Get Proof of Benefits

If you need proof of your Social Security benefits, you can get a Benefit Verification letter by logging into my Social Security. The letter serves as proof that you get retirement, disability, Supplemental Security Income or Medicare benefits. You can use it for loan, housing assistance, mortgage and other income verification purposes.

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Appeal a Decision

If the SSA recently denied your claim for retirement benefits, disability benefits, SSI or a nonmedical related issue, you can appeal the decision online by downloading the forms here. You typically have 60 days after you receive the notice of the SSA decision to ask for any type of appeal. There are four levels of appeal:

  • Reconsideration
  • Hearing by an administrative law judge
  • Review by the Appeals Council
  • Federal Court review

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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