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Saturday, Nov 18, 2017
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Direct deposit keeps Social Security money safe

Q What are the benefits of using direct deposit or electronic payments? A It's safe, secure, convenient, your checks will not get lost in the mail, you choose the account where your payment is deposited; and you will get your benefits on time, even if you're out of town or unable to get to the bank. With few exceptions, nowadays, if you sign up for benefits, you must get your payments electronically. And if you are getting paper checks, you had switch to electronic payments by March 1. If you don't have a bank account, you can use the Direct Express prepaid debit card to get Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments deposited directly into your account. Go to www.godirect.org. Q I'm 65, not ready to retire, but I want to apply for my Medicare coverage. How can I do that?
A The easiest and most convenient way is to apply online. Use the online application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you're done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. Otherwise you'll receive your Medicare card in the mail. It's convenient, quick and easy. There's no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. Get started today at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly. Q I'm trying to figure out how much I need to save for my retirement. Does the government offer any help with financial education? A Yes. For starters, you may want to find out what you can expect from Social Security with a visit to Social Security's Retirement Estimator at ww.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. The Financial Literacy and Education Commission has a website that can key you in on the basics of financial education: www.mymoney.gov. Finally, you'll want to check out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which offers educational information on a number of financial matters, including mortgages, credit cards, retirement and other big decisions. Visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at www.consumerfinance.gov. Q I need to get something from Social Security to verify my income. How can I do that? A The agency provides three types of income proof: a Benefit Verification Letter shows your monthly benefit amount. You can get your Benefit Verification Letter online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. It often is used as official proof of income to apply for a loan, give to a landlord, obtain housing assistance, or other state or local benefits, verify Medicare coverage or verify retirement status, disability, or age. An SSA-1099 shows your annual income for income tax purposes. We mail the SSA-1099 by Jan. 31 each year. You can request an SSA-1099 online, or you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit a local office. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov to locate the office nearest you. An annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) notice is sent to all beneficiaries at the end of each year providing the amount of the monthly benefit for the following year.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213.

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