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By Christine Benz | 01-18-2013 12:00 PM

Helpful Tools for Managing Your Social Security

Individuals looking to better understand their Social Security benefits can turn to the ssa.gov website, which offers many new resources regarding anticipated benefits, retirement estimates, life expectancy, and more.

Christine Benz: Hi, I'm Christine Benz for Morningstar.com. Making good decisions about Social Security involves getting your arms around a lot of different factors. Joining me to discuss some tools on the Social Security Administration's website is Doug Nguyen from the Social Security Administration.

Doug, thank you so much for being here.

Doug Nguyen: Well, thank you for having us, Christine.

Benz: Let's start, when we are looking at the ssa.gov website. When I go on to this site, I'm asked to create an account. Why would I want do that versus just kind of surfing around anonymously.

Nguyen: We're very excited about this expansion of our online services, Christine, because it's becoming the preferred way of doing business with Social Security in terms of how the public is concerned. We are encouraging all people who are entering their work years and even for those who are receiving Social Security benefits currently to go in and establish a My Social Security account because through My Social Security, people who are in their working years can get a look at the online Social Security statement that they can get an personalized statement that would give them estimates of their retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. For those individuals who are currently getting benefits, they can go online and actually get a benefit-verification letter for loan purposes, for housing purposes. They can change or start their direct deposit information or change their address online. And none of those services they were able to do before the My Social Security account.

Benz: So, we used to get those statements, those annual statements in the mail that summarized our anticipated benefits in retirement. Those aren't coming anymore?

Nguyen: That's right. Now, we introduced the new online statement in May 2012. Again, this is a cost-effective way for us to provide this information to the public. With this month's expansion of My Social Security account, they can create their own Social Security statement; they can get that personalized online statement.

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