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Lifestyles

June 9, 2012

Social Security: Be a superhero and check your benefits online

Summertime is here, and that means blockbuster movies are in season. This summer -- and throughout the end of the year -- moviegoers can catch some of the usual heroes on the silver screen.

Take Batman. He'll be back on the big screen in another surefire blockbuster. The superhero first gained fans in the comics back in 1939. He could be taking advantage of delayed retirement credits -- the power to receive bigger payments for delaying retirement benefits beyond one's full retirement age. The credit could be worth as much as eight percent a year until age 70. Learn more about this super power available to anyone at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/delayret.htm.

"Dark Shadows" has made a big-screen debut, based on the popular television series of the 1970s. The main character, Barnabas, is more than two centuries old. Surely, he would qualify for benefits if he would just go online and apply.

Then there are the marvelous superheroes of the "silver age" of comics, several of whom are appearing in The Avengers. Captain America was born in 1941, making him not only fit for leading but also ripe for retiring.

The Hulk and Thor both came onto the scene in 1962; Iron Man and Nick Fury joined them in 1963. They, along with 1962's Spiderman (also enjoying a movie reboot this year), don't qualify for retirement benefits yet, but they might want to plan ahead by taking a look at the online Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator, where they can get an instant, personalized estimate of future retirement benefits.

If you'd like to learn more about your own future retirement benefits, take a break from the big screen and take a look at your computer screen. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator to receive a picture of your own future retirement.

Social Security recently unveiled a new online service that will help you keep track of your earnings and plan for the future. Our online version of the Social Security Statement is now available at www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement. It provides eligible workers with secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information. Users will be able to view their earnings records and get estimates of future benefits for retirement, disability and survivors' benefits.

The online statement is an important financial planning tool for workers, as well as a convenient way to determine whether we accurately posted earnings to their Social Security records. Workers can save or print the personalized statement.

To request an online statement, a worker must access our website and then register for a "My Social Security" account. To create an account, a worker must provide a valid email address, have a Social Security number, have a U.S. mailing address, and be at least 18 years old.

Next, the worker will create a user name and password to access his or her secure online account.

We will continue to mail paper statements to workers ages 60 and older (about three months before their birthday) if they are not already receiving benefits. Later this year, we plan to mail paper statements to workers in the year they reach age 25.

In addition, workers who do not have Internet access, have blocked access to their personal information online, or are otherwise unable to use the online process, will be able to request a paper statement by calling our national 800 number, (800) 772-1213, or (800) 325-077, if deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Remember to keep looking at www.socialsecurity.gov for up-to-date information and services from Social Security.

tracey L. weaver is district manager of the Oneonta office of the Social Security Administration. 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.

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