News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 23, 2009

Social Security: This Thanksgiving, pass the mouse

By Brian Hewitt

TERRE HAUTE — Thanksgiving is almost here. Families across the nation will come together to share more than a meal — to share warm memories, and to make them. You may plan to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade, toss a football on the leaf-covered yard or simply sit together over coffee or wine to talk. While the family is together, it may be the perfect time to help Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa, or your favorite aunt or uncle. Just ask them to pass the mouse.

No, we’re not suggesting a new meal plan — ask them to pass the computer mouse. Relax in front of the computer and show them how easy it is to conduct their Social Security business online from the convenience and comfort of their own home or office. Just visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

There are a number of the things you can help your loved ones do online. Use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool, or BEST, to see whether they qualify for benefits. Or use the Retirement Estimator for an instant and personalized estimate of their retirement benefits. You can learn about these and many other online services available by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices.

But perhaps the best thing you can do to help them this Thanksgiving is to go beyond just helping them prepare — help your loved ones apply online for Social Security benefits.

That’s right! You can help them apply for Social Security retirement benefits right from the comfort and convenience of the family computer. What’s more is that you can do it in as little as 15 minutes.

It’s so easy to apply for retirement benefits online. There’s no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative.

Need to take a break or look for some records to answer the questions — or snack on leftovers? That’s just fine with us. You can leave and then come back to complete your application.

In most cases, once the application is submitted electronically, that’s it. There are no forms to sign and usually no further documents required. Social Security will process the application and contact your loved one if any further information is needed. After you have applied, you can check back online for the status of your application as well.

So once you’ve stuffed yourself with turkey and pie, pass the mouse and visit Social Security’s online services at www.socialsecurity.gov.