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Resolved: a better retirement plan

Social Security News


Another New Year is upon us, offering a new opportunity to improve your life in any number of ways with a wise New Year’s resolution or two. (No doubt, for most of us the possibilities are endless.) But one good idea for many might be creating (or updating) a long-term financial plan. 

According to a 2013 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “the percentage of workers confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement is essentially

unchanged from the record lows observed in 2011.” Only 13 percent are very confident of being able to afford a comfortable retirement, while 28 percent are not at all confident.

If you are among those with lower financial confidence and you haven’t started to save for retirement already, now is the time to begin — no matter what your age. If retirement is near, you’ll want to jump into the fast lane right away. If you’re younger and retirement seems a lifetime away, it’s still in your best interest to begin saving now, as compound interest will work to your advantage. Experts agree that saving when you’re young will make a world of difference when the time comes to draw on your retirement savings.

Don’t take our word for it. You can check out the numbers yourself. A great place to start figuring out how much you will need for retirement is to learn how much you could expect from Social Security. You can do that in minutes with Social Security’s online Retirement Estimator.

The Retirement Estimator offers an instant and personalized estimate of your future Social Security retirement benefits based on your earnings record. Try it out at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

We encourage saving for retirement, but there are reasons to save for every stage of life. A great place to go for help is www.mymoney.gov. MyMoney.gov is the government’s website dedicated to teaching Americans the basics about financial education. Whether you are planning to buy a home, balancing your checkbook, or investing in your 401(k) plan, the resources on www.mymoney.gov can help you.

Another excellent resource is the Ballpark E$timator at www.choosetosave.org/ballpark. This online tool takes complicated issues, like projected Social Security benefits and earnings assumptions on savings, and turns them into language and numbers that are easy to understand.

So turn over a new financial page in your life with the start of a new year, and get started at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Social Security Q&A

Question: My wife and I plan on visiting the grandchildren over the winter, during which time my wife will turn 62. Can she apply for retirement benefits in another state, or do we have to wait until we get back home to apply for retirement at our local Social Security office?

Answer: These days, you don’t have to be near a Social Security office to apply for benefits. Regardless of where you and your wife are living or traveling, you can apply for retirement benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. It’s so easy to do, and it can take as little as 15 minutes to complete and submit the application. In most cases, once you submit your application electronically, you’re done. You can go back to enjoying your grandchildren.

Question: How can I get proof of my benefits to apply for a loan?

Answer: If you need proof you get Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicare, you can request a benefit verification letter online through your “my Social Security” account at www.

socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. This letter is sometimes called a “budget letter,” a “benefits letter,” a “proof of income letter,” or a “proof of award letter.” You even can select the information you want included in your online benefit verification letter.