Understanding The Social Security Website

By Tim Parker | August 19, 2014 AAA
Understanding The Social Security Website

The place to go to learn about all things Social Security is ssa.gov, the official website of the United States Social Security Administration. To comply with the Plain Writing Act of 2010, information on the site was rewritten to make it easier to read and understand.

Like any website, it takes some time to find all of the resources available. Here are some of the most important parts and how to find them.

Top Menu- Click here

The main navigation menu contains six basic topics with numerous subtopics under each. Links for changing your name or ordering replacement cards are under "Numbers and Cards." Educational links and application procedures are found under the "Benefits" tab, and information related to various ethnic groups as well as same-sex couples is located in the “Information for…” tab.

Login- Click here

Once you reach ssa.gov, log in (or create an account) by clicking on the graphic on the left side of the screen on the homepage. Having logged in, you can view your estimated benefits and see other important information – such as how to apply for benefits.

Online Services- Click here

You can reach some of the same information without logging in by clicking on the online services icon in the center of the homepage. Through the online services page you can apply for benefits, estimate future benefits, appeal a recent decision related to your benefits and more. Some of the links will require you to log in.

Retirement Estimator- Click here

As you move closer to retirement you’ll want to know how much you’ll receive each month. The retirement estimator, located near the center of the homepage, will give you an estimate. Ssa.gov will access your records and provide a detailed estimate. The site cautions that it cannot provide an estimate until you have enough credits to qualify, and that the estimate it provides is not your "actual benefit amount," which you can't get "until you apply for benefits." This page can only estimate retirement benefits – not disability or other benefit amounts.

Frequently Asked Questions- Click here

The FAQ section, under "Items of Interest" at the bottom (left side) of the homepage, contains the most common questions organized by category. Before going to the vast publications section, click on the FAQs. If you can’t find an answer by browsing through some of the topics, use the page’s search function to search for keywords. It’s probably easier to find the answer here instead of in the publications.

Forms- Click here

What would a government agency be without a dizzying amount of forms? The most common forms are listed on the forms page, which you can reach by clocking on "Forms" in "Items of Interest" at the bottom of the homepage. If you can’t find the form you’re looking for, call your local office.

Publications- Click here

The publications section, also found at the bottom of the homepage, contains all the official publications that provide in-depth information about issues affecting your benefits and contributions. Most documents are available in multiple languages, as an audio file and in PDF format. Search by topic, publication number or subject matter.

The Bottom Line

From the homepage of ssa.gov, you can reach all of the important information you need in one or two clicks. Like any government website, the large volume of information makes it difficult to find information at first. Taking time to look around the site will make the job of locating information much easier next time you come looking for answers.

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