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Get to Know Your Social Security

December 14, 2017 • By

Last Updated: August 2, 2021

man reading on laptop in kitchen Social Security touches the lives of nearly every American. We’ve been with you from day one, when your parents applied for your Social Security number, and we are with you from your first job through your retirement party and beyond.

For more than 80 years, Social Security has stayed true to its mission of providing financial protection for the American people and has served as one of the most successful anti-poverty programs in our nation’s history. We encourage everyone to take steps toward their financial security. Regardless of your age or place in life, now is the right time to start planning for a financially secure future for you and your family.

Everyone can benefit from our first step: Get to know your Social Security. You can start your journey through all things Social Security by visiting our website and navigating through our menu.

Along the way, you’ll see how your Social Security number opens many important doors throughout life, from making it easier to apply for student aid and open your first bank account to starting your first job and buying your first house. You’ll also discover how your contributions to the Social Security system through FICA payroll taxes can make you eligible for important future benefits when you reach retirement age or if you become severely injured or ill.

You’ll find how Social Security helps your family in the form of survivor benefits and how our Supplemental Security Income program assists disabled children and our most vulnerable adults.

We also encourage you to visit our website and set up your own personal my Social Security account today so you can begin taking steps toward financial security.

Through our website and your online account with us, you can:

  • Verify your lifetime earnings record to ensure you’re getting credit for all your contributions toward Social Security and Medicare.
  • Estimate future benefits for you and your family.
  • Manage your Social Security benefits and personal information.

We encourage you to visit us online.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Joseph D.

    How can I change my address if I live in a foreign country?

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for contacting us, Joseph. We recommend that individuals living outside the United States contact their local U.S. embassy or consulate for any assistance related to Social Security programs and benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad. Thanks.

      • James

        Yes that is what one is supposed to do, however, the personal at the US Embassy, that handle Social Security matters, never return calls or emails. Very sad and a waste of taxpayer money.

        • Ray F.

          Hi James. We apologize and we regret to hear you did not receive the level of customer service you expected. Keep in mind that our Office of International Operations can provide assistance to our customers living abroad. We hope you try again, thanks!

  2. MrTakaphan T.

    Thank sir, for open my benefits retirement and reported to me on 12/15/2017 my address 201,9village,banphan,phonnakaie district,sakonnakon, Thailand 47230 Tell +660881937865_0879363314!

  3. James G.

    After receiving 2 forms to show I have been covered with health insurance till 11/30/2017 while on disability 8/17/2015 my 65th birthday was 6/26/2017 I have been contacted by social security that they would charge me 139 when it is to be 109,so do I once again have more p/w to file?

    • Snarky

      The standard amount that people who first become eligible in 2017 pay is $134.00, not $109. $109.00 is the average amount people pay because many people do not pay the full or standard amount. If you have high income (aren’t you lucky) you pay more than the $134.00. You do not have to file more paper work unless you have nothing better to do.

  4. John L.

    I enjoyed this story. Many Americans are counting on Social Security. Unfortunately, the stored funds have been depleted throughout the years by acts of congress. They borrow from the fund but never pay it back. The return on our money over a lifetime of deposits is not too impressive.
    I too am counting on SSA to provide some funds for my retirement. Unfortunately, my new retirement age of 66 years 10 months is fairly unreasonable. My parents generation retired at 60 or 62. Now I’m looking at 7 years later.

    • Snarky

      The money was never borrowed and not paid back, the funds are covered by Treasury Notes.

  5. Hope

    Thanks for the COLA increase!!! I realized a net gain of $2.00 – thanks to increase in Medicare, etc. Perhaps I should send this $2.00 to our Congress personnel. It’s time for those making the laws to bear some of the pain that they inflict!!!!

    • Martha S.

      It is more result from obama’care’ out of control cost = senior abuse! ;-(

      • Truth

        That is not true. The 1997 Balanced Budget Act calls for 25% of Medicare costs to be paid for by your premiums. Hold harmless was enacted in 1987 (Reagan Years) to keep your premiums from being more than the raise in your COLA. They cannot raise your premiums if you are protected by hold harmless. But they have to have premiums that cover the costs due to the 1997 law. So, they raise the premium on everyone who doesn’t have Social Security. So, when you do have a COLA that is more than the premium is raised, they offset what you didn’t get charged before.

    • Donna S.

      you are lucky I got nothing….so much for the 2% increase

  6. Barbara G.

    Are you “frigging:” kidding me. My big wonderful SS raise was a measly $4.00. The Government sucks and so does SS for a promise of an increase since 2015 is not just $4.00. The big brothers in the Government got more than all the seniors in the USA. I am sick of all the working life I gave to the USA and the SS that was taken out and now at 79 yrs. all I got was $4.00 bucks. BFD, I can get a burger at McDonald’s with fries.

    • John L.

      Sorry, a burger and fries is more than that. You can get a candy bar.

      • Martha S.

        Mine is $0, and most Everybody gets close to that!

    • Snarky

      Under the last few Obama years you received nothing additional. Now you bitch because you only received an additional 4 dollars. By the way over 70% of the folks received nothing more. Daddy said, “some folks would bitch if they got hung with a new rope”.

  7. Susan m.

    Ss stole half my money plus made me take Medicare as primary ins at age 45 after working from age 18 years old. In factory’s with 60 hours or more a week. I went out for operation only next thing o knew I was almost homeless forced to apply ss job had private plan wrote letter pay me and husband ins since he had no job at all that that would be primary I would get 60 percent pay check All this next thing my mom dies after taking care of her bed ridden 9 years. I become very very sick of course found out now it has to do with all 7 toxic chemical poisoning I have from working at these factories that didn’t tell me that I was working with or using gloves to work with. So had no dr that wanted me dropped me day got Medicare on spot. Called company called ss called Medicare called entire phone book. Everyone and anyone. I wrote to five different labor boards if put together I’m owed 300000 now from paying husband ins over200 a month x 8 years until I separated. Now they admired but say too bad It’s too long now. Lost entire life saving took 402 k got total disability on four months so I was told only 10 percent took 30 then profit sharing gone and 3 m stock also after told can’t have anything they gave. So I know now I’m going to retire with same 380 a month at 19 dollars a hour if I brought home 700 a week at age 25 how at age 42 at 19 dollars a hour with sometimes 7 days a week forced plus extra 6 hours a day can I only geyn39000 end of year tell me this. Also tell me why I have at least 20 to 30 or more pay stubs that 401 taken out but no 3 m matched I gave up because I got robbed from 2002 to 2016 who cared no one because if no money lawyer took every dime have metal posion hip no money Medtronic stimulator for pain wasn’t missed recall no money mess hernias 6 no money. 7 toxic metals from factory’s no money no ins stole stock pension life saving now no ins got two grant for medical bills only already

    • Snarky

      You are fortunate to have made it so far. Illiteracy, however, is not by itself a disabling condition.

  8. Concerned C.

    Yea,…it’s just too bad that even when we’ve earned all those points to retire, OR, have other reasons to need to make claim to the funds we’ve been putting, (like disability!), we have to fight like hell for it,…even though is is OUR MONEY!!
    When are you people going to learn that that money is NOT yours to do with what you want,….it is ours!! It’s our retirement finding!!

    • Martha S.

      FDR was a Big Socialist to start SS!

    • Marc

      It’s to protect “your money” from being wasted, duh. They’re extremely careful to make sure they don’t just hand out $If someone isn’t qualified.

  9. Thomas M.

    Why is my COLA used for Medicare costs?

    • Martha S.

      Because horrible costs of obama’care’!

      • Truth

        The 1997 Balanced Budget Act requires that 25% of Medicare costs are covered by premiums. Therefore, the premiums increase to cover those costs. In 1987 they enacted the Hold Harmless provision of the Social Security law. Most Medicare enrollees have their Part B premium withheld from their monthly Social Security benefit. For those individuals, a hold-harmless provision guarantees that a benefit check will not decrease as a result of an increase in the Part B premium. The dollar increase in the Part B premium for a year is compared to the dollar increase in the Social Security monthly benefit. If the dollar increase in the premium is larger than the dollar increase in the Social Security benefit, then the increase in the Part B premium paid by the beneficiary is limited to the dollar increase in the Social Security benefit. However, this applies to about three quarters of Medicare beneficiaries. So, if they cannot raise the cost on three quarters of the beneficiaries, the costs of the premiums for the remaining 25% will raise faster and farther to accommodate the law. So, this means when you do not have a raise in your premium due to the Hold Harmless provision, the rest of Medicare subsidizes your premium discrepancy in their premiums. So, when the COLA comes out and is larger than the increase in the premium, you will have your premiums raised to offset the earlier premiums you did not pay.

        • Ray F.

          When there is an increase in the Medicare Part B premium, a statutory “hold harmless” provision protects approximately 70 percent of Medicare Part B enrollees from paying a higher Part B premium to avoid reducing their net Social Security benefit. Enrollees not protected include higher income individuals subject to an income-adjusted Part B premium and beneficiaries newly entitled to Part B in 2018. Additionally, enrollees who have their Medicare Part B premiums paid by state Medicaid agencies will see no change in their Social Security benefit. The state will pay any Medicare Part B premium increase. For more, visit “2018 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles“. Thanks!

  10. Gennady

    Very Lov payment hard to live 318 dollar I have ms wife divorse bad balance hard to walking

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