Plain Talk (About Social Security)

A happy family looks at a computer.The report cards are in. For the second year in a row, some of the best writing in federal government came from Social Security!

…we have made it a priority to speak to you plainly.

The Center for Plain Language issued its annual Federal Plain Language Report Card. The annual report grades federal agencies on how well they communicate with the nation’s taxpayers, and gives grades from A to F on:

  • Compliance with the requirements of the Plain Writing Act of 2010:
  • Plain writing; and
  • Information design.

This year, the Social Security Administration tied for top grades with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Homeland Security. We’re the only agency that has received top marks for two consecutive years.

Let’s face it:  There’s only so much time in the day. There are limitless distractions between your social media feeds and work emails. Do you have time to sift through confusing government jargon and paperwork that you have to read multiple times to understand?

We could explain our programs with complex legalese and confusing run-on sentences. We could add some infographics and long web links. We could even reference SPORT without actually clarifying that, in our world, it’s an acronym for Special Procedures for Overpayment Reduction.

Instead, we have made it a priority to speak to you plainly.

Our mission is to deliver world-class services and make our communications about those services as clear, concise, and easy to understand as possible. You can see our high grades, and those of other federal agencies here.

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108 thoughts on “Plain Talk (About Social Security)

    • Andrea, you can apply for Social Security retirement benefits when you are at least 61 years and 9 months of age AND if want your benefits to start in the following three months. We calculate and establish your payment amount based on when you file for your benefits, and our system is only set up to take applications three months in advance. You can use our Online Retirement Estimator to give you estimates on your future retirement benefits. You can also create a my Social Security account to review your benefit estimates, earnings record, and the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.

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  2. I plan on file next year when I am 62. I understand I can earn up to 15,700, the question is my wife still has 11 before she can file, does the money she earn affect my ss payment?

    • Hi Robert. No, the money that your wife earns will not affect your Social Security retirement benefits. We count only the wages you make from your job or your net earnings if you’re self-employed. The earnings limit for beneficiaries under full retirement age is $15,720 in 2015. This amount can change every year, and the earnings limit amount for 2016 is not yet available. We will post the 2016 information on our website when we receive it. Please see our publication How Work Affects Your Benefits for more information.

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    • Hi, Barbara. Generally, we return your documents in a separate mailing. Also, there should be a local phone number on your receipt, for you to call and follow up if necessary. We hope this helps.

  5. hi someone has stole my social security card i am soon to be 78 dec2nd.i am also a lyrangectonee(no voice box)other than my age I am in good health.i would like to add a code just in case it got stolen again an some one try’s uses my card.they should be arreated right then on the spot or you can send me a new medicare card that would take care of both my medicare cars is old…my name Virginia H. I donot talk verbley,i write what I need to say.have been with out a voice box over 40 yrs…thank you for your assistance.

    • Hi Virginia. We do not have access to personal information, therefore, we do not do direct messaging in this venue.
      You can get a Medicare replacement card by using your online my Social Security account. Also, realize that you may not need a replacement Social Security card. You will rarely need to show it. Knowing your Social Security number is what is important. To see if you’re eligible to apply for a replacement Social Security card online or to learn more on the process and what documents you will need to get a card, please visit our “New or Replacement Social Security Number and Card” web page. We hope this helps!
      Just a reminder – please be cautious about posting personal information on social media and communicating personal information via email.

  6. I was approved disability Nov 30 2017,today is March 3rd I haven’t received no payment or reward letter, what do I do,I was told by disability lawyer I should receive my first payment in January 2018,its now March 2018 no reward letter or payment, can some one tell me what to do

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