Quality time on Social Security website

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by Patricia Thibault

Summertime is here, and for many people that means vacation. Some of the best vacations are the ones that allow you to spend time with family who live far away.

If you’re planning to visit your kids and grandkids this summer, why not make the most of your time with them? You may know your way around a computer. But youngsters today who grew up on a computer can teach most of us some new tricks. And they’d probably be thrilled to share some online time with their grandparents. Ask them to pull out their tablet, iPad, or laptop and show you how to find your way around Social Security’s website, http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

Ask them to show you how to use http://www.socialsecurity.gov to avoid unneeded trips to a Social Security office. Have them show you our library of online publications containing all the information you might want to know on an array of Social Security, retirement, and Medicare subjects. The publications can be found at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/index.html. If you’re thinking about retirement, for example, you may want to check out When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10147.html. (Unlike some libraries, there’s no due date to remember.)

That was easy! With the young ones helping you, you might as well go ahead and spend another 15 minutes to get the job done. No need to put on your shoes and sunglasses—you can apply online without having to leave your home. Visit http://www.social­security.gov/applyonline where you can apply for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes. Once you click the “submit” button, you’re done; in most cases there are no forms to sign or documents to mail in.

Here’s a way to get the attention of the young ones: ask them about Facebook and Twitter. Once they’ve got you on Facebook, you’ll have a new way of connecting with them. Did you know Social Security is on Facebook and Twitter too? Just go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov and click the Facebook and Twitter icons on the main page.

Visiting your kids and grandchildren can be a lot of fun. Make it productive as well by asking the young whiz kid in your family about http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

(Patricia Thibault is Social Security manager in Pittsburgh.)

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