Q: It has been some time since I have received a Social Security estimated-benefit statement. Has this service stopped?
A: Yes and no. To cut costs, Social Security stopped mailing estimated-benefit statements to everyone who has paid into the system. Instead, it has made the estimated-benefit information available online.
To access your information online, you must establish an account. You must have a Social Security number, be at least 18 and have a U.S. mailing address. To start the process, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement.
You will be asked to create a user name and password and set up three security questions. It is suggested a password or user name have uppercase and lowercase letters, a mixture of numbers and letters or symbols and eight or fewer digits.
The security questions should be about something particular to you, such as the name of your favorite book or movie, favorite food or favorite color. Only you should know it. It is strongly suggested you do not use your pet’s or mother’s maiden name because other people could know these things.
You should then record these words someplace safe so you can access your account in the future.
Once your account has been set up, you can click on “Print/Save Your Full Statement.” The format will resemble the benefit estimates you received in paper form. Your benefit estimates will be on Page 2, and your earning record will be on Page 3.
If you have problems setting up your account, you can enroll at a Social Security office.
If you are worried about hackers gaining access to your information, you can add a layer of security. A code will be sent by text to your cellphone when you want to log in, and you’ll need to enter that code online.
Paper statements have not completely gone away. The government has resumed mailing paper estimated-benefit statements to people 60 and older who are not yet receiving Social Security benefits. The agency also plans to send statements to wage earners when they turn 25. This will give the beneficiaries an early look at their projected benefits. Anyone can still request a paper copy of a benefits statement, but it will not be automatically sent each year.
n Monday: “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test?” seminar. 1:30-3 p.m.; Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi. For reservations and information, call 583-6363.
n Sept. 27: “Preventing Falls” seminar. 3:30 p.m.; Senior Concerns Day Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. For information and registration, call 497-0189.
“What Medicare Beneficiaries Must Know to Prepare for Medicare’s 2013 Enrollment” will be offered three times:
n 1-3 p.m. Friday, County of Ventura Area Agency on Aging, 646 County Square Drive in Ventura. For information, call 477-7310.
n 10-11:30 a.m. Monday, Pleasant Valley Senior Center, 1603 E. Burnley St. in Camarillo. For information, call 482-4881.
n 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Moorpark Senior Center, 799 Moorpark Ave. For information, call 517-6261, ext. 261.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362, or call 495-6250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your telephone number.