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By Nicole Tiggemann
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Special to The SUN
Who’s on first base?
You are, when the time comes to do business with Social Security.
We always place customer service first and strive to hit a home run with every person we serve.
What’s on second? Our heavy-hitting team of top-rated online services, that’s what! For example, you can use my Social Security to set up an account and get access to your Social Security Statement to see estimates of your future benefits. If you know your bases are loaded and you are ready to retire, you can hit the ball out of the park with our online retirement application. You’ll find it all at www.socialsecurity.gov.
And third base? I don’t know. It’s hard to know when the right time to retire may be. Or, whether retirement planning will even be your first play with Social Security, given that we also pitch disability and survivors benefits. The future may be as unpredictable as a World Series winner on opening day. But what we do know is that our online tools and services can help you plan for whatever your Social Security needs may be throughout your lifetime.
The tried and true “Who’s On First” comedy routine made famous by Abbott and Costello is as American as baseball, apple pie and Social Security.
Baseball is an annual rite of summer and a game known for its numbers. Cal Ripken’s record 2,632 consecutive games played. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. These and countless other baseball statistics tell stories greater than the numbers themselves. Mention any one of these to a baseball fan and you’re sure to call to mind memories and stories.
Social Security’s numbers tell stories, too. The first lump sum Social Security payment of 17 cents was made to Ernest Ackerman in 1937. The first monthly Social Security check of $22.54 went to Ida May Fuller in January of 1940. This year, about 58 million Americans will receive $821 billion in Social Security benefits. The average monthly benefit for a retired worker in 2013 is $1,262.
An estimated 161 million workers are covered under Social Security — that’s 94 percent of the workforce. Of those, 51 percent of workers have no private pension coverage and 34 percent have no savings set aside specifically for retirement. These and other numbers make it easy to appreciate the value of Social Security.
Nine out of 10 Americans age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits. And among the unmarried, 46 percent rely on Social Security benefits for 90 percent or more of their income.
Retirement benefits are just one of the many benefits Social Security provides. Disabled workers and their dependents account for 19 percent of the total benefits paid, while survivors benefits account for 11 percent. One in four of today’s 20-year olds will become disabled before reaching age 67, and the majority of these workers have no long-term disability insurance besides their Social Security coverage.
Who’s on first is you. What’s on second is our suite of useful tools and information on all of our benefits, which you can find at www.socialsecurity.gov. And third? We may not know, but in baseball and life, statistics can tell us the odds. Knowing these numbers and visiting Social Security’s website for a little retirement and financial planning can help you know when to swing away at retirement.
Learn more about Social Security by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov.