Get to Know Your Social Security

By Deborah Banikowski

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 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 “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; and

• Learn more about how we’re securing your today and tomorrow.

Now that you’ve started to get to know your Social Security, stay in touch by visiting our Social Security Matters blog at

We encourage you to visit us at


Q: Can I get a new Social Security number if someone has stolen my identity?

A: We do not routinely assign a new number to someone whose identity has been stolen. Only as a last resort should you consider requesting a new Social Security number. Changing your number may adversely affect your ability to interact with federal and state agencies, employers and others. This is because your financial, medical, employment and other records will be under your former Social Security number. We cannot guarantee that a new number will solve your problem. To learn more about your Social Security card and number, read our online publication on the subject at

Q: I’m trying to decide when to retire. Can Social Security help?

A: Deciding when to retire is a personal choice, and you should consider a number of factors, but we can certainly help. First, take a few minutes and open a “my Social Security” account at With a “my Social Security” account, you can access your Social Security statement and estimate your retirement benefits at age 62, your full retirement age, and age 70. Also, we have several online calculators that can help you decide when to retire. Our retirement estimator gives estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record. You can use the retirement estimator if:

• You currently have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits; and

• You are not:
– Currently receiving monthly benefits on your own Social Security record;
– Age 62 or older and receiving monthly benefits on another Social Security record; or
– Eligible for a pension based on work not covered by Social Security.

You can find our retirement estimator at Also available at are several other calculators that will show your retirement benefits as well as estimates of your disability and survivor benefit if you become disabled or die. You may want to read or listen to our publication, “When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits,” available at