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Social Security Resources That Can Protect Elders From Scams

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is on June 15. On this day, communities, seniors, caregivers, governments, organizations, and the private sector unite to prevent the mistreatment of and violence against older people.

Social Security scams are widespread across the United States and its territories. Scammers use sophisticated tactics to deceive you into providing sensitive information or money. They target everyone – especially the elderly – and their tactics continue to evolve.

Here are five easy-to-use resources to prevent Social Security fraud:

· Check out our Fraud Prevention and Reporting page to learn about Social Security fraud – and how we fight scammers at www.ssa.gov/fraud.

· Read our Scam Alert fact sheet to learn what tactics scammers use and how to protect yourself at www.ssa.gov/fraud/assets/materials/EN-05-10597.pdf. · Create your own personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount to stay one step ahead of scammers. Please read our blog post at blog.ssa.gov/my-social-security-what-to-know-about-signing-up-or-signing-in for more information about creating or signing in to your personal my Social Security account.

· Learn about other types of fraud on our Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Scam Awareness page at oig.ssa.gov/scam-awareness/scam-alert. You’ll also see how to report these scams to our OIG and other government agencies.

· Read our blog post to learn how to guard your Social Security card – and protect your personal information at blog.ssa.gov/guard-your-card-protect-whats-important-to-you/.

If you suspect that have been a victim of identity theft, please call the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-438-4338 or access www.idtheft.gov .

Please share this information with your friends and family to help spread awareness about Social Security imposter scams.

For more information on Social Security benefits and services, please call 1-800-772-1213, access www.socialsecurity.gov or visit your local field office available at www.ssa.gov/locator/.

By VICTOR RODRIGUEZ

Public Affairs Specialist

Social Security Administration, Puerto Rico and USVI

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Social Security Board of Trustees: Outlook of Combined Trust Funds Improves

The Social Security Board of Trustees on Thursday released its annual report on the financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds.

The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASI and DI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2035, one year later than projected last year, with 80 percent of benefits payable at that time.

The OASI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted in 2034, one year later than last year’s estimate, with 77 percent of benefits payable at that time. The DI Trust Fund asset reserves are not projected to become depleted during the 75-year projection period.

In the 2022 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:

· The asset reserves of the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds declined by $56 billion in 2021 to a total of $2.852 trillion.

· The total annual cost of the program is projected to exceed total annual income in 2022 and remain higher throughout the 75-year projection period. Total cost began to be higher than total income in 2021. Social Security’s cost has exceeded its non-interest income since 2010.

· The year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, is 2035 – one year later than last year’s projection. At that time, there would be sufficient income coming in to pay 80 percent of scheduled benefits.

“It is important to strengthen Social Security for future generations. The Trustees recommend that lawmakers address the projected trust fund shortfalls in a timely way in order to phase in necessary changes gradually,” said Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “Social Security will continue to be a vital part of the lives of 66 million beneficiaries and 182 million workers and their families during 2022.”

Other highlights of the Trustees Report include:

Total income, including interest, to the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds amounted to $1.088 trillion in 2021. ($980.6 billion from net payroll tax contributions, $37.6 billion from taxation of benefits, and $70.1 billion in interest)

· Total expenditures from the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds amounted to nearly $1.145 trillion in 2021.

· Social Security paid benefits of $1.133 trillion in calendar year 2021. There were about 65 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.

· The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 3.42 percent of taxable payroll – lower than the 3.54 percent projected in last year’s report.

· During 2021, an estimated 179 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.

· The cost of $6.5 billion to administer the Social Security program in 2021 was a very low 0.6 percent of total expenditures.

· The combined Trust Fund asset reserves earned interest at an effective annual rate of 2.5 percent in 2021.

The Board of Trustees usually comprises six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Martin J. Walsh, Secretary of Labor. The two public trustee positions are currently vacant.

View the 2022 Trustees Report at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2022/

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Social Security Collaboration: Social Security Honors Military Heroes

On Memorial Day, our nation honors military service members who have given their lives to preserve our freedoms. Families, friends, and communities come together to remember the great sacrifices of military members and ensure their legacies live on.

The benefits we provide can help the families of deceased military service members. For example, widows, widowers, surviving divorced spouses, dependent children, and dependent parents may be eligible for Social Security survivor’s benefits. You can learn more about those benefits at www.ssa.gov/survivors.

We also offer support to wounded warriors. Social Security benefits protect veterans when injuries prevent them from returning to active duty or performing other work. Both the

Department of Veteran Affairs and Social Security have disability programs. You may qualify for disability benefits through one or both programs. Read our new fact sheet, “Social Security Disability and Veterans Affairs Disability — How Do They Compare?” at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-64-125.pdf. Depending on your situation, some members of your family, including your dependent children or spouse, may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. Under certain rules, we may also pay benefits to divorced spouses.

Wounded military service members can receive quicker processing of their Social Security disability claims. If you are a veteran with a 100% Permanent & Total compensation rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, we’ll expedite your disability claim. Want more information about how we can help? Visit www.ssa.gov/woundedwarriors for answers to frequently asked questions or to find information about the application process.

Thinking about retirement or know a veteran who is? Military service members can receive Social Security benefits in addition to their military retirement benefits. For details, visit our webpage for veterans, available at www.ssa.gov/people/veterans.

Please share this information with the military families you know. We honor and thank the veterans who bravely served and died for our country and the military service members who serve today.

For more information on our benefits and services, please call 1-800-772-1213, access www.socialsecurity.gov or visit your local Social Security office.

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Do You Qualify For Social Security Spouse Benefits?

Social Security benefits are a crucial part of millions of Americans’ retirement income. If you don’t have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits on your own record, you may be able to receive benefits on your spouse’s record.

Spousal benefits apply equally to both heterosexual and same-sex couples. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as most states, do not recognize consensual union as legal marriage. Therefore, to qualify for possible Social Security benefits as a spouse, the union had to be formalized with a marriage certificate. At the time of applying for benefits, the couple must have been married for at least one year, unless they have biological children together.

To qualify for spouse’s benefits, you must be one of the following:

· 62 years of age or older.

· Any age and have in your care a child younger than age 16, or who has a disability and is entitled to receive benefits on your spouse’s record.

Your spouse’s full benefit could be up to one-half the amount your spouse would be entitled to receive at his/her full retirement age. We clarify that the possible benefit to the spouse will not reduce the amount that the insured person receives from Social Security -unless there is a court order related to child support or alimony-. If you choose to receive your spouse’s benefits before reaching full retirement age, you will get a permanently reduced benefit. If you wait until you reach full retirement age to receive benefits, you’ll receive your full spouse’s benefit amount, which is up to one-half the amount your spouse can receive. You’ll also get your full spouse’s benefit if you are under full retirement age, but care for a child and one of the following applies:

· The child is younger than age 16.

· The child has a disability and is entitled to receive benefits on your spouse’s record.

If you’re eligible to receive retirement benefits on your own record, we will pay that amount first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits that equal the higher spouse benefit.

For example, Sandy qualifies for a retirement benefit of $1,000 and a spouse’s benefit of $1,250. At her full retirement age, she will receive her own $1,000 retirement benefit. We will add $250 from her spouse’s benefit, for a total of $1,250.

Want to apply for either your or your spouse’s benefits? Are you at least 61 years and nine months old? If you answered yes to both, visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement to get started today.

Are you divorced from a marriage that lasted at least 10 years? You may be able to get benefits on your former spouse’s record. You can find out more by visiting www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html for more information.

Clarify questions on Social Security’s benefits and services by calling 1-800-772-1213 or accessing www.socialsecurity,gov

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Social Security Administration Resumes In-Person Services At Local SSA Offices

We are pleased to announce that local Social Security offices are offering more in-person appointments and have resumed in-person services for people without an appointment.

To avoid waiting in line, we strongly encourage people, who can, to use our online services at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices, call us, and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment. Phone appointments can save you a trip to a busy office. We thank the public for your patience as we work to increase service.

Customers who walk in without appointments may encounter delays and longer waits at our offices. Before coming to an office, we encourage you to visit our emergency page at www.ssa.gov/emergency to check the office status. Be aware that our offices tend to be the busiest first thing in the morning, early in the week, and during the early part of the month, so people may want to plan to visit at other times.

Given that many of the people we serve have health vulnerabilities, and consistent with our union agreements, we are continuing to require certain safety measures. These include masking regardless of local guidance, physical distancing, and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms.

Most of our services are available to the public online and with a personal my Social Security account, or by telephone. And most of our services do not require the public to take time to visit an office. People may create their personal my Social Security account, a personalized online service, on our website at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Many of our services are also conveniently available by dialing toll-free, 1-800-772-1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

As we transition to a modern phone system, some people may experience a busy signal or be unintentionally disconnected from their call. We sincerely regret these disruptions and recommend people call when our National 800 Number may be less busy. Less busy times include before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. local time or later in the week. Like our offices, our waits are generally shorter later in the month.

In St. Thomas, the Social Security Administration (SSA) office is located at 8000 Nisky Shopping Center in Charlotte Amalie West.

To learn more, please visit our How to Get Help from Social Security page at www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/gethelp and our Online Services page at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices

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Social Security Administration Releases Equity Action Plan

The Social Security Administration released its first Equity Action Plan on Thursday, supporting President Biden’s whole-of-government equity agenda to advance equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity for all.

On January 20, 2021, The President signed an Executive Order, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The Executive Order requires all Federal agencies “to pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and other people who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

“Social Security’s programs touch the lives of nearly every American, providing income security for the diverse populations we serve, including people facing barriers, people with disabilities, people who are widowed, retirees, and their families,” said Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “Systemic barriers may prevent people who need our programs the most from accessing them. Our Equity Action Plan will help to reduce these barriers and ensure people have access to our services.”

Social Security’s Equity Action Plan includes:

· Increasing collection of race and ethnicity data to help understand whether programs are equitably serving applicants and beneficiaries,

· Revising policies and practices to expand options for service delivery,

· Ensuring equitable access for unrepresented claimants in the disability application process,

· Decreasing burdens for people who identify as gender diverse or transgender in the Social Security number card application process, and

· Increasing access to research grant programs for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions and procurement opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses.

To learn more about the actions outlined in the Equity Action Plan, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/open/materials/SSA-EO-13985-Equity-Action-Plan.pdf.

For more information about efforts to redress systemic barriers in policies and programs to advance equity for all, visit www.whitehouse.gov/equity.

La Administración del Seguro Social publica el Plan de Acción de Equidad

La Administración del Seguro Social publicó hoy su primer Plan de Acción de Equidad. El mismo respalda la agenda de equidad de toda la administración del Presidente Biden para promover la equidad, los derechos civiles, la justicia racial, y la igualdad de oportunidades para todos.

El Presidente firmó una Orden Ejecutiva el 20 de enero de 2021 Promoviendo la Equidad Racial y el Apoyo a las Comunidades Desfavorecidas a través del Gobierno Federal. La Orden Ejecutiva requiere que todas las agencias federales «busquen un enfoque integral para promover la equidad para todos, incluyendo las personas de color y otras personas que históricamente han sido desatendidas, marginadas y afectadas negativamente por la pobreza y la desigualdad persistente».

La Comisionada Interina, Kilolo Kijakazi, dijo: «Los programas del Seguro Social afectan la vida de casi todas las personas que viven en los EE. UU., proporcionando seguridad de ingresos para las diversas poblaciones a las que servimos, incluyendo las personas que enfrentan barreras, las personas con incapacidades, los cónyuges sobrevivientes, los jubilados, y sus familias. Las barreras sistémicas pueden impedir que las personas que más necesitan nuestros programas accedan a ellos. Nuestro Plan de Acción de Equidad ayudará a reducir estas barreras y garantizará que las personas tengan acceso a nuestros servicios».

El Plan de Acción de Equidad del Seguro Social incluye:

· Aumentar la recopilación de datos sobre raza y etnicidad para ayudar a comprender si los programas están sirviendo equitativamente a los solicitantes y beneficiarios,

· Revisar las políticas y prácticas para ampliar las opciones de distribución de servicios,

· Garantizar el acceso equitativo para los solicitantes sin representación en el proceso de solicitud de incapacidad,

· Facilitar el proceso de solicitud de tarjeta de número de Seguro Social para las personas que se identifican que se identifican como género diverso o transgénero, y

· Aumentar el acceso a los programas de becas de investigación para colegios y universidades históricamente para personas de color e instituciones que sirven a las minorías, así como oportunidades de adquisición para empresas pequeñas y desfavorecidas.

Para informarse mejor sobre las acciones descritas en el Plan de Acción de Equidad, visite www.socialsecurity.gov/open/materials/SSA-EO-13985-Equity-Action-Plan.pdf (solo disponible en inglés). Para informarse mejor sobre los esfuerzos para enmendar las barreras sistémicas en las políticas y los programas para promover la equidad para todos, visite www.whitehouse.gov/equity (solo disponible en inglés)

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How To Change Your Name On Your Social Security Card

A Social Security number is important because you need it to work, collect Social Security benefits, and receive certain government services. The information on your Social Security card must always be up-to-date and correct.

If you legally change your name or surname(s) because of marriage, divorce, court order, or any other reason, you must tell us right away so you can get a corrected card. You cannot apply to change your name online. To update your Social Security card, you need to:

o Show the required documents, including proof of your identity. These must be original documents (we could not accept photocopies).

Sometimes you may also need to prove your current U.S. citizenship or lawful noncitizen status. See what documents you need at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/ss5doc.htm. Under the heading, “Type of Card,” select “Corrected” for a list of the documents you need.

o Fill out and print the Application for a Social Security Card at www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf.

o Take or mail your application and documents to your local Social Security office. You can use our field office locator at www.socialsecurity.gov/locator For complete instructions, visit our webpage at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. You can also read the publication Your Social Security Number and Card at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10002.pdf.

Remember, never keep your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep it in a safe place to avoid identity theft.

For more information on Social Security’s benefits and services, please call our Tele-Service Center (1-800-772-1213) Mondays to Fridays 8:00AM-7:00PM or access www.socialsecurity.gov .

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Statement of Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner: Social Security Administration to Resume In-Person Services at Local Social Security Offices

Online Services and Telephone Remain Most Convenient Ways to Contact Agency

“I am pleased to announce that local Social Security offices will restore in-person services, including for people without an appointment, on April 7, 2022.

To avoid waiting in line, I strongly encourage people, who can, to use our online services at www.socialsecurity.gov, call us, and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment. Phone appointments can save you a trip to a busy office. I thank the public for your patience as we work to increase service.

Customers who walk in without appointments may encounter delays and longer waits at our offices. Be aware that our offices tend to be the busiest first thing in the morning, early in the week, and during the early part of the month, so people may want to plan to visit at other times. Given that many of the people we serve have health vulnerabilities, and consistent with our union agreements, we are continuing to require certain safety measures including masking, physical distancing, and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms. We will provide masks to the public and employees if they need them.

Thoughtful planning and preparation have shaped our process to restore in-person services. Social Security employees are dedicated to serving the public, and we are ready to welcome the public back to our offices. Our local managers understand and can address the needs of their communities. We have also implemented office-to-office support as well as brought recently retired employees back to assist the public. We thank the many interested stakeholders including the Department of Health and Human

Services’ Administration for Community Living and national advocate organizations for your help.

Throughout the pandemic, millions of people have used our secure and convenient online services and received help by phone. People who have access to the internet should first try our online services before calling us or visiting an office.

As we transition to a new modern phone system, some people may experience a busy signal or be unintentionally disconnected from their call. We sincerely regret this disruption and recommend people call when our National 800 Number may be less busy, such as before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. local time or later in the week. Like our offices, our waits are generally shorter later in the month.

To learn more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/gethelp/ and www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices/.”

Additional Information

Most Social Security services are available to the public online at www.socialsecurity.gov and with a my Social Security account, or by telephone. And most Social Security services do not require the public to take time to visit an office. People may create their my Social Security account, a personalized online service, at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

People who set up their my Social Security account have access to additional personalized services. They can request a replacement Social Security card online if they meet certain requirements. If they already receive Social Security benefits, they can start or change direct deposit online, request a replacement SSA-1099, and if they need proof of their benefits, they can print or download a current Benefit Verification Letter from their account.

People not yet receiving benefits can use their online account to get a personalized Social Security Statement, which provides their earnings information as well as estimates of their future benefits. The portal also includes a retirement calculator and links to information about other online services, such as applications for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits.

Many Social Security services are also conveniently available by dialing toll-free, 1-800-772-1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call Social Security’s TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

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How To Create Your Own ‘My Social Security’ Account Online

Social Security wants to help you get the services you need as quickly and safely as possible. Your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount is your gateway to doing business with our agency online.

Whether you receive benefits now or in the future, you will want to create your personal my Social Security account or use the one you may already have. More than 65 million people already have an account!

Did you know you can use your personal my Social Security account to accomplish many tasks? You can check the status of your application or appeal, verify your earnings, estimate future benefits, or manage the benefits you already receive. At this time, individuals having a valid and unexpired driver’s license or government identification card issued by Washington, D.C. or 46 participating states can also request a replacement social security card online. Watch our brief video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hjJqUAFSXI about the benefits of having an account.

We are committed to protecting your information and benefits and take this responsibility seriously. That’s why we ask for personal information to verify your identity to create a personal my Social Security account. We work with external partners to securely verify your identity. We do this to protect your data while making our online services easy for you to use.

· Ready to sign up? You can now create your new my Social Security account through either of these two credential partners: Login.gov or ID.me.

· Login.gov is the public’s one account for simple, secure, and private access to participating U.S. government agencies.

· ID.me is a single sign-on provider that meets the U.S. government’s online identity proofing and authentication requirements.

A credential includes your username, password, and two-step verification factors. A trusted credential partner helps us securely verify your identity online.

Here is a brief list of some things you need to know when creating or accessing your personal my Social Security account.

1. I have never accessed my Social Security, and I do not have a Login.gov or ID.me credential: Visit the my Social Security webpage at www.ssa.gov/myaccount to get started. You will have the option to create an account with your preferred credential partner, Login.gov or ID.me. Keep in mind:

· You must be 18 years of age or older and have a social security number.

· You will be redirected to the partner’s website when you select “Sign in with Login.gov” or “Sign in with ID.me.”

· You must provide a valid email address and some additional information.

· Once you create the credential, you’ll return to the my Social Security webpage for the next steps.

2. I have never accessed my Social Security, but I already have a Login.gov or ID.me credential:

You can sign in with your credential on the my Social Security webpage at www.ssa.gov/myaccount and follow the prompts.

3. I have accessed my Social Security with a Social Security username and password that I created before September 18, 2021:

You should still sign in using your Social Security username and password. This is the first option on the Sign In screen secure.ssa.gov/RIL/SiView.action.

4. I have accessed my Social Security using my existing Login.gov or ID.me credential:

You can sign in to my Social Security using either Login.gov or ID.me credential.

Please encourage your friends and family to create their personal my Social Security account today at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Security offices could not receive visitors except for previously arranged appointments. However, we continue providing our services by phone and internet. If you have questions on Social Security benefits and services, please access www.socialsecurity.gov.

You could also access our automated services at 1-800-772-1213 or call your local Social Security office Monday to Friday from 9:00AM to 4:00PM. To locate the telephone number of your local field office, please input your residential zip code at www.ssa.gov/locator/

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What Every Woman Should Know About Social Security During Women’s History Month

Each March, we celebrate Women’s History Month. It is a time to reflect on the achievements of women. Social Security has served a vital role in the lives of women for more than 85 years.

Women have longer average life expectancies than men, which means they live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. It’s important for women to plan early and wisely for retirement.

Our retirement pages at www.ssa.gov/retirement provide detailed information about how life events can affect a woman’s Social Security retirement benefits. These events may include marriage, widowhood, divorce, self-employment, government service, and other life or career changes.

Your earnings history will determine your future benefits, so we encourage you to verify that the information we have is correct. You can create your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount and review your earnings history.

If you find an error in your earnings record, it is important to get it corrected so you receive the benefits you earned when you retire. Our publication, How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10081.pdf, provides you with details on how to make a correction. You also can view your Social Security Statement on your my Social Security account, for estimates of future benefits and other important planning information.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help women plan for retirement, check out our online booklet, Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know. You can find it at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10127.pdf. Please share this information with family and friends.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Security offices could not receive visitors except for previously arranged appointments on special limited critical situations. However, we continue providing our services by phone and internet. If you have questions on Social Security benefits and services, please access www.socialsecurity.gov.

You could also access our automated services at 1-800-772-1213 or call your local Social Security office Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. To locate the telephone number of your local field office, please input your residential zip code at www.ssa.gov/locator/ .