Saturday, May 26, 2001

Web a way to apply for Social Security


Request can be made from home

By Ray Schaefer and Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        FLORENCE — It's now possible to file for Social Security retirement benefits after retiring to your couch.

        June Crawford, a field representative in the Florence office of the Social Security Administration, said people can file applications electronically within four months of their 62nd birthday.

        “The advantage with online is that you can be at home,” Ms. Crawford said.

        The service works for single people or married couples, and spouses can apply for each other's benefits.

[photo] June Crawford, field representative for the Florence office of the Social Security Administration, displays the online application.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Here's what to do:

        • Reach the Social Security Administration's Web site, www.ssa.gov, and click on the application article. You must have an IBM-compatible computer; Macintosh and WebTV versions are still being developed.

        • Follow the cues and print the completed application.

        • Sign and either mail the form or turn it in at one of five Tristate offices.

        The online service started last October. There are three prerequisites: residency in the United States or its territories; agreement to have benefits deposited directly to a bank account; and no convictions of crimes against the United States, such as espionage or treason.

        Ms. Crawford said the online service has one drawback: It works only for retirement benefits. Applications for other benefit programs — survivors', Medicare and disability — must still be handled in person.

        Bob Mendenhall, district manager at the downtown Social Security office on Main Street, said Thursday it may be possible to apply online for survivor benefits for widows and widowers within a year.

        He said Medicare and disability may take longer because more detailed information is required.

        “A lot of the disability questions have multiple answers,” Mr. Mendenhall said.

        Ms. Crawford said a completed application takes about four months to process. She said the service does not replace applying at an office or over the telephone.

        “Many people still prefer to do things face-to-face,” she said.
       

       



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- Web a way to apply for Social Security
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