The people's voice of reason

HOW WE PROTECT YOU FROM MISLEADING ADVERTISING AND COMMUNICATIONS

Social Security works with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to protect you from scams that use Social Security as bait. Section 1140 of the Social Security Act allows OIG to impose severe penalties against anyone who engages in misleading Social Security-related advertising or imposter communications. You can review Section 1140 at http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title11/1140.htm.

For example, the OIG may impose a penalty against anyone who:

• Mails misleading solicitations that appear to be from or authorized by Social Security.

• Operates an imposter internet website or social media account designed to look like it belongs to or is authorized by Social Security.

• Sends emails or text messages or makes telephone calls claiming to be from Social Security.

• Sells Social Security’s free forms, applications, and publications without our written approval.

• Charges a fee for a service that Social Security provides free of charge without providing a clearly visible notice that Social Security provides the service for free.

If you receive a misleading or suspicious Social Security-related advertisement or imposter communication, please let us know immediately. Try to capture as much information about the communication as you can.

Here’s what you can do:

• For suspicious websites or social media accounts, please take a screenshot of the page. Please note the website address or social media link – and how you came across it.

• For emails and text messages, please capture the entire message and any message links.

• For U.S. mail solicitations, please retain the complete communication, including the outside envelope and all inserts.

• For telephone solicitations, please note the caller identification phone number and any company name or call back number that the caller or recorded message provides.

You can help us stop misleading advertising and communications. We encourage you to report potential scams to the OIG at oig.ssa.gov. You can also call our fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or send an email to OIG.1140@ssa.gov.

This information will help OIG locate the source of the suspicious solicitation or communication. You can also check out our publication, What You Need to Know About Misleading Advertising, at http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10005.pdf.

Please share this information with friends and family and help us spread the word on social media!

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Social Security Column For April 10, 2023

PLAN FOR YOUR FUTURE DURING FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH

By Kylle’ D. McKinney

Alabama Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

April is Financial Literacy Month. Social Security is a vital part of any financial plan. . Our online tools can help you understand your potential Social Security benefits and how they fit into your financial future.

You should periodically review your Social Security Statement (Statement) using your personal my Social Security account at http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Your Statement is an easy-to-read summary of the estimated benefits you and your family could receive, including potential retirement, disability, and survivors’ benefits.

Our Plan for Retirement tool in your personal my Social Security account allows you to check various benefit estimate scenarios. You can compare how different future earnings and retirement benefit start-dates might affect your future benefit amount.

Please tell your friends and family about the steps they can take to improve their financial knowledge by exploring their personal my Social Security account. If they don’t have an account, they can easily create one at http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

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Social Security Column For April 17, 2023

SOCIAL SECURITY’S PLAIN LANGUAGE MAKES THE GRADE

By Kylle’ D. McKinney

Alabama Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Social Security achieved the highest score of any federal government agency on the Center for Plain Language’s 2022 Federal Plain Language Report Card.

Our policies and programs can sometimes be complex and difficult to explain. That’s why we always strive to use plain language that is clear, easy to understand, and useful.

The Center evaluated 21 Executive Branch agencies, including all 15 cabinet-level departments, and graded each between an A+ and F- for writing quality and organizational compliance.

Social Security received an A+ for organizational compliance and an A for writing quality. This is an improvement over last year’s high scores of A+ and B.

“An excellent model to follow is the Social Security Administration’s ‘Contact Us’ page, the only one to earn an A+,” the Center said in its key findings.

“The web page is clear in its intended purpose to provide information readers seek,” the Center said. “The page has clear and concise language and the reader is addressed directly,” it noted.

The Center also cited “excellent use of links, colors, fonts, sizing, bolding, bullets, and imagery to highlight important information.”

In addition, the Center recognized our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request page as an excellent model for other agencies. The 2022 Plain Language Report Card was released on January 10, 2023, at http://www.centerforplainlanguage.org/2022-federal-plain-language-report-card.

To learn more about Social Security’s plain language efforts, please visit our Plain Writing page at http://www.ssa.gov/agency/plain-language.

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Social Security Column For April 24, 2023

PLAN YOUR RETIREMENT WITH SOCIAL SECURITY

By Kylle’ D. McKinney

Alabama Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Social Security benefits factor into the retirement plan of almost every American worker. If you are covered under Social Security, you should know how much you might receive in future benefits. These monthly payments are likely to be an important part of your retirement income.

We base your benefit payment on how much you earned during your working career. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. If there were some years you didn’t work or had low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily or had higher earnings. Even if you never worked and did not pay Social Security taxes, you may be eligible for benefits from a spouse’s record. You must be at least 62 years old, and your spouse must already be receiving retirement or disability benefits.

Our Retirement page at http://www.ssa.gov/retirement is a great place to start mapping out your retirement plan.

For example, have you considered:

· When is the right time for you to start receiving your retirement benefits?

· What documents you may need to provide Social Security for your retirement application?

· Which factors may affect your retirement benefits?

You can use your personal my Social Security account at http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount to get an instant estimate of your future retirement benefits. You can also see the effects of starting your retirement benefits at different ages.

You may also be wondering about:

· Benefits for a spouse or children.

· How work affects your benefits.

· If you will have to pay taxes on your benefits.

· Medicare.

You can learn more at http://www.ssa.gov/retirement. Please share this information with your loved ones to help them prepare for their retirement.

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