Benefit Verification Letters On-Line

Verifying your clients’ Social Security benefits is easy! We will show you just how easy it is, in a webinar entitled: “Benefit Verification Letters Online, Easy as 1-2-3”. This webinar is designed for advocates, social service agencies, and other third parties to help promote the use of Social Security’s online service options.

Additionally, the webinar will provide information on:

The webinar was previously recorded on January 9, 2014.

Transcript

HI, I'M YESENIA FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION. IF YOU ARE VIEWING THIS PRESENTATION DURING THE LIVE BROADCAST, YOU MAY SUBMIT ANY QUESTIONS YOU HAVE AT ANY POINT BY CLICKING THE ICON OF THE SPEECH BUBBLE THAT IS LOCATED DIRECTLY ABOVE THE VIDEO WINDOW. THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION IS COMMITTED TO PROVIDING OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO OVER 62 MILLION BENEFICIARIES. AS YOU ARE PROBABLY AWARE, MORE AND MORE BUSINESS IN OUR SOCIETY IS MOVING TO ONLINE CHANNELS. WE WOULD EVEN IMAGINE THAT MOST OF YOU DO SOME OF YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS ONLINE, LIKE LOOKING UP INFORMATION, SHOPPING, AND BANKING.

OUR AGENCY HAS A STRONG COMMITMENT TO PROVIDING A ROBUST SUITE OF ONLINE SERVICE OPTIONS TO HELP YOU AND YOUR CLIENTS COMPLETE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BUSINESS SECURELY AND CONVENIENTLY. TO HELP GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT ALL THE SERVICES AVAILABLE AT WWW.SOCIALSECURITY.GOV, WE WOULD LIKE TO PARTNER WITH YOU, ADVOCATES, SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES, AND OTHER THIRD PARTIES TO HELP PROMOTE THE USE OF OUR ONLINE SERVICES. THIS PARTNERSHIP BENEFITS ALL OF US: SOCIAL SECURITY, YOU, AND, MOST OF ALL, THOSE WE SERVE. ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ONLINE SERVICES WE OFFER IS THE ONLINE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER. WHEN YOUR CLIENTS NEED PROOF OF THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY, SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME, OR MEDICARE BENEFITS, WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO LET THEM KNOW THEY CAN GET A BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER ONLINE INSTANTLY WITH A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT. THEY CAN GET THEIR CURRENT INFORMATION ONLINE FROM ANY COMPUTER AND EVEN THEIR TABLET OR SMART PHONE.

BEFORE YOUR CLIENTS CAN REQUEST THEIR INSTANT BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER ONLINE, THOUGH, THEY WILL NEED TO ESTABLISH A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT. ESTABLISHING AN ACCOUNT IS A SECURITY REQUIREMENT, BUT IT ONLY NEEDS TO BE DONE ONCE. YOUR CLIENTS WITH A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT CAN GET THEIR BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER AS OFTEN AS THEY NEED TO AND WHEN CONVENIENT FOR THEM. NO LONG LINES IN A SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE, NO WAITING TO BE HELPED BY PHONE.

INSTEAD OF WAITING TO GET THE LETTER TO COME IN THE MAIL, YOUR CLIENTS WILL IMMEDIATELY SEE IT AND BE ABLE TO PRINT THE LETTER. THAT'S EASY AND FAST. HOWEVER, YOUR CLIENTS MAY BE UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO CREATE AN ACCOUNT IF THEY: BLOCKED ELECTRONIC ACCESS TO THEIR PERSONAL INFORMATION WITH US; RECENTLY MOVED OR CHANGED THEIR NAME; PLACED A FREEZE ON THEIR CREDIT REPORT; HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OR IDENTITY THEFT; OR, ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH OR UNABLE TO USE THE ONLINE PROCESS FOR SOME OTHER REASON. IN THESE CASES, THEY STILL MAY CREATE AN ACCOUNT IN PERSON BY VISITING THE LOCAL SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE.

THERE ARE FOUR EASY STEPS TO ESTABLISHING A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT. STEP ONE: VISIT WWW.SOCIALSECURITY.GOV/MYACCOUNT AND SELECT SIGN IN OR CREATE AN ACCOUNT. STEP TWO: SELECT "CREATE AN ACCOUNT" TO CREATE A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT. YOUR CLIENT MUST BE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD AND HAVE: A VALID E-MAIL ADDRESS; A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER; AND A U.S. MAILING ADDRESS. IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT A PERSON MAY ONLY CREATE AN ACCOUNT TO GAIN ACCESS TO ONE'S OWN PERSONAL INFORMATION. YOU CANNOT USE THIS ONLINE SERVICE TO ACCESS THE RECORDS OF ANOTHER PERSON WITH WHOM YOU HAVE A BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP, FOR WHOM YOU ARE A REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE, OR FOR WHOM YOU ARE AN APPOINTED REPRESENTATIVE. STEP THREE: YOUR CLIENT WILL NEED TO PROVIDE SOME PERSONAL INFORMATION TO VERIFY IDENTITY. STEP FOUR: CHOOSE A USERNAME AND A PASSWORD TO CREATE THE ACCOUNT. TO GET THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER, ALL YOUR CLIENT NEEDS TO DO IS SIGN IN WITH THE ACCOUNT AND SELECT "GET A BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER." THE LETTER WILL BE DISPLAYED AND MAY BE PRINTED OR SAVED FOR LATER USE. IF YOUR CLIENT DOESN'T HAVE A PRINTER, YOUR CLIENT CAN REQUEST THAT THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER BE MAILED. HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER.

THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION: NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE CLIENT; THE LAST FOUR DIGITS OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY CLAIM NUMBER; INFORMATION ABOUT CURRENT AND PAST BENEFITS, INCLUDING THE PAYMENT AMOUNT, WHEN BENEFITS BEGAN, ANY DEDUCTION AMOUNTS, AND WHEN PAYMENTS ARE MADE EACH MONTH; DATE OF BIRTH; AND MEDICARE HOSPITAL AND MEDICARE INSURANCE START DATES. YOU MAY KNOW THESE AS MEDICARE PART A AND PART B. AS YOU CAN SEE, CREATING A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT IS VERY EASY, AND YOUR CLIENTS CAN USE THEIR ACCOUNT TO GET IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO THEIR OFFICIAL BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER. NO LONG LINES IN AN OFFICE OR WAITING BY THE MAILBOX TO GET A LETTER THAT MOST PEOPLE NEED RIGHT AWAY. GETTING THE LETTER INSTANTLY ONLINE WITH A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT IS FAST, SECURE, AND OF COURSE, CONVENIENT. WE NEED YOU TO HELP SPREAD THE WORD TO YOUR CLIENTS ABOUT THIS GREAT ONLINE SERVICE.

THE MY SOCIAL SECURITY WEBSITE AT WWW.SOCIALSECURITY.GOV/MYACCOUNT INCLUDES VALUABLE INFORMATION. WE ALSO HAVE A FACT SHEET YOUR CLIENTS CAN FOLLOW TO CREATE THEIR OWN ACCOUNT. YOU CAN FIND OUR "HOW TO CREATE AN ONLINE ACCOUNT" FACT SHEET ON OUR PUBLICATIONS WEBSITE AT WWW.SOCIALSECURITY.GOV/PUBS. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SHARING WITH YOU NEWS OF ADDITIONAL SERVICES AS WE MAKE THEM AVAILABLE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION. BEFORE WE OPEN THE FLOOR TO QUESTIONS, I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE JACKIE RUIZ WHO WILL ASSIST ME IN ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY. SO WE'LL GO AHEAD AND START WITH OUR FIRST QUESTION. AND OUR FIRST QUESTION CAME IN AND IT IS: WHAT IF I NEED A CLIENT OR CUSTOMER'S BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER? AS A REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE, ATTORNEY REPRESENTATIVE, OR FAMILY MEMBER, CAN I GET A BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER FOR SOMEONE ELSE? AND THE ANSWER IS NO. UNFORTUNATELY, THE MY SOCIAL SECURITY PORTAL IS FOR THE INDIVIDUAL. EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE THE REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE, AND YOU ARE THERE TO HELP ASSIST THE PERSON, YOU CAN HELP THE PERSON THROUGH THE PORTAL. BUT YOU CANNOT LOG ON AS THE PERSON AND REQUEST THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER FOR THE INDIVIDUAL. THE INDIVIDUAL WILL HAVE TO LOG ON AND REQUEST HIS OR HER OWN BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER. THAT WAS GOOD, JACKIE.

THAT WAS A GOOD QUESTION. WE'LL GO AHEAD AND GO TO OUR SECOND QUESTION. AND THE QUESTION IS, WHAT IF MY CLIENT OR CUSTOMER IS HAVING DIFFICULTIES CREATING A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT? THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. IF FOR SOME REASON ONE OF YOUR CLIENTS OR YOUR CUSTOMERS IS HAVING DIFFICULTY CREATING AN ACCOUNT, OR THEY CONTINUE TO RECEIVE SOME SORT OF MESSAGE THAT PREVENTS THEM FROM CREATING A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT, CHANCES ARE THEY ARE PROBABLY GOING TO HAVE TO VISIT A LOCAL FIELD OFFICE. AND WE HAVE DONE THIS TO PROTECT OUR CUSTOMERS FROM IDENTITY THEFT. SO WE HAVE INSTITUTED MEASURES THAT SOMETIMES AND AT TIMES WILL PREVENT USERS FROM CREATING A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT, AND THAT IS AS DESIGNED. SO IF YOU RECEIVE A CUSTOMER THAT COMPLAINS ABOUT HAVING DIFFICULTY CREATING AN ACCOUNT, YOU MIGHT WANT TO ROUTE THEM TO A LOCAL OFFICE TO GET ASSISTANCE. GREAT. WE HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION THAT HAS COME IN, AND IT SAYS: CAN I REQUEST A CUSTOMER VERIFICATION LETTER BY CALLING THE 800 NUMBER? AND IT DEPENDS.

IF YOU ARE THE REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE FOR THAT INDIVIDUAL, YES. YOU CAN GO AHEAD AND YOU CAN CALL THE 1-800 NUMBER, AND, OF COURSE, THEY WILL GO AHEAD AND MAIL YOU A BENEFIT VERIFICATION NOTICE. HOWEVER, THE METHOD THAT IS, OF COURSE, THE MOST, YOU KNOW, EXPEDIENT IS USING THE MY SOCIAL SECURITY PORTAL. SO IF YOU NEED A BENEFIT VERIFICATION NOTICE IMMEDIATELY, WHAT WE WOULD RECOMMEND IS FOR YOU TO ASSIST THE INDIVIDUAL TO CREATE A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT, AND HAVE THAT INDIVIDUAL GO AHEAD AND SELECT A BENEFIT VERIFICATION NOTICE RIGHT ON THE MY SOCIAL SECURITY PORTAL AND EITHER SAVE/PRINT THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION NOTICE FOR HIM OR HER TO UTILIZE IT RIGHT THEN AND THERE. OKAY. WE'LL GO AHEAD AND MOVE ON TO OUR NEXT QUESTION. AND THE QUESTION GOES: WHAT OTHER OPTIONS WILL MY CLIENT HAVE THROUGH THE MY SOCIAL SECURITY PORTAL ASIDE FROM INSTANTLY VIEWING AND PRINTING THEIR BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER? THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. SO YOUR CLIENTS CAN ACCESS THEIR BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER, THEY WILL VIEW IT AND HAVE ACCESS TO PRINTING IT. BUT IN ADDITION TO THAT, THEY'LL HAVE AN ADDITIONAL TWO OPTIONS. YOUR CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS CAN SAVE THEIR BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER TO THEIR CURRENT, TO THEIR OWN COMPUTER OR THEY CAN HAVE IT REQUESTED -- OR THEY CAN REQUEST TO HAVE IT MAILED. IF YOUR CLIENT SELECTS THE SAVE OPTION, THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER IS SAVED TO THEIR CURRENT COMPUTER.

SO AT THEIR DISCRETION, IF THEY WANTED TO, FOR INSTANCE, THEY COULD EMAIL IT TO WHOEVER IS REQUESTING IT. NOW, ONE IMPORTANT THING TO MENTION ABOUT THE MAIL OPTION, IS THAT IF THEY REQUEST TO HAVE IT MAILED THROUGH MY SOCIAL SECURITY, IT IS GOING TO TAKE THREE TO FIVE BUSINESS DAYS AND THE LETTER WILL COME TO THE ADDRESS OF RECORD. SO IT WON'T COME DIRECTLY TO YOU SAY, FOR INSTANCE, IF YOU ARE REQUESTING IT. SO IF THEY HAVE A REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE, IT WILL GO TO THE REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE'S ADDRESS. IF THEY DON'T HAVE A REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE, IT WILL GO TO THEIR OWN ADDRESS. WE'LL GO AHEAD AND MOVE ON TO OUR NEXT QUESTION. ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO REQUESTING A LETTER ASIDE FROM THE ONLINE PROCESS? NOW, THIS IS A VERY GOOD QUESTION. CURRENTLY, OUR BENEFICIARIES AND RECIPIENTS CAN REQUEST A BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER ONLINE, BY CALLING, OR OF COURSE BY COMING INTO THE FIELD OFFICE. WE ARE TRYING TO INTRODUCE A NEW PROCESS THAT LATER THIS YEAR WILL PREVENT INDIVIDUALS FROM REQUESTING A BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER IN THE FIELD OFFICE. SO THAT'S WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP SO THAT WE CAN PARTNER TOGETHER AND PROMOTE ONLINE SERVICES. SO ALTHOUGH RIGHT NOW THEY CAN REQUEST A BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER IN THE OFFICE, THEY CAN ALSO GET ONE OVER THE 800 NUMBER, ONLINE, BUT SHORTLY WE DON'T HAVE A SPECIFIC TIME FRAME YET, IT WILL BE SOMETHING THAT WE WILL NO LONGER OFFER IN THE OFFICE. BUT RIGHT NOW THEY CAN ACCESS IT THERE, YES. GREAT. SO NOW THIS QUESTION CAME IN, AND I THINK IT IS A REALLY GOOD QUESTION. IT SAYS, MY CLIENT DOES NOT HAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS AVAILABLE DURING THE REGISTRATION PROCESS. AND CAN I USE MY EMAIL ACCOUNT? AND THE ANSWER IS, UNFORTUNATELY, NO. WE CAN'T HAVE YOU UTILIZING YOUR OWN EMAIL ADDRESS FOR YOUR CLIENT. HOWEVER WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND IS, YOU KNOW, THERE ARE SERVICES OUT THERE, AND I WON'T MENTION ANY SPECIFIC SERVICE. BUT THERE ARE MANY, YOU KNOW, SERVICES OUT THERE THAT YOU CAN CREATE AN EMAIL ACCOUNT FOR FREE, AND THAT, THAT CLIENT CAN HAVE THAT EMAIL ACCOUNT BELONG TO THEM, AND THEY CAN ACCESS, YOU KNOW, ALL OF THAT INFORMATION. BUT DUE TO PRIVACY ISSUES AND FRAUD, THE EMAIL ACCOUNT HAS TO BELONG TO THE INDIVIDUAL. SO WE DO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE OUT THERE TRYING TO HELP PEOPLE, AND ADVOCATE FOR THEM AND SO FORTH. BUT THE EMAIL ACCOUNT HAS TO BELONG TO THE INDIVIDUAL. THANK YOU FOR THAT QUESTION. THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. WE'LL GO AHEAD AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT ONE. HOW MANY SERVICES DOES SOCIAL SECURITY OFFER VIA THE INTERNET? AND THAT IS DEFINITELY A GOOD QUESTION. THERE'S MULTIPLE SERVICES THAT SOCIAL SECURITY OFFERS ONLINE.

PEOPLE WHO REGISTER FOR A MY SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT, FOR INSTANCE, CAN REQUEST THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY ONLINE STATEMENT, SOME OF OUR BENEFICIARIES CAN ALSO CHANGE THEIR ADDRESS, UPDATE THEIR DIRECT DEPOSIT, BUT AGAIN ONLY AVAILABLE FOR THAT FIRST PARTY INDIVIDUAL. SO REPRESENTATIVE PAYEES CANNOT DO THAT FOR THEM VIA THE ONLINE METHOD. THEY CAN REQUEST A BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER, THEY CAN CHECK STATUS OF THEIR BENEFIT INFORMATION WITHOUT NECESSARILY ACCESSING IT THROUGH THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER. SO THERE ARE MULTIPLE SERVICES THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS CAN ACCESS THROUGH THE MY SOCIAL SECURITY PORTAL. BUT FOR SPECIFIC INFORMATION AS TO WHO CAN ACCESS WHAT, GO AHEAD AND VISIT US AT WWW.SSA.GOV. GREAT. AND WE HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION HERE. IT SAYS, CAN YOU AS A CUSTOMER -- EXCUSE ME -- CUSTOMIZE THE INFORMATION DISPLAYED ON THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER? AND YES, YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER. IT AUTOMATICALLY DEFAULTS TO CERTAIN ELEMENTS ALREADY, AS FAR AS, YOU KNOW, WHAT SORT OF BENEFITS YOU RECEIVE, THE BENEFIT AMOUNT, AND SO FORTH. BUT YOU CAN GO AHEAD AND MARK OFF THE, THE INFORMATION THAT YOU EITHER NEED OR DO NOT NEED.

SO, FOR EXAMPLE, LET'S SAY THAT THE INDIVIDUAL NEEDS THE LETTER FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES. AND ALL YOU REALLY NEED IS THE NAME AND THE FACT THAT THE PERSON HAS MEDICARE COVERAGE. YOU CAN GO AHEAD AND YOU CAN CHECK OFF THE NAME AND THAT THE INDIVIDUAL HAS MEDICARE COVERAGE AND THE BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER CAN GO AHEAD AND BE PRINTED OUT WITH THAT INFORMATION ONLY. SO IT CAN BE CUSTOMIZED FOR THE NEED AT THE TIME. THANK YOU. OKAY. I WILL GO AHEAD AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT QUESTION. THE NEXT QUESTION IS, WHAT IF MY CLIENT DOES NOT HAVE A PERSONAL COMPUTER OR CANNOT ACCESS THEIR BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER? THE ANSWER TO THAT IS THEY CAN ALWAYS VISIT CURRENTLY THE FIELD OFFICE OR CALL OUR 800 NUMBER. IF THEY NEED THEIR BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTER RIGHT AWAY, HOWEVER, THE BEST THING TO DO IS ROUTE THEM TO OUR ONLINE CHANNEL SO THAT THEY CAN REQUEST IT INSTANTLY, POSSIBLY EVEN SAVE IT AND SEND IT ELECTRONICALLY, OF COURSE AT THEIR OWN DISCRETION. SO IT LOOKS LIKE WE ARE OUT OF TIME FOR ANY OTHER QUESTIONS. WE HOPE YOU FOUND THIS WEBINAR USEFUL. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY AND WE HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT DAY. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

Presenter

Deputy Division Director, Office of Electronic Services and Technology/Division of Programmatic Applications