Anxious about Social Security?

Monday - 9/19/2011, 9:42pm EDT

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By Andrew Mitchell
Federal News Radio

Anxious about Social Security? Don't be, because information is power.

That's the message from Lester Austin, senior public affairs specialist at the Social Security Administration, who joined For Your Benefit co-hosts Bob Leins and John Elliott this week.

Austin said that the best place to get that information is online, at www.socialsecurity.gov.

"Click on it, stick on it and scroll through it," Austin said.

The Social Security representative also told Leins and Elliott that there are several calculators on the website that allow you to estimate how much you will receive in benefits under a variety of scenarios.

This is particularly important, Austin explained, since the Social Security Administration stopped sending out printed estimates to all benefits-eligible Americans in April of this year as a result of government budget cutbacks.

The agency had been mailing out such statements once a year to all eligible persons.

Austin urged people to keep the last printed statement they ever received for future reference in visiting the Social Security website.

The Social Security Administration also has a toll-free number for inquiries concerning benefits: 800-772-1213.

Austin also called on people to make all application for benefits online, as opposed to in person at a Social Security office.

"When a person goes online to file," Austin said, "we're mandated to put that application in the next morning."

And if you missed a question on your application, assured Austin, you will get a phone call from the agency about it the very next day.

For Your Benefit is heard live Monday mornings at 10:00 on Federal News Radio.

Email us or call the show live at 202-465-3080 to have your questions answered by the experts.