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Retirement
Get Social Security online
November 16, 2000: 11:19 a.m. ET

SSA, now 65 years old, adapts to an increasingly tech-savvy public
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The Social Security Administration announced that as of November, the public can apply for retirement benefits online through the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Web site.

The 65-year old administration is attempting to adapt itself to the demands of a changing consumer base, particularly the 76 million strong tech-savvy baby-boomer generation, a number of whom will be retiring this decade.

According to a study by Jupiter Communications, 14 million Americans age 50 and older are online and that number is expected to double in the next few years.

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  We recognize that the Internet is not for everyone. We'll always be there for our customers who wish to be served on the telephone or face-to-face in our offices.  
     
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  William A. Halter
Deputy Commissioner
 
"We are always looking for ways to improve service to our customers," said Deputy Commissioner of Social Security William A. Halter. "Giving our customers more opportunities to conduct business over the Internet will reduce costs and make our services more accessible to the public, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. But privacy is also a high priority and we only make new online services available when we are confident that the public's privacy is guaranteed."

The applicant can fill out the online application and send the information electronically to the agency. The applicant must then print out a copy of the completed application form, sign it, and mail it or bring it to the address provided by Social Security.

Along with the signed form, SSA also needs certain documents -- such as a person's birth certificate -- to establish eligibility for Social Security benefits. These items can either be mailed or brought to the office. The electronic application will be stored on a database and automatically retrieved when Social Security receives the applicant's signed application.

To take advantage of the Internet retirement benefit application, an individual must meet certain requirements. For example, you must be at least 61 years and nine months or older and plan to start receiving benefits within four months.

However, standard services are still available. A person can call SSA's national toll-free number at 800-772-1213 to schedule a phone interview or a face-to-face interview.

SSA also offers immediate service for benefit claims when an individual visits one of Social Security's 1,300 field offices. SSA processes approximately 1.9 million retirement claims annually.

"We recognize that the Internet is not for everyone," Halter said. "We'll always be there for our customers who wish to be served on the telephone or face-to-face in our offices." graphic

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