If you receive a benefit verification letter, sometimes called a “budget letter,” a “benefits letter,” a “proof of income letter,” or a “proof of award letter,” we have good news for you.
A new standardized benefit verification letter is now available when you need proof of Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or Medicare.
In addition to name, date of birth and the benefits received, the new benefit verification letter includes other identifiers to prevent misuse and fraud. This is an added benefit to you as proof of income for loans, housing assistance, mortgage, and other verification purposes.
The same standardized letter is also available if you need proof that you do not receive benefits, or proof that benefits are pending. If you are an individual representative payee, you can use the my Social Security Representative Payee portal to access the same standardized benefit verification letter online for your beneficiaries.
This new standardized benefit verification letter is another example of our commitment to improve our service to you.
No matter how you request your letter, whether calling our National 800 Number, your local office, the Interactive Voice Response system, or online with your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount, the benefit verification letter now contains a seamless look.
Increase on the way
Nearly 70 million Americans will see a 1.3% increase in their Social Security benefits and SSI payments in 2021. Federal benefit rates increase when the cost of living risesas measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).
The CPI-W rises when inflation increases, leading to a higher cost of living. This change means prices for goods and services, on average, are a little more expensive, so the COLA helps to offset these costs.
January 2021 marks other changes that will happen based on the increase in the national average wage index. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax in 2021 will be higher. The retirement earnings test exempt amount will also change in 2021. You can read our press release for more information at www.ssa.gov in the news section.
We will mail COLA notices throughout the month of December to retirement, survivors and disability beneficiaries, SSI recipients and representative payees.
Want to know your new benefit amount sooner? You can securely view and save the Social Security COLA notice online via the Message Center inside my Social Security in early December without waiting for the mailed notice.
My Social Security account holders can opt out of receiving a mailed COLA notice and other paper notices that are available online. You can choose text or email alerts when there is a notice in Message Center by updating your Preferences at www.ssa.gov/myaccount/opt-out.html so you always know when we have something important for you.
Be the first to know — sign up for or log in to your personal account today at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Choose email or text under “Message Center Preferences” to receive courtesy notifications. This way you won’t miss your online COLA notice.
You can find more information about the 2021 COLA at www.ssa.gov/cola.
Top 10 webpages
Our online services often allow you to do business with us without visiting a local office or calling. Here are our top 10 webpages of 2020:
• Open your own personal my Social Security account, where you can verify your earnings, get future benefit estimates, obtain benefit verification letters, update your Social Security information if you receive benefits, and more, at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. We continue to add new features to make doing business with us easier than ever.
• Need answers to your Social Security related questions? Our Frequently Asked Questions page is the authoritative source at www.ssa.gov/faq.
• Our hub for Social Security news and updates is our blog at blog.socialsecurity.gov. You can use social media to easily share these informative articles with friends and family.
• You can complete and submit our online application for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes at www.ssa.gov/retirement.
• You can conveniently apply for disability benefits online at www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability.
• Access our publication library — we have online booklets and pamphlets (including audio versions) on key subjects at www.ssa.gov/pubs.
• You can learn everything you need to know about Medicare at our dedicated page at www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare.
• There’s no need to call or visit a local office when you use our online services page at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices.
• There are times when you may need to fill out a form and submit it to us. You can find what you need easily at www.ssa.gov/forms.
• Reporting Social Security fraud is a key part of preventing it. You can help stop scammers at www.ssa.gov/antifraudfacts.
We care about giving you easy access to the information you need from us. Please feel free to share these pages with your friends and family.
Chris Burke is a Social Security district manager based in Glendale.