Help your Valentine plan for retirement

Social Security Q&A

There are traditional ways to show your love on Valentine’s Day. You can buy a card that expresses your true feelings and give it to someone you care about. There are also heart-shaped boxes of assorted chocolates and bouquets of roses.

A powerful and lasting way to express your love is to show that you care about a family member or friend’s future. Everyone you love probably wants to enjoy retirement once they decide to stop working. Preparing for that future takes planning and careful thought about when and how you want to do it.

Social Security is a safety net that keeps millions of elderly Americans out of poverty. At we have valuable resources that you can access 24 hours a day from the comfort of your home. There, you can:

• Keep track of your earnings and verify them every year;

• Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working;

• Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them; and

• Manage your benefits: Change your address; start or change your direct deposit; get a replacement Medicare card; and get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season.

Showing your love might also take the form of letting a family member know when a realistic retirement date might be. Our online Estimator offers an instant and tailored estimate of your future Social Security benefits based on your earnings record. You can plug in different anticipated yearly earnings to discover different retirement options and learn how your benefits could increase if you work longer. Give the Retirement Estimator a try today at

As you can see, love comes in many forms. Helping someone prepare for retirement will improve the overall quality of their life for years. Spread the love, and let everyone know that Social Security is available 24 hours a day at

Social Security Q&A

Question: I was told I shouldn’t be carrying my Social Security card around. Is that true?

Answer: We encourage you to keep your Social Security card at home in a safe place. Don’t carry it with you. Even if you’re going to a new job or to meet someone who needs it, all they really need is your number—not your card. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, and the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to safeguard your card and number. To learn more, visit our Social Security number and card page at

Question: My husband and I are both entitled to our own Social Security benefits. Will our combined benefits be reduced because we are married?

Answer: No. When each member of a married couple works in employment covered under Social Security and both meet all other eligibility requirements to receive retirement benefits, lifetime earnings are calculated independently to determine the benefit amounts. Therefore, each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. If one member of the couple earned substantially less than the other or did not earn enough Social Security credits (40) to be insured for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse. To learn more, visit

Question: What is full retirement age?

Answer: Full retirement age is the age at which a person may first become entitled to full or unreduced retirement benefits. Your full retirement age depends on your date of birth. For people born before 1938, it’s 65. For those born after 1959, it’s 67. If your birthday falls between 1938 and 1959, your full retirement age is between 65 and 67. (The age for Medicare eligibility is 65, regardless of when you were born.) For more information, go to

Robin Schmidt is a Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for Alaska.