While the baby boom era is behind us, the effects will live on. The number of people reaching the autumn season of life is higher than ever. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that there are around six hundred million people aged 60 and older living in the world today. That number is expected to double by 2025 — a short 12 years from now — and is expected to reach about two billion by 2050.
In the United States, 10,000 people reach retirement age every single day.
The elders of a community are often known as wise sages that younger people go to for advice; older people have the life experience and reflection that younger people lack. But given the fast-paced changes the world now experiences, with new technologies becoming outdated in a matter of years or even months, there may be some helpful insights you can share with your elders.
For example, if you know someone who is nearing retirement age, tell them about www.socialsecurity.gov. They may not be aware of the helpful and easy-to-use tools available to them. It’s no exaggeration to say that even someone who does not use the Internet on a regular basis can easily plan their retirement or even complete their retirement application online in a matter of minutes — much less time than it would take to drive to a local Social Security office.
The best starting place for anyone thinking about retirement is Social Security’s Retirement Estimator. Use it to get an instant, personalized estimate of future retirement benefits in a matter of minutes. Spend a few more minutes plugging in different information, such as different projected future wages and different retirement dates, to help make a wise decision on the best retirement date. The Retirement Estimator is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.
Then there’s the online retirement benefit application. In as little as 15 minutes, a person can apply for Social Security benefits and submit their application online. In most cases, once one submits the application, there is nothing more to do but wait for the first payment. It’s really that simple. And, if one decides they’d like to double-check some information before submitting the application, that’s fine too. The application can be paused and then restarted at any time during the process. It’s all available at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.
It makes sense to go to our elders for advice and guidance. But in this technology-driven world, we may be able to offer a little advice to the sages as well. A good bet is to tell the older adults in your life about www.socialsecurity.gov.
(Elizabeth Gildea is Social Security Manager in Ames.)