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You’ve just stepped into... 'the retirement zone'

You are about to enter another dimension...a dimension not only of work and earnings, but of pension and leisure...a journey into a wondrous land of imagination. You unlock this door with the Social Security Administration’s retirement estimator and online benefit application. Next stop … the retirement zone.

That’s not exactly sticking to the original script, but some television viewers may be hearing the voice of Rod Serling ringing in their heads right now. Like “The Twilight Zone” television program, retirement can consist of amazing journeys, featuring characters that faced unusual or extraordinary circumstances.

If you’re nearing retirement now, it may seem an extraordinary circumstance that these days you really can do it all from the comfort of your home or office computer. Amazing but true: you can do so much online, including getting an estimate of future benefits, testing out different retirement scenarios, completing and submitting your retirement application online and much more.

Picture a man. A man sitting at his home computer. He isn’t sure whether he should apply now, wait until he reaches full retirement age, or work a little longer and begin receiving benefits at age 70. He’s about to find out...with a visit to the retirement estimator. The application uses past earnings and allows individuals to enter variable future earnings and retirement dates to complete the picture of a retirement citizens would like to live.

Imagine a woman. A woman with a laptop enjoying a hot cup of java at her favorite coffee house. She’s done with planning and has decided it’s time to take the plunge and retire. Before going to a local Social Security office as her parents and older siblings did, she visits www.socialsecurity.gov and discovers she can complete the entire application online and submit it in about 15 minutes. As in most cases, there are no papers to sign and no documents to provide.

Back when "The Twilight Zone" first hit television screens, the idea of testing out retirement scenarios or even completing and submitting a retirement application online would have been science fiction fodder fit for an episode of the program. Today, it is reality.

To try out this new feature, visit www.socialsecurity.gov and take a visit into ... the retirement zone.

-Ed Evans is a Social Security Affairs specialist working at the Seattle office of the administration.

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