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Be of service this Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 16 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On this day, we celebrate the birthday of the civil rights leader and nonviolent activist.

To many people, the holiday is more than an observance of an American hero. It is a day of service.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve others.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.

The employees of Social Security encourage people everywhere to be of service to someone this Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A great way to do that is by helping someone you know who may need assistance applying for Social Security, Medicare or extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs. Each task is easy to do at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Some people who need these benefits may not be comfortable with computers or may not even know applying online is an option.

They may put off the trip to a Social Security office for a number of reasons: inconvenience, wait time, transportation conflicts or not being comfortable in crowds.

But it’s easier than ever to apply for these benefits from the convenience of any computer at socialsecurity.gov.

For example, it’s easy to apply for retirement benefits at the website at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. It takes as little as 15 minutes from start to finish, and once the application is submitted electronically, in most cases, there is nothing more to do - no forms to sign and no documents to submit.

For people reaching age 65 who do not plan to apply for their Social Security retirement payments yet, but who do want to receive Medicare coverage it’s even easier to apply for Medicare only. The online application takes about 10 minutes to complete and is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly.

People who already have Social Security and Medicare coverage, but who have trouble paying for their prescription drugs, can apply for extra help online at socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.

And if you want to help someone who isn’t sure yet - who is thinking about retirement but doesn’t know whether to retire now or later - there’s a quick and easy way to get estimates of retirement benefit amounts based on various dates and situations. Just lead them to the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

This holiday, make your Martin Luther King Jr. Day a day of service to someone who can use your help. Lead them to socialsecurity.gov.

Online tasks that may be simple for you could make a world of difference to people who need assistance.

Ed Evans is a Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Seattle

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