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Gold Conversationalist

New Features at "My Social Security"

Has anyone tried the new features at My Social Security at SSA.gov?

 

There are new features and tools, in two different categories, (1) login and security, and (2) new features for investigating your retirement benefits (pre- or post- retirement).

 

I was excited last week to see both sets of new features. Personally, I have found them not to be "ready for prime time".

 

I'll briefly run through some of the changes. Some of the new features or functions don't work correctly and they seem to be reworking these about every day.

 

Logging in now provides for 3 different options:

 

--the usual username and password,

 

--the ID.me third party application they introduced about 1-2 years ago,

 

--and they now provide for login using the "login.gov" site that is used for many other federal government sites, including those for Global Entry and PreChk, Fincen, etc.

 

The latter two sites provide much more rigorous identity verification during registration. Both are pretty restrictive about that the telephone number must be associated with the registrant's name...this will be a problem for some people, otherwise they will send the necessary "code" by postal mail if the phone is not accepted.

 

The latter two sites also provide for using a hardware security key (such as a Yubikey or Google Titan key) for log-in purposes, rather than receiving a code by text message or email. Myself, I prefer using a Yubikey versus waiting for, and entering, a code. But ID.me seem downright inconvenient to me (too many steps).

 

One "wrench" is it seems that all new My Social Security accounts must be created via ID.me or login.gov. Those who are already registered under the direct SSA method, with username and password, can continue to use those. I have and use both ID.me and login.gov accounts, but I suspect that many people will be very frustrated with creating and using these accounts.

 

It hasn't helped that in the several days that the new login procedures have been available they've been broken and need some work (at the SSA) to fix. At one point I couldn't log in at all using the Chrome browser, and only 2 of the 3 methods using the Edge browser, and only 1 method using the browser on my Android phone.

 

Regarding the new features: there are some tools to investigate in detail using Delayed Retirement Credits, though this tool is a bit broken...it provides the benefit with DRCs for only the first year of benefits, thus you'll see the "January rule" being applied and there won't be any variation in benefit with the month of claiming. There is a new tool to consider spousal benefits (on one's own account) but this implementation makes no sense to me.

 

In sum, it's a trial of frustration with the new site. More for me as I ponder almost daily whether to file now, or in a few months, or to wait until next Spring when I'm 70.

 

Try out the new site and let us know how it goes. :- )

Social Butterfly

.

@fffred  Recalling several years ago when SSA started requiring additional authentication beyond username and password to log into your account, they would only send you a code by text message. That created a lot of problems and complaints because not everyone had cell phones and text messaging.

 

It took a while (maybe a year) but SSA finally allowed recipients to receive an authentication code through an email address also to login.

 

Way to go SSA you’ve got Millennial’s programing software for technically challenged Social Security aged recipients. Folks that are learning to use email and now you complicate the process by requiring someone to have only a cell phone and text messaging to access your account.

 

I use the ID.me method of authentication and text messaging taking maybe 30 seconds before I’m logged on which is only 4 times a year, every quarter. I did apply several years ago online for my SS and didn’t have any problems. It’s probably more efficient now to calculate benefits and apply.

 

Good luck on your decision of when to start collecting your earned SS benefits.

 

Medicare.gov plan finder has also revamped their web site. Looking forward to using it October 15 thru December 7.

 

Gold Conversationalist

Update:   

 

The calculation for spousal benefits seems to be entirely fixed now. It works as expected and gives valid results. It's nice to have this function.

 

It still gives accurate - but misleading in my view - benefits with delayed retirement credits. As you "slide" the little control (or select from list) for the month of your initial benefit in the first year of your retirement the benefit does not change $$$, it stays the same as in January. This is the "January rule" but they say nothing about the next and subsequent years getting the full delayed retirement credits. Someone not familiar with the rules will see no advantage to delaying beyond January of each year.

 

I can log in with my "old" username and pw or the "ID.me" account I set up a year or two ago, when it was first offered as an alternative. However, I can't log in with my login.gov account: I am told that "there is already an existing account [yes, my username and pw] and do I want to create a new account?". No, I don't want to create a new account, I just want to log in with login.gov. Well, not really, I am fine using my username and pw; it's just that they presented this functionality option and it's not available. Others have reported this same condition.

 

So for now it seems that the "new" site is fully functional. It provides several new features for users. And for those who will register with a new account it will provide more secure identity verification (to protect against identity theft) and more secure log in.

 

Off-hand, I don't know if new users will be able to register/log in with either (meaning both) ID.me and login.gov or if once one is used then no further alternate can be created.

 

My in-laws have analogous government accounts in Canada and they are given the opportunity to log in with their username/pw or via a "partner", which is one (or more?) of a list of around 20 or so large banks, credit unions, etc. Either method can be used at any time to log in. Personally, I don't like the idea of logging in via my bank, etc. I suppose it is this model that I am expecting when I try to log in to "My Social Security" using any of the three methods available, but it doesn't work that way.

Gold Conversationalist

sigh. well, they seem to have broken the "spouse" benefit function again. I noticed this after I was finally able to log in tonight (using Edge browser) after receiving multiple errors logging in using Chrome. I still think the log in error was on their side, not in Chrome.

Still, they report my benefit if I was to apply "now" correctly. But I continue to have reservations about this site.

 

Update 10-05-2021:   I think I understand now what they are doing with the "Spouse" option. Although based on changes to the site it seems that even the SSA was undecided about what this option was to do.

 

This option asks if you want to "Include a Spouse?". I assumed (my mistake) that this meant that I, as the user, wanted to include my own spouse and her prospective spousal benefits. If this was so then I should be able to enter spouse's age at the initial benefit and see what it would be (reduced if taken before their FRA, or same as my own PIA if taken at their FRA). And this is how it actually worked for a few days, at least. 

 

But initially, and currently, the controls are not set up for the function I described. Instead, the premise is that I, the user, want to check my own benefits based on being the spouse of another worker. Thus the input controls for "age" are my own age when I would take such spousal benefits. I haven't explored any further to see if the resulting calculations make any sense. They probably do but I can't assure that.

 

 

Gold Conversationalist

One new (?) feature that may be unrelated is there now seems to be "hours" on the site for My Social Security. This is new to me. Maybe it's because I am now in a different time zone (2 hours behind the US East Coast) or maybe it is new. I log in late in the evening and I find a page indicating the hours for the site. I find it odd for a web site to have daily hours. Yes, sometimes go down for regular service. But this is daily.

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