Social Security has a toolbox full of resources on its website, www.socialsecurity.gov, to help you with your financial planning. With so many resources, maybe it’s easier if we highlight one of our “best.”
BEST is the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool, available at www.ssabest.benefits.gov. It can help you find out if you might be eligible for retirement, disability, survivors, Supplemental Security Income, or Medicare benefits. Although BEST asks you a series of questions to determine your eligibility, they are not personal in nature and the answers are not stored.
On average, it takes only about 10 minutes to complete the BEST questionnaire. First, it guides you through the questions needed to find out if you could qualify for benefits. Just to the right of each question is an information icon (a white “i” in a blue circle) that gives you tips on how to answer each question.
The “results” section appears automatically after you have completed some basic questions. BEST lists each program for which you might qualify. By clicking on the “read more” tab, you’ll find a description of the benefits program, its requirements, and what your next steps should be. If you are eligible for benefits, you must file an application for benefits with Social Security because BEST is not an application. The best way to do this is by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov.
You can go back and narrow your resource responses by answering additional questions. After you have reviewed the results, you can print a copy for your records or email yourself a copy.
BEST doesn’t screen for the Extra Help program, which helps with Medicare Part D prescription drug plan costs. But see if you qualify at www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/prescriptionhelp/.
The results couldn’t be clearer — investing just ten minutes can yield all the possible resources available to you from Social Security. Now, that’s a tool worth using.