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Benefit information is available at any Social Security office, online

Q: If the need arises while away from home, which Social Security office should we contact?

A: Any SSA office or telephone center can access your record to answer questions or update your record. You can contact any office, or call the national telephone number. Do what is most convenient for you.  The Social Security national toll-free telephone number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), has representatives available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.  Find local office information at the SSA website,

Online services for people receiving benefits, FAQ's, and program information are on the website too.

Q: My husband and I started Social Security this summer and will spend winter in Arizona. Do we need to change the bank where our benefit payments are received?

A: There is no need to change the savings, checking or other account used for your Social Security direct deposit unless you want to.  Do what is best for you.

If you choose to change bank accounts, allow up to 60 days -- approximately two checks -- for benefits to be directed to the new account due to computer processing times and the different Social Security payment dates during a month. When changing direct deposit, it is very important to keep the old bank account open until your benefits are actually received in the new account.  

NOTE: A letter is sent to you by surface mail when a direct deposit account changes. Protect yourself against theft. If you receive a letter about changes to your direct deposit, but have not made any changes, contact Social Security immediately.

If desired, you can change your Social Security mailing address for letters, with or without changing the financial institution where benefits go. A mailing address change processes quickly since it involves only internal Social Security records and not coordination with the Treasury Department.

Reminder:  The Medicare Part D (prescription drug program) open season ends Dec. 7.

Review your existing plan to be sure it suits your current needs.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at