Social Security: Help someone this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

January 16 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – a national holiday. To some, the day means more than an observance of the birthday of the civil rights leader. It is also a day to be of service to others.

The MLK 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.

A great way to be of service to others is to help someone you know who may need assistance applying for Social Security, Medicare, or Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. Each of these is easy to do at

Some people who need these benefits may not be comfortable with computers or may not even know applying online is an option. But now it’s easier than ever to apply for such benefits from the convenience of a home computer at

For example, it’s easy to apply for retirement benefits at It can take as little as 15 minutes from start to finish, and once the application is electronically submitted, in most cases, there is nothing more to do.

It’s even easier to apply for Medicare, for people who do not plan to begin their Social Security retirement payments yet but who do want Medicare coverage. The application takes about 10 minutes and can be found at

People who already have Medicare coverage, but who have trouble meeting prescription drug costs, can apply for Extra Help online at

This holiday, you may want to make a trip to see the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, DC or listen to a recording of a memorable speech. You can also make your Martin Luther King Day a day of service to someone who can use your help. Lead them to It may be easy for you, but it may be a dream come true for the person you help.

Kathy Petersen is a public affairs specialist for Social Security, Denver Region. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 605 Main, Suite 201, Rapid City, SD, 57701 or via e-mail at Next week Kathy answers your Social Security questions in her popular Q&A column.