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No more errands; stay home for the holidays


Vonda VanTil

Vonda VanTil

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

 

Let’s face it, the last thing you’re going to want to do during this holiday season is another errand. You’ve hung the lights, plugged them in, and were frustrated when you realized you needed to replace one little bulb to make the entire string work. That’s a trip to the store. You thought this holiday season would be easy. When it comes to taking care of Social Security business, it is easy. You’ll find that www.socialsecurity.gov makes it easy to stay home and get that one last thing done. You can check off much of your Social Security business quickly and securely from your home using your computer or tablet (which you might have unwrapped early). At the Social Security website you can—

* Create a my Social Security account, which enables you to:

• obtain an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefits;

•verify the accuracy of your earnings record—your future benefit amounts are based on your earnings record, so it is important to make sure your earnings are recorded properly;

• change your address and phone number, if you receive monthly Social Security benefits;

• sign up for or change direct deposit of your Social Security benefits; and

• obtain estimates of the Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid;

* Apply for retirement, disability, spouses, and Medicare benefits;

* Check the status of your benefit application;

* Request a replacement Medicare card; and

* Apply for Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug plan costs.

Keep in mind that during the holiday season, your wait time may be longer if you call or visit a local Social Security office. If you need to reach us by phone, you can call us toll-free at

1-800-772-1213. We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Vonda VanTil is the public affairs specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp St NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov  

 

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MDCH launches website to address prescription drug abuse


 

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has developed a website to increase public awareness of the risks and potential harm associated with misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and to provide everyday steps individuals can take to address the issue in their families and communities. Do Your Part: Be the Solution is a multifaceted approach to addressing prescription drug misuse and abuse across Michigan.

“Everyone has a role to play in the solution as we address prescription drug misuse and abuse in Michigan. This website offers practical steps that everyone can take right now,” said Lyon. “We can all do our part by monitoring the medications in our homes, understanding the risks of sharing prescription medications, and properly disposing of medications when they are no longer needed.”

The non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and prescription medication is the second most commonly abused category of drugs. Opiate overdoses, once almost always due to heroin use, are now increasingly due to the abuse of prescription painkillers. In 2012, 941 Michigan residents died due to unintentional drug poisoning.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, every day an average of 2,000 teenagers nationwide use a prescription drug for the first time without a doctor’s guidance. Oftentimes, teens are accessing these drugs in their own homes. It can be as easy as opening a cupboard, drawer or medicine cabinet.

In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) sites prescription opioid abuse may be “the first step” to heroin use. Recent research by NIDA indicated that almost half of the young heroin users who injected heroin reported they used opioid pain relievers before the started using heroin.

Do Your Part: Be the Solution addresses the issue of prescription drug misuse and abuse using a multi-pronged approach including educating communities and the general public, providing guidance and resources to the medical community and other professionals, and linking to information on proper disposal to reduce the impact on the environment.

For more information on the Do Your Part: Be the Solution campaign visit the website at www.michigan.gov/doyourpart.

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New eye health website


From the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Keeping your eye on an eye-oriented website can help you see your way clear to better eye health.

(NAPS)—Ever wonder how smoking affects your eyesight? How to care for your eyes during pregnancy? How often you should get your eyes examined? Answers to these questions can be found at a new website www.GetEyeSmart.org.

The new site is the most trusted online resource for reliable, unbiased eye care information. There, you will find volumes of important eye health content written and reviewed by ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.s). The American Academy of Ophthalmology has launched www.GetEyeSmart.org in order to help educate consumers about eye diseases and conditions, vision correction and the preservation of healthy vision across a lifetime.

EyeSmart delivers information on the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of common eye diseases and conditions—illustrated with photos and interactive elements, including animations, diagrams and dozens of informative videos. Much of the site is translated into Spanish as well. In addition, the website also provides:

•    Recommendations for “Living EyeSmart” in a new section devoted to healthy vision tips and what consumers need to know about their eye health based on their age and other lifestyle factors;

•    Online vision simulators to show how certain eye diseases and conditions can impact sight;

•    “Ask an Eye M.D.”: a searchable database of commonly asked eye health questions, plus the ability for visitors to submit new questions to an Academy panel of experts;

•    A free electronic newsletter focusing on healthy vision.

The Academy’s Eye M.D.s will continue to add new eye care topics to the GetEyeSmart.org website, plus the site will feature up-to-date news on the latest research developments that can impact people’s eye health. Articles from EyeSmart can also be easily shared to social networking sites.

“I will be letting all my patients know about the Eye Smart website, because I know what they read there is accurate, timely and reliable,” said Andrew G. Iwach, M.D., a glaucoma specialist. “With EyeSmart, the public can trust that experienced eye physicians and surgeons stand behind the information, and that making sure people get the best possible care for their eyes is our goal.”

To learn more about taking care of your eyes or to submit a question to “Ask an Eye M.D.” go to www.GetEyeSmart.org.

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