Social Security

The Social Security Administration's toll-free number is 1-800-772-1213. You can speak to a service representative between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. To find out how much money you're likely to receive when you retire, ask for a customer Social Security statement. (Starting next month, all workers 25 and older will get a statement automatically three months before their birth month.)

The agency has an assortment of booklets that describe the many Social Security programs. Copies are available at local Social Security offices as well as on the Internet, at www.ssa.gov.

Medicare

The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), which runs Medicare, currently is distributing a new booklet, "Medicare & You 2000" to nearly 40 million Medicare recipients around the country.

The booklet describes Medicare benefits and new Medicare managed care plans that may be available in your area.

A copy of the booklet and other Medicare information is available on the Internet at www.medicare.gov.

You can request information on Medicare benefits and managed-care plans by calling 1-800-633-4227.

Medicare and Medigap policies

A 12-page booklet, "Medicare Health Plan Choices: 1999 Consumer Update," is available from the United Seniors Health Cooperative in Washington. Send a self-addressed, business-size envelope with 55 cents postage to:

United Seniors Health Cooperative

409 Third St. SW

Suite 200

Washington, D.C. 20024

Long-term care insurance

There's lots of information in "Long-Term Care Planning: A Dollar and Sense Guide," published by United Seniors Health Cooperative. This easy-to-read, 100-page book is available for $18.50 (includes postage and handling) from:

United Seniors Health Cooperative

409 Third St. SW

Suite 200

Washington, D.C. 20024

For credit-card orders, call: 1-800-637-2604.

IRA withdrawals

For help in making IRA withdrawals when you reach age 70A, request a free copy of the Salomon Smith Barney IRA Distribution Manual, which is available by calling 1-800-327-6748, Ext. 984. Also,

T. Rowe Price Associates offers a free booklet, "Understanding Minimum Required Distributions." Call 1-800-638-5660.

Retirement planning

Many mutual funds and brokerage firms offer retirement-related information and software to help future retirees analyze their finances.

The Retirees Financial Guide published by T. Rowe Price Associates is especially useful. Call 1-800-638-5660 for a free copy.

Information also will be found at fund companies' Web sites. Among them: www.troweprice.com, www.vanguard.com and www.fidelity.com.

Some Internet sites: There are many Web sites devoted to subjects of interest to retirees.

They include:

www.aarp.org The opening page of the AARP Web site will lead you to "reference and research," which will lead you to the AARP's Guide to Internet Resources Related to Aging. And that will lead you to dozens of Web sites devoted to aging and retirement.

www.aoa.dhhs.gov The Web site of the federal Administration on Aging offers information on a wide variety of subjects affecting senior citizens.

seniors.yahoo.com Yahoo's SeniorsGuide offers chat rooms and a variety of information on issues affecting retirees.

www.investorguide.com/retirement.htmThis site, sponsored by Web Finance Inc., deals with a wide variety of retirement subjects and issues.