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Legal And Financial Services

Business Investments

Many people looking for ways to supplement their income end up losing their savings in fraudulent or misrepresented schemes. The FTC has acted to make wise investing easier by requiring companies to give potential buyers a prospectus containing critical financial information about the franchise and its earning potential. Consumers considering investing in a franchise business should ask for the prospectus before making a decision.

Tax Resources

Numerous changes are made each year with the tax laws that affect the payment of income taxes. The IRS website can answer many of your questions, or you could call the toll free number:

Internal Revenue Service
1-800-829-1040 or 151-284-4240
Website: www.irs.gov

If you are not satisfied with the way a local IRS office handles the resolution of the problem, report it to:

Problem Resolution Office
Internal Revenue Service
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50305

Iowa Department of Revenue

If you have questions concerning state taxes you can call the Department of Revenue. Additionally, if you meet necessary guidelines, the department can provide you information on your property tax credit or rent reimbursement.

Iowa Department of Revenue
1-800-367-3388 or 515-281-3114
Website: www.iowa.gov/tax

Property Taxes

If you have questions about property tax, your county assessor can help. Find your county assessor.

Federal Government Programs

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Act and related laws established a number of programs which have the basic objectives of providing for the material needs of individuals and families, protecting aged and disabled persons against the expenses of illnesses that could otherwise exhaust their savings, keeping families together, and giving children the opportunity to grow up in health and security.

Social Security Hotline
TTY: 1-800-325-0778
Website: www.ssa.gov

Eligibility for Social Security Benefits depends on how long you have monetarily contributed as a worker. In order to qualify for retirement, disability or survivors' benefits for your family, you must have a certain number of years of coverage. Because of longer life expectancies, full retirement age varies with your date of birth. Please see the chart below to determine the age at which you may retire with full benefits. You may retire as early as age 62, but the amount you receive will be less than at your full retirement age.

Age To Receive Full Social Security Benefits

Year of BirthRetirement Age
1937 or earlier65
193865 and 2 months
193965 and 4 months
194065 and 6 months
194165 and 8 months
194265 and 10 months
1943 - 195466
195566 and 2 months
195666 and 4 months
195766 and 6 months
195866 and 8 months
195966 and 10 months
1960 or later67

How much should I expect?

Being covered or insured only means that you and your family can receive benefits. The amount you receive in monthly paychecks depends on the average yearly earnings of your working career under Social Security. These basic benefits are now automatically adjusted upward every January to keep pace with the cost of living.

If you are nearing retirement, and would like an estimate of your retirement benefits you should contact your local Social Security Administration office and request a copy of the leaflet: Estimating Your Social Security Retirement Check. You may also call the Social Security Hotlineat1-800-772-1213to request a benefits estimate.

When should I contact my Social Security office?

Sometimes a person is uncertain whether he or she qualifies for Social Security. In many cases, that doubt causes a person to lose those benefits to which he is entitled. Therefore, it is important that you contact your Social Security Office if:

  • You are unable to work because of an illness or injury that is expected to last a year or longer.
  • You are 62 or older and plan to retire.
  • You are within three months of 65 even if you do not plan to retire.
  • Someone in your family dies.
  • You, your wife or husband or your dependent children suffer permanent kidney failure.

What about Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

The SSI program is also administered by the Social Security Administration. SSI's aim is to provide a basic monthly income to persons who are blind or disabled, or to senior citizens (age 65 or older) who are in special need of financial assistance and who meet the income requirements. Because income requirements change often, contact your local Social Security Office to determine your eligibility. Your home or personal property is not considered as a limitation. Unlike Social Security, you can get SSI benefits even if you have never worked or for other reasons do not qualify for Social Security benefits.

SSI defines a person as disabled if he/she is unable to engage in any gainful employment due to a physical or mental impairment which has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.

How can I appeal if I am denied benefits?

If your application for Social Security or SSI benefits is denied, or if any of your benefits are reduced or terminated, you certainly may appeal the decision. Appeal forms are available from any Social Security Administration Office. You are allowed to have a friend or relative assist you in any appeal proceeding. You may also want to contact an attorney to help you with an appeal or any other matter concerning the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs. It is important to remember that before an attorney can charge you a fee, he or she must petition the Social Security Administration for approval of the fee.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Depending upon your circumstances, you may be eligible for retirement benefits from the Veterans Administration.

Veterans Affairs Regional Office
Federal Building
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309-9825
Fax: 515-323-7407
Website: va.gov

Black Lung

Inquiries regarding Black Lung claims may be made at your local Social Security Office. Billing problems should be referred to the Department of Labor, Coal Mine Workers' Compensation Division.

Department of Labor
1999 Broadway, Suite 690
P.O. Box 46550
Denver, Co. 80201
Website: dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-blba.htm

Depending upon your circumstances, you may be eligible for retirement benefits from the Railroad.

Railroad Retirement Board
Federal Building
210 Walnut Street, Room 921
Des Moines, IA 50309-9825
FAX: 515-284-4616
email:desmoines AT rrb.gov

Other Federal Programs

The federal government offers a wide variety of assistance programs. Benefits.Gov helps you find government benefits you may be eligible to receive.

Financial Resources

State Banking Authorities

If you have any questions concerning banking or suspect that a banking error has occurred, the Superintendent of Banking can assist you.

Iowa Division of Banking
200 East Grand Avenue, Suite 300
Des Moines, IA 50309
FAX: 515-281-4862
Website: idob.state.ia.us

Credit Resources

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a variety of pamphlets available on their web site concerning consumer and business credit.

How to contact the three major credit bureaus:


To learn more about Equifax, please visit their website.

To order your report

Call: 800-685-1111
Write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

To report fraud

Call: 800-525-6285
Write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Hearing impaired call 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request a copy of your report.


To learn more about Experian, please visit their website.

To order your report

Call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Write: P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013

To report fraud

Call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Write: P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013
TDD: 1-800-972-0322

Trans Union

To learn more about Trans Union, please visit their website.

To order your report

Call: 800-888-4213
Write: P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022

To report fraud

Call: 800-680-7289
Write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
TDD: 1-877-553-7803

Legal Resources

It is important that Iowans have effective access to legal information and to the programs intended to serve them. If you need legal advice and don't already have an attorney there are several avenues available to you.

Private Lawyers

If you need help finding a lawyer, check with the lawyer referral service of the Iowa State Bar Association. Since lawyers may advertise their services, you also may wish to comparison shop through directories or newspapers. You may find general legal and law service information by contacting:

Iowa State Bar Association
Lawyer Referral Service
521 E. Locust St.
Des Moines, IA 50309
Website: www.iowabar.org

Iowa Legal Aid

Iowa Legal Aid provides assistance to lower income families, older Iowans and persons with disabilities who can't afford to hire private lawyers. They also provide about 40 different pamphlets and booklets dealing with such law related subjects as nursing homes, health care, Social Security, age discrimination, funerals, small claims court and landlord/tenant law. These publications are free to low-income Iowans, and others can purchase them at a modest cost. For more information, contact the central office of the Legal Services Corporation at:

Iowa Legal Aid
1111 9thStreet, Suite 230
Des Moines, IA 50314-2527
Fax: 515-244-4618
Website: www.iowalegalaid.org/ia/homepage.html

Iowa Judicial Branch

This website has useful information on a variety of legal topics, including child support, custody, attorney, court costs and how to complain about an attorney or judge.

Website: www.judicial.state.ia.us

Small Claims Court

If you have a complaint that you have not been able to resolve and the amount involved is less than $5,000, as a last resort, you can go to small claims court. Fees are minimal and you can often get your fee back if you win your case. If you need to obtain information on the process of small claims court contact the clerk of District Court in your area or write to:

The Iowa State Bar Association
Section on Trade Regulation
521 E. Locust Street, 3rd Floor
Des Moines, IA 50309-1939
Website: www.iowabar.org

Drake Legal Clinic

The Drake Legal Clinic handles a wide variety of legal issues. Students help people who might not have access to other legal assistance. Call 1-800-443-7253, ext 2824, or online at their website for more information.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC)

The NSCLC was established in 1972 to help older individuals through legal work in support of elderly poor clients, client groups, and Elder Law attorneys. The NSCLC responds to 4,000 requests for assistance annually. Requests may be made by telephone, by mail or by e-mail. NSCLC is available to serve in a purely supportive or advisory capacity, as active co-counsel, or as lead counsel in litigation and administrative aging matters.

National Senior Citizens Law Center
1101 14th Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
FAX: 202-289-7224
Website: www.nsclc.org

Crime Victim Compensation Program

If you are a victim of crime, the Iowa Attorney General's office's crime victim compensation program may be of assistance. For information about the program contact:

Iowa Attorney General's Office
Crime Victim Compensation Program
Lucas Building, Ground Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319
FAX: 515-281-8199
email: mbartin AT ag.state.ia.us
Website: www.iowa.gov/government/ag/helping_victims/index.html

Iowa Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc

Iowa Protection and Advocacy Services is a federally funded program to defend and promote the human and legal rights of Iowans who have disabilities and mental illnesses.

Iowa Protection and Advocacy Services, Inc
950 Office Park Rd, Suite 221
WDM, IA 50265
515-278-0571 (TTY)
515-866-483-3342 (Toll-Free TTY)

Additional Legal Resources

The Iowa Senior Citizens' Handbook is a wonderful in-depth handbook that contains legal and resource information. It was produced by the Young Lawyers Section of the Iowa State Bar Association. It is available FREE by writing to:

Iowa State Bar Association
Office of the Secretary
521 E. Locust
Des Moines, IA 50309