Social security retirement benefits provide an important source of income upon your retirement. The benefits available under the social security retirement system are based on your age at the time you retire as well as on how much you pay into the social security system. As such, it is important to keep careful track of how your earnings are being recorded by the social security administration.
Why Check Your Social Security Earnings Statement
Your social security earnings statement is kept by the social security administration. This statement tracks your work credits as well as the money you have earned and paid into the social security system. You can obtain a copy of this earnings statement on the Internet at www.ssa.gov/mystatement/. Today, using the Internet is the only way to obtain your earnings statement since these statements have not been mailed since 2011. When you sign into your account to check your statement, you will be provided with information both on the total amount you have paid into the social security system as well as on your estimated benefits at the time of retirement.
You will also be provided with information on whether you qualify for social security disability benefits (and how much those benefits would be) and on whether your child or family members would qualify for social security benefits based on your work history.
Reviewing this information is important for many reasons. For example, it can help you to prepare for retirement since you’ll know what to expect if you retire at various ages and can thus adjust your savings accordingly based on what you are likely to receive from social security. It will also help you to better understand what would happen if you became disabled and, if you do have not yet earned enough to qualify for disability benefits from the SSA, you can make an informed choice about whether to invest in private disability insurance.
The most important reason for signing in and checking your earnings statement, however, is that you need to check and make sure that the SSA is correct and that no errors have been made in reporting or calculating your earnings. If an error has been made, then you could end up not getting the full social security benefits that you deserve.
If you identify an error on your earnings statement, it is important to let the social security administration know right away so that the problem can be corrected. You can get in touch with someone who can help you by visiting your local social security office or by contacting the SSA helpline using their toll-free number at 800-772-1213. You should expect long hold times on the telephone and a long wait in your local office.
To correct the error, you will need to have documents showing both what the SSA is reporting your earnings as, as well as evidence of what your earnings actually were. You will need to provide the SSA with a copy they can keep of the evidence showing what your correct earnings are.
You will then simply need to wait for the SSA to make a correction. This can take several months, so be sure to write down the name of anyone that you speak to about making the correction and be sure to follow up regularly and check your earnings statement to be sure that the correction has been made.