How Can I Get A Social Security Statement That Shows A Record Of My Earnings And An Estimate Of My Future Benefits
You can get your personal Social Security Statement online by using your mySocial Security account. If you dont yet have an account, you can easily create one. Your online Statement gives you secure and convenient access to your earnings records. It also shows estimates for retirement, disability and survivors benefits you and your family may be eligible for. To set up or use your account to get your online Social Security Statement, go to . We also mail paper;Statements;to workers age 60 and older three months before their birthday if they dont receive Social Security benefits and dont yet have a;mySocial Security account. Workers who dont want to wait for their scheduled mailing;can request;their;Social Security Statement;by;following these instructions.;The;Statement;will arrive by mail in four to six weeks.
Check For Errors In Your Social Security Statements
Social Security can be a big part of your retirement income, so it helps to know if the federal government calculated your benefits correctly.
A Social Security statement details your earnings history and estimated monthly retirement benefit. The Social Security Administration mailed 47.9 million paper statements in the 2016 fiscal year, which ended September 2016. And more than 26 million people have a My Social Security account that allows them to check their statements online.
“Most clients don’t realize the statements are not mailed each year and can’t remember the last time they looked,” said certified financial planner Jan Valecka, owner of Valecka Wealth Management.
Not everyone receives a paper Social Security statement each year.
The SSA mails paper statements to workers at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 who aren’t receiving retirement benefits and do not yet have a My Social Security account. After age 60, people will receive a statement every year. The statements are mailed three months prior to your birthday.
The SSA has been mailing paper statements this way since 2014. In 2011, the agency stopped sending everyone paper statements to save $70 million annually on printing and postage costs, but had to backtrack after beneficiaries and lawmakers complained.
Request The Social Security Record Of A Deceased Spouse To Confirm Earnings Credits
Its each citizen or legal aliens responsibility to check his or her Social Security earnings record on a regular basis. How much you actually earned and contributed to Social Security might differ from the information Social Security has in the Social Security record.
If your now deceased spouse was self-employed and delayed filing net income returns for any reason, current Social Security records might not reflect an accurate picture of how much he or she earned. You can request the deceased individuals Social Security record to verify the information. If the statute of limitations for reporting all of his or her earnings hasnt elapsed, you can correct the information. Consult a financial adviser about your situation.
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How To Stop Social Security Check Payments
The SSA can not pay benefits for the month of a recipients death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August must be returned. Find out how to return a check to the SSA.
If the payment is by direct deposit, notify the financial institution as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death. For more about the requirement to return benefits for the month of a beneficiarys death, see the top of page 11 of this SSA publication.
Family members may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits when a person getting benefits dies. Visit the SSA’s Survivors Benefits page to learn more.
Earn Ssa Work Credits In Some Countries
You may not have enough credits from your work in the United States to qualify for retirement benefits. But, you may be able to count your work credits from another country. The SSA has agreements with 24 countries. If you earned credits in one of those countries, they can help you qualify for U.S. benefits.
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Errors Can Dramatically Affect How Much In Social Security Income You Can Claim
Let me give you an example of how this can affect your benefit amount. For this example, I used the actual online calculator from the Social Security Administration. If you want to follow along, you can just go to the Online Calculator and crunch the numbers for yourself.
In the example calculation I ran, I assumed the following:
A worker has 35 years of earnings that started in 1984 and ended in 2018. Instead of going for a really high annual earnings amount, which would have exaggerate the effect, I assumed that this individual started in 1984 with a salary of $35,000 and had a 2% raise every year.
Under that assumption, this individual would have a full retirement age benefit of $2,418 dollars. Thats the baseline benefit amount wed expect this person to receive.
But what happens if information is missing from the earnings record? I went back to our calculation and assumed just one year of earnings in 1990 wasnt included on the workers record due to clerical error.
For one missing year, the benefit would decrease to $2,385 dollars. For two missing years, it would decrease to $2,353 dollars. For three, it would be $2,322. For four, it would be $2,291 and for five, it would be $2,260.
Thats a difference of $158 dollars per month.
Now, you might be thinking, Devin, that doesnt sound like such a crisis. $158 extra per month would be nice, but thats not paying for much.
I dont think anyone would willingly give up any of those amounts.
No : Collect A Spousal Benefit
If you’re married and your spouse has a richer work history than you do, you may be able to collect a “spousal benefit,” based on your spouse’s earnings instead of your own. Spouses can collect benefits worth up to 50% of their other half’s benefits. This can be particularly welcome for spouses who never worked, or earned very little.
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What Is The Difference Between Spousal And Survivor Benefits
There are many differences between spousal benefits and survivor benefits. In order to be eligible for spousal benefits, your spouse or ex-spouse must still be living. Survivor benefits are for people whose spouse or ex-spouse has passed away.
If your spouse or ex-spouse dies and has earned benefits that are higher than yours, you could be eligible for survivor benefits.The size of survivor benefits is based on 1) Your spouse or ex-spouses earnings; 2) Your full survivors retirement age; and 3) Whether your spouse or ex was receiving reduced benefits . Note that the;full retirement age for survivors;is different than the full retirement age for Social Security retirement benefits.
The earliest you can claim survivor benefits is age 60 . There are also other scenarios where you can claim survivor benefits at a younger age , including if you are taking care of a child under the age of 16 or you are disabled.;
With survivor benefits, you also are allowed to file a restricted application . However, with spousal benefits, you have to apply for both your own earned benefit and spousal benefit at the same time. .
Someone May Be Using Your Ssn
People can use your Social Security Number to access bank accounts, open new accounts, and more. If this is happening it may go undetected.
A lot of times there are indications that something is amiss. These are the top five signs your information has been compromised.
Can You Get The Maximum Social Security Benefit
Probably not. The maximum Social Security benefit in 2021 is $3,895. But very few people will actually get that amount. To get that much, youd have to earn the maximum salary for the year for 35 years and hold out until 70.
Most people will have to make do with much less than the maximum benefit. The less you can rely on Social Security, the more comfortable youll be. If youre still working, the best thing you can do is keep socking away as much as you can in a retirement account.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writerat The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to .
Ask Larry: When Will Social Security Properly Include My 2020 Earnings
Economic Security Planning, Inc.
Today’s column addresses questions about when Social Security will recognize recent high income, what happens to benefit checks received in the month a person passes away and how the Windfall Elimination Provision can affect benefits. Larry Kotlikoff is a Professor of Economics at Boston University and the founder and president of Economic Security Planning, Inc, which markets Maximize My Social Security and MaxiFi Planner.
Have Social Security questions of your own youd like answered? Ask Larry about Social Security here.
Will Social Security Properly Include My 2020 Earnings?
Hi Larry, I turn 70 this month and am still working. I am sure that 2020 will be among my highest earnings years. Will Social Security have my income info from 2020 available to them in time to use in the calculation of my benefit? I was told that I will not be eligible for my first Social Security check until March. Will the system properly include my earnings from last year? Thanks, Jim
Hi Jim, First note that if you turn 70 in January, you’ll want to start your Social Security retirement benefits effective no later than January. That’s the payment that Social Security normally pays in February, since they pay benefits a month behind.
Back to your question, though: Social Security won’t receive proof of your 2020 earnings until your W-2 form is issued, or until sometime after you file your tax return for 2020 if you’re self-employed.
No : Delay Starting To Collect Your Benefits
Another way to increase your Social Security benefits is to delay starting to collect them. You can start as early as age 62 and delay up to age 70. Each of us has a “full” retirement age , and for every year beyond that that you delay, your benefits will grow by about 8%. Delay from age 67 to 70 and you’ll get benefits 24% bigger. The table below shows the effect of starting to collect early or late. For example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you start collecting benefits at 64, your checks will be 80% of what they would have been had you started collecting at 67.
Checking Your Credit Score
The most common way to catch unauthorized activity is by checking your credit information. If an account appears that you did not initiate, someone is using your Social Security number.
You can check your credit score using a third-party service like or check with your credit card company to see if they have such a feature.
If youre applying for a new line of credit and get turned down, this could mean that there are fraudulent accounts or activities that are affecting your credit score.
Maximizing Your Spousal Benefits
The earliest you can claim spousal benefits is 62but how early you claim plays an important role in maximizing your benefits. If you claim before you reach your;full retirement age, you will permanently lower your monthly benefit and even your survivor benefit.
While the;Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015;ended some of the strategizing around spousal benefits, but there are still ways to maximize your spousal benefits:
- If you were born before Jan. 2, 1954, and havent claimed your own benefits yet, you are still able to take advantage of the loophole. You can file a restricted application for spousal benefits at your full retirement age. For this to work, your spouse must have already filed for their benefits. This strategy would let you start receiving spousal benefits, while delaying taking your earned benefits, causing them to grow. When you turn 70, you would then switch to those earned benefits .
- If you were born on Jan. 2, 1954 or later, and you are married, the higher earning spouse may consider delaying claiming their benefits until age 70 to increase the benefit with delayed retirement credits. Keep in mind, this would mean delaying when;you;can take your own spousal benefits, thus missing out a few years of those payments.
- If youre divorced, youll get the maximum spousal benefit, 50%, if you wait to reach your full retirement age. But you have the advantage of not needing to wait for your ex to file for his or her own benefits;first.
Social Security: 10 Smart Ways To Get More Benefits
Without Social Security benefits, 22 million Americans would be poor; per a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. About 21% of married elderly beneficiaries and 44% of unmarried ones get fully;90%;or more of their income from Social Security, while about 48% of married elderly beneficiaries and 69% of unmarried ones get 50% or more of their income from it, according;to the Social Security Administration.
How much money are we talking about? Well, the average Social Security retirement check was recently;$1,417, or about $17,000 annually. If that doesn’t seem like much, know that there are ways to increase your benefits. Here are 10 strategies to consider:
Let’s examine each in more detail.
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Check The Social Security Administration’s Math
Your statement includes a record of the earnings on which you’ve paid taxes and an estimate of the benefits you will receive at various retirement ages: 62, 67, and 70. It is always wise for you to check the SSA’s numbers. Don’t be surprised if you uncover an error. Some government-watchers estimate that the SSA makes mistakes on at least 3% of the total official earnings records it keeps.
When you check your record, make sure that the Social Security number noted on your earnings statement is your own, and make sure the earned income amounts listed on the agency’s records mesh with your own records of earnings as listed on your income tax forms or pay stubs.
Get Ssa Benefits While Living Overseas
U.S. citizens can travel to or live in most, but not all, foreign countries and still receive their Social Security benefits. You can find out if you can receive benefits overseas by using the Social Security Administrations payment verification tool. Once you access the tool, pick the country you’re visiting or living in from the drop-down menu options.
No : Look Into Survivor And Disability Benefits
You may be able to get more money from Social Security than you thought if you’ve been widowed or are disabled or related closely to someone disabled. That’s because Social Security offers survivor and disability benefits and even retirement benefits for dependents of retirees in some cases. If your spouse passes away, you may be able to claim survivor benefits and your children may receive them, too, through age 17. Social Security offers disability benefits, also, to people of all ages who qualify.
Schedule C And Schedule F
Only the net earnings from Schedule C or Schedule F count toward Social Security, and this can be somewhat tricky. For example, you might have had $75,000 in earnings from your small business over the course of the tax year. But if you also paid $25,000 in deductible business expenses, your net earnings are therefore $50,000. The Social Security tax is then calculated using Schedule SE.
Schedules C and F calculate net income from gross income after deducting for allowable business expenses.
Some self-employed taxpayers need a little extra time to gather all the information necessary to accurately file Schedules C, Schedules SE, and Form 1040 tax returns, and some end up filing late, even years after the original deadline has passed. It’s important to file a tax return before the three-year time limit expires for getting Social Security credits.
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How To Check My Statement
Review the earnings recorded on the statement and compare them with recent W-2 forms from your job. The estimates combine all earnings for the year, so if you had more than one job or;earned income from a side hustle, make sure to add those up.
Remember that your earnings for last year may not be recorded yet depending on when you check. There’s also;a limit;on the total amount of earnings you contribute to Social Security. Any earnings above that limit wont appear on the statement.
If you find an error on your earnings, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. Have your W-2 or tax return for the year in question handy.
Pick The Right Date To Apply
While application processing times are quicker than they were in the past, particularly with the online application, it can still take several weeks to have your application confirmed. It can take longer if theres a mistake in your application.;
Luckily, the Social Security Administration allows you to apply up to four months in advance of when you want to start collecting benefits . For that reason, we suggest you circle a day 3-4 months in anticipation to submit your application.
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