Your Benefits Could Be Affected So Be Sure You Check Your Record
The amount of your Social Security benefits is based on how much you make throughout the time you work. Specifically, you get benefits equal to a percentage of your average wages in the 35 years your earnings were highest, after wages are adjusted for inflation.
Since benefits are based on your income, it’s important to make sure the Social Security Administration has an accurate record of what you’ve earned. To do this, you’ll need to check your Social Security earnings statement.
What Information Is Shown On The Statement
Earnings statements show:
Total earnings credited to your record beginning January 1, 1937, through December 31, 1950
The annual totals of earnings for the years 1951 through two years before the current year
The number of credits you need for insured status
The number of credits you have earned and
Estimates for retirement, disability, family and survivors benefits.
What Is The Difference In The Information I Receive From The Alaska Department Of Labor The Social Security Administration And The Internal Revenue Service
The information from the DOL includes: the name of the business and the gross wage reported by the employer. This information is done by quarter, or every 3 months.
The information from the SSA includes: earnings record for the time period that you have requested. It does not include company names, but you can get a detailed record, you just have to send off for it.
The information from the IRS includes: a transcript of your earnings on the past year’s tax return. You can also get an exact copy of the return.
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Earnings Information Available From Social Security Records
Each year, Social Security automatically mails a Social Security Statement to everyone who is at least 25 years of age, not already receiving Social Security benefits based on their own earnings record and for whom we can obtain a current address. These statements are mailed about three months before the person’s birthday.
How Can I Get A Form Ssa
An SSA-1099 is a tax form we mail each year in January to people who receive Social Security benefits. It shows the total amount of benefits you received from Social Security in the previous year so you know how much Social Security income to report to IRS on your tax return.
If you are a nonresident alien and you received or repaid Social Security benefits last year, we will send you form SSA-1042S instead.
The forms SSA-1099 and SSA-1042S are not available for people who receive Supplemental Security Income .
If you currently live in the United States and you need a replacement form SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S, we have a new way for you to get an instant replacement quickly and easily beginning February 1st by:
- Using your online mySocial Security account. If you dont already have an account, you can create one online. Go to . Once you are logged in to your account, select the “Replacement Documents” tab
- Calling us at 1-800-772-1213 , Monday through Friday, 8:00 am 7:00 pm or
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Check Your Annual Social Security Statement
Even if you dont set up an online my Social Security account, the SSA will send you an annual statement of your account. Since this is the official record of your name, Social Security number and earnings, its the one you should ensure is accurate. If you dont want to set up your own online SSA account — which you should! — youll still receive an annual statement from the Social Security Administration.
How To Check Your Social Security Statement And Why You Should
Modified date: Apr. 19, 2019
If youre investing for your retirement, you shouldnt forget about the income youll earn from Social Security.
Even though it may be decades away, its possible to get an estimate as to what your retirement benefits will be.
All you have to do is get a copy of your Social Security Statement. Its easy to do, and its an absolutely necessary step in planning for your retirement.
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.
Why You Should Check Your Social Security Statement
In order to accurately assess how much income youll need in retirement, and therefore how big of a retirement portfolio youll need to produce that income, you have to consider retirement income from non-investment sources. This includes pensions, income generated by non-retirement assets, and Social Security benefits.
For example, if you expect to need $5,000 per month in retirement, but you will receive $2,000 per month in Social Security benefits, then your retirement portfolio will only need to generate $3,000 per month.
Knowing your Social Security benefit is also important because most workers today arent covered by a defined benefit pension plan. Those were the employer-only funded plans that many of todays retirees enjoy. But most workers today will be dependent on a combination of Social Security benefits and the income generated by a generously funded retirement portfolio.
Apart from retirement, its also important to know how much you can expect to receive if you needed to file for disability. This is an often under-appreciated benefit of Social Security, but an extremely important one for everyone who relies primarily on earned income to provide for themselves and their families.
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.
Using Your Benefit Estimates
As your statement will show, your Social Security retirement benefits will vary depending on when you claim them before or after your full retirement age . The longer you wait to start receiving payments, the higher your benefit amount will be.
However, it’s not always better to wait until your full retirement age to claim your Social Security benefits. If you need your Social Security benefits for living expenses, or you have a health condition that makes it unlikely that you will live past age 75 or so, you may be better off collecting your benefits sooner rather than later. You can use a calculator at the Social Security website to see which retirement age makes the most financial sense for you .
For comprehensive practical information about how and when to claim Social Security benefits, see Social Security, Medicare & Government Pensions, by Joseph Matthews with Dorothy Matthews Berman .
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Why Is It Important To Check Your Social Security Earnings Record
You should check your earnings record at least once per year to make sure your earnings have been properly reported to the SSA.
If your employer didn’t report your income properly or reported using the wrong name or Social Security number, you may not have received credit for all you made. If you changed your name after marriage or divorce and didn’t report this to the SSA, you may also have an incorrect record.
If there’s a problem, you need to contact the SSA to correct it — and provide documentation including tax returns, W-2s, or pay stubs. If you’ve gone years between checking your earnings and you notice a mistake, you may not have these old documents any more and fixing your record could become more difficult.
If you don’t get credit for the full amount of wages you earned, your Social Security benefits will be smaller as a result of it. And if money was taken directly out of your paycheck to cover Social Security taxes , you’d have paid taxes for benefits you don’t receive.
Why A Social Security Earnings Record Mistake Matters
A mistake in your earnings history can make a big difference in how your Social Security benefits are calculated. How? It all goes back to the benefits formula. The Social Security Administration uses your highest 35 years of earnings as a cornerstone of the benefit calculation. If any of these 35 years are incorrect or missing altogether, the average is skewed. One year of missing earnings can make a difference of $100 per month in your benefit amount. Over your lifetime, that could be nearly $30,000 in missed benefits from one year of missing earnings.
You need to check your Social Security earnings record today. Thankfully, its pretty easy to do.
Heres how to accomplish this in five easy steps.
Find Out Your Estimated Social Security Benefits
Periodically checking your estimated Social Security benefits serves several purposes: It helps you plan for retirement and allows you to check for and correct errors.
The Social Security Administration keeps a database of your earnings record and work credits, tracking both through your Social Security number. You can see this information on your Social Security Statement, which is available to everyone age 25 and over. The Social Security Statement also gives you an estimate of the benefits you’ll receive at retirement age, which can play an important role in your financial planning.
How To Correct An Error On Your Social Security Statement
If you have evidence of your covered earnings in the year or years for which you think Social Security has made an error, call Social Security’s helpline at 800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. This is the line that takes all kinds of Social Security questions, and it is often swamped, so be patient. It is best to call early in the morning or late in the afternoon, late in the week, or late in the month. Have all your documents handy when you speak with a representative.
If you would rather speak with someone in person, call your local Social Security office and make an appointment to see someone there, or drop into the office during regular business hours. If you drop in, be prepared to wait, perhaps as long as an hour or two, before you get to see a representative. Bring with you two copies of your benefits statement and the evidence that supports your claim of higher income. That way, you can leave one copy with the Social Security worker. Write down the name of the person with whom you speak so that you can reach the same person when you follow up.
The process to correct errors is slow. It may take several months to have the changes made in your record. After Social Security confirms that it has corrected your record, request another benefits statement to make sure the correct information made it to your file.
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Create An Online My Social Security Account
One of the best ways to monitor whats going on with your Social Security record is to monitor it directly yourself. You can set up a my Social Security account at ssa.gov. In addition to seeing your entire earnings record, you can use the site to request a replacement Social Security card, check the status of an application, estimate your future benefits or manage any benefits you already receive. You can also verify your correct name and year-by-year earnings record.
Where Is My Social Security Annual Earnings Statement
View your Social Security statements online to check your earnings and benefits. It only takes a few steps to gain access to this valuable retirement planning tool.
For many years, nearly every American who was actively paying Social Security tax received an annual earning statement from the Social Security Administration . This statement provided information regarding individuals earnings history and expected Social Security benefits, which was especially useful to those approaching retirement and for confirming proper credit for taxes paid.
After eliminating paper statements in 2011 due to budget cuts, the SSA has partially resumed mailing them to people who have not signed up to view them online. Statements will be sent to workers every five years if you are under the age of 60, and every year if you are over the age of 60. If you need the information between statements or prefer not to receive paper, dont fret as you can still easily get your information online by setting up an account.
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How To Check Your Social Security Earnings Statement
Checking your record of earnings with the SSA is easy. If you’re 18 or over, you can create an account with www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. You’ll need a few pieces of identifying information, including:
- Your email address
- Your Social Security number
- Your mailing address in the United States
Next, log into the account you’ve created and click the option on the main page to “View earnings record.”
Image source: Social Security.
When you choose to view your record, you’ll see a table showing the work year, amount of taxed Social Security earnings, and amount of taxed Medicare earnings for each year you had countable income.
There are different columns for Social Security and Medicare earnings because you pay Medicare taxes on the entire amount of money you earn, but you pay Social Security tax only on income up to the annual wage base limit. This limit changes annually and, when benefits are calculated, only income up to the taxable limit is factored in. The limit is pretty high — it’s $137,700 in 2020 — and unless your income exceeds it, the earnings in both columns should be the same.
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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Checking Your Social Security Earnings Record
How confident are you that your Social Security earnings record is accurate?
Unless youve checked it recently, you shouldnt be too sure.
Mistakes in an individuals Social Security earnings record are actually much more common than most people think. In tax year 2012 alone, the Social Security Administration reported $71 billion in wages that could not be matched to an individuals earnings record! The good news is that the Social Security Administration has a system for sorting out some of these mistakes and assigning the earnings to the correct record. But nearly half of the mismatches are never corrected. That means that in 2012 there were approximately $35 billion in wages that was never credited to an individuals Social Security history.
What Is A Social Security Benefit Verification Letter
The Benefit Verification letter, sometimes called a “budget letter,” a “benefits letter,” a “proof of income letter,” or a “proof of award letter,” serves as proof of your retirement, disability, Supplemental Security Income , or Medicare benefits. You may use your letter for loans, housing assistance, mortgage, and for other income verification purposes. You can also use it to prove that you don’t receive benefits, have applied for benefits, or that you have never received Social Security benefits or SSI.
In addition to name, date of birth, and the benefits received, the Benefit Verification letter includes other identifiers to prevent misuse and fraud.
New Social Security Statements
The Social Security Administration has redesigned Social Security statements to include more information and be easier to read. The new Social Security statements provide personalized estimates of your future Social Security benefit at nine different potential claiming ages, as opposed to three ages on the previous statements. Your Social Security statement also contains information about your earnings history, taxes paid, Medicare eligibility and disability and survivor’s benefits. The statement can be viewed online via a my Social Security account and will be mailed to workers age 60 and older who don’t have a my Social Security account.
Copyright 2021 U.S. News & World Report
How Do Benefits Work And How Can I Qualify
While you work, you pay Social Security taxes. This tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to:
Those who are currently retired
To people with disabilities
To the surviving spouses and children of workers who have died
Each year you work, youll get credits to help you become eligible for benefits when its time for you to retire. Find all the benefits Social Security Administration offers.
There are four main types of benefits that the SSA offers:
Learn about earning limits if you plan to work while receiving Social Security benefits