If retirement is becoming more of a reality than a far-off aspiration, you’ve probably spent some time looking into Social Security. I’ve written a few posts lately about Social Security (on when to elect benefits and the importance of knowing about spousal benefits).
One very important tool that can help you make decisions on both of those issues — and many others — is your Social Security statement. As a money-saving move, the agency retired print statements for all workers a couple years ago. After a backlash by retirees, mailing of printed statements has restarted, but only to those ages 60 and over. This same information is now available to all workers online. It’s worth a visit.
Available when you create a my Social Security account at ssa.gov/myaccount, your personal Social Security statement shows:
- Future benefits estimate.
- Your earnings record.
- The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.
Once you create your my Social Security account, you’ll start on the Overview tab. This shows your estimated benefit at your full retirement age, as well as your last reported earnings.
You can also click on the Estimated Benefits tab at the top of your my Social Security account to see estimates of your retirement benefits at age 70, and at your early retirement age.
This information alone is worth creating an account. When you see how much your benefits will increase over time, you may decide that delaying benefits is a pretty smart idea.
The Estimated Benefits tab also shows an estimate of monthly disability benefits, as well as any benefits your family may receive when you die. And it tells you if you’ve worked enough to qualify for Medicare.
Next, go to the Earnings Record tab and take a trip back in time. You should see records of your earnings throughout your work life. Look over this information carefully. If you see an error, go to the top of that page and click on “Contact us about errors…” to find out how to get it corrected. I think you can imagine how important it is to set any errors right.
If you haven’t set up your my Social Security account, or if it’s been a few years since you reviewed your statement, take a few minutes to log in. The information you’ll find will help you make some critical decisions about your Social Security benefits in the years to come.
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