You probably noticed you are no longer receiving an annual Social Security benefit statement in the mail. The administration quit mailing out the statements last year. The statement was helpful for retirement planning because it showed the estimated benefit one would receive if they applied for benefits at a specified age. This information is still available through the Social Security website on their benefit estimator.
The estimator is helpful for retirement planning, but it lacks an important piece of information that was provided in the old paper statements – your earnings record. Social Security benefits are based on your average monthly earnings during the highest 35 years of your working career. The monthly earnings are indexed to inflation and a formula is applied to determine your benefit. It is very important that Social Security captures this information correctly. After all, your Social Security taxes were based on these earnings. You want to make sure you get credit for all your payments.
Now you can create an online statement that will provide all the information you used to get on the paper statements. To get your statement online, you must first create an account on the Social Security website. The site requires you to provide some personal information about yourself and then answer a few unique questions that will be used to confirm your identity the next time you log in. The site instructs you to create a user name and password for the account. Once you have an account, you can view your Social Security Statement online at any time.
I recommend establishing an account and checking your benefits each year before you file away your income taxes. Notify Social Security immediately if you find any discrepancies. The site provides instructions to help correct any errors. There is even a print option that creates a PDF copy of the statement that looks the same as the form they used to mail.