Just when you thought Social Security benefit statements had become extinct… they’re back! Benefits statements used to be mailed out every year, which were stopped in 2011 in order to save $70 million in annual costs. Benefit statements were still available, but only online. To get your statement, 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 username and password for the account. Once you have an account, you can view your Social Security Statement online at any time.
Unfortunately, only 6% of all workers signed up at the site. Social Security will begin sending statements again this September. Benefits statements will be sent every five years, not annually, and only to workers who haven’t signed up online. Workers will be sent statements at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60.
The benefit statement contains an estimate of monthly benefits at various claiming ages and for disability claims. More importantly, it displays the worker’s history of income subject to Social Security tax. This is a record of all payroll taxes received from the worker. It is important to review your benefit statement to verify your tax payments are credited correctly. Budget cuts have led to sharp reductions in customer service. Nationwide, Social Security staff is down to 62,000, from a peak of 70,000 in the 1990s. If taxes aren’t credited properly, your benefit will not be calculated correctly at retirement. You don’t want to step up to the payment window at age 67 only to find out they recorded half the money you paid in. The burden of proof will be on you. Don’t wait for Social Security to mail you a statement every five years. Sign up online and check your benefits annually.