A tight budget in 2011 forced the Social Security Administration (SSA) into a lengthy hiatus from mailing annual benefit statements. However, this year some workers will begin receiving statements again.
Beginning in September 2014, SSA will resume mailing paper statements to workers every five years. Unless you have created an online account, SSA will mail you benefit statements at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and then each year beginning at age 60.
But you don’t need to wait for these paper statements. You can access your Social Security records anytime online by creating a “My Social Security” account at www.socialsecurity.gov. You’ll need to answer a number of those annoying personal identifiers that deeply frustrate those who can’t recall details from the past. Make sure you’re close to your computer, filing cabinet, or spouse who remembers this kind of information for both of you.
Mental Health Break: Social Security has resorted to hiring cats to entice humans to view and sign up for their benefits online.
Whether you get your copy by mail or electronically, make sure every year of your earnings history is reported correctly. Although errors are rare, simple data entry mistakes on Social Security number errors sometimes cause an employer reporting problem or a Social Security recording problem. If you do find errors on your statement, call the SSA immediately at 1-800-772-1213 or schedule an in-person meeting. Your W-2 or tax return for the years in question is required.
You’ll need to input your entire earnings history to identify the best years to begin claiming Social Security. A number of calculators only use your monthly benefit estimate, but don’t use it to make one of the largest financial decisions of your life. The estimates often include false assumptions about your future expected earnings that can result in suboptimal recommendations. If you do not work with a financial adviser who specializes in Social Security optimization, Social Security Solutions is your best source for direct help in making your claiming decision.