Check Your Social Security Statement!
One of the cornerstones of a 401(k) education program is Social Security. Whenever we broach the topic during education meetings, it’s pretty easy to gauge the varying degrees of interest in the room. Typically, those in the 45-55 age bracket sit forward with a bit more interest, keen to learn how they might maximize their benefits, or how an earlier claiming strategy might be the better option. This is also the point in the meeting where the 25-35 year-old demographic starts to count the ceiling tiles or think about lunch. It makes sense: someone who’s 7-10 years out from benefit eligibility is a lot more likely to want to learn about Social Security claiming strategies than someone with a 40+ year time horizon.
But here’s a bit of Social Security education for everyone, regardless of age: go online and verify your information! It seems obvious enough, but many of us blindly trust that mistakes aren’t (or won’t) be made.
I was speaking with a friend just the other day, and he informed me that the Social Security Administration had incorrectly recorded his date of birth. A simple error in birth-date may impact your ability to claim at a particular age. Also, verify your earnings record. Earnings could be missing from your record for previous years for a number of reasons:
- An employer reported your earnings using the wrong name or Social Security number;
- An employer reported your earnings incorrectly;
- You got married or divorced and changed your name, but never reported the change to Social Security.
If something looks incorrect, you can contact Social Security to get it amended. You are your own, best advocate: an incomplete or inaccurate earnings record may reduce your benefits!
What can you do to verify your information?
Call (1-800-772-1213) or go to: ssa.gov and log on or create an account to get your Social Security statement, to review:
- Your name and date of birth;
- Estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits;
- Your earnings: verify the amounts posted are correct; and
- The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.
We pay into Social Security all our working lives; take a moment to make sure your statement is accurate!
Questions? Call us: (513) 834-9383