You probably don't remember the last time you received a Social Security statement in the mail. That's because in 2011, the Social Security Administration stopped mailing annual benefit statements as a cost-saving measure. In 2017, the Social Security Administration decided to only mail paper statements to people who are 60 or older that haven't established an online MySocialSecurity account and who are not yet receiving Social Security benefits.
Just because you don't receive your statement in the mail anymore doesn't mean you should completely disregard it. Pulling your unique Social Security Statement has many benefits.
Why Should You Pull Your Social Security Statement?
It’s a good idea to still pull your Social Security Statement annually for a few different reasons. The most obvious being knowing how much you can expect to receive each month after you retire from the Social Security Administration. Your Social Security statement will contain an estimate of how much you will receive if you begin taking benefits at age 62, your full retirement age, and age 70. Knowing these numbers is an essential part of retirement planning.
It’s also important to check your Social Security Statement for errors. Your Social Security Statement provides you with a complete earnings history and the total payroll taxes paid on those earnings throughout your career. In some cases, you may find mistakes in your Social Security record that could negatively impact the amount of benefits you’ll receive later on (either after you retire, or if you should become disabled). If that’s the case, it’s important to correct them before you start to claim your Social Security benefits. The SSA has a handy guide on how to do that HERE.
The Social Security Statement isn't just for retirement planning. It also shows you what benefit amount you would be eligible for if you become disabled and what your family will get if you die. These figures are helpful in making decisions surrounding the need for disability and life insurance.
Wait - How Does This All Work Again?
If you’re not entirely sure how Social Security works, you’re not alone. Many Americans know the basics - that they contribute to Social Security, and that they may be eligible for benefits someday. But there are a few other important things to know.
Social Security was established in 1935 by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It was intended to create a support system for the elderly on a federal level. Essentially, workers make contributions to the program over the course of their employed years. Then, when it’s your turn to retire, you receive benefits.
Of course, as time has gone on, the value of Social Security benefits has slowly declined. This is partially because of how our economy has scaled. The cost of living is much more than it ever use to be. It’s also because of the population growth the United States has experienced. Essentially, the program isn’t able to support as many people as it currently does - which means the benefits you receive from the SSA in retirement (or due to being disabled and unable to work) have slowly decreased . This is why the SSA currently recommends that you estimate your Social Security benefits as being no more than a 40% replacement of your total existing income.
How Do You Pull Your Social Security Statement?
The best part about pulling your Social Security Statement is that it’s incredibly easy, and takes no more than a few minutes. Follow these steps to get started:
Step One: Head on over to the official Social Security Administration website here: https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
Step Two: Press either the “Sign In or Create An Account” button in the center of the page, or “Sign In/Sign Up” at the top right of the web page.
Step Three: Press “Create an Account” on the bottom of the sign in page.
Step Four: Agree to the “Terms of Service” and press “Next.”
Step Five: Fill out your personal information.
Step Six: The Social Security Administration needs to verify who you are. Some of these questions pertain to your previous financial records - such as mortgage loans, credit cards, or student loans. If you can’t remember these answers off-hand, consider having your credit report or financial records handy. Alternatively, you can have a spouse or family member with you to help.
Step Seven: Set up your username and password, verify your identity with a passcode. You can choose whether this passcode is texted to your cell phone or emailed to you. Pick whichever is easiest for you to access.
Step Eight: View your Social Security Statement, estimated benefits, and more!
What Are You Waiting For?
Pulling your Social Security statement is a fast, easy way to get a ballpark idea of what kind of benefits you can expect to receive in retirement. Additionally, setting up a SSA account online offers you several other benefits - like being able to request a duplicate Social Security card if you lose yours, organizing your disability or retirement paperwork, and being able to use one of their many retirement planning calculators.
And, as I mentioned before, the best part is that it only takes a few minutes to get yourself signed up with an online account. Once you do that, you’ll always have access to this information, which will help you better prepare for your best retirement!
Was this article helpful?
Sign up and I'll send you more like this every two weeks!
You Might Also Like:
Desmond Henry is a fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and founder of Afflora Financial Life Planning in Topeka, Kansas. He helps the retiring/retired plan their finances and invest their money. CLICK HERE to learn more.