Have you checked your Social Security earnings record lately?

For a lot of people, the answer is: “No.” Many may not even know what a Social Security earnings record is.

Maybe you think it’s enough to know the basics of the benefits program that supports millions of older Americans.

We know the Social Security Administration uses our 35 highest-earning years to calculate benefits.

We also know that delaying benefits past full retirement age means we’ll get larger checks.

But what if the numbers are off? What if the SSA somehow missed one of your top earning years?

That’s why checking your Social Security earnings record yearly will help you out in the long run. And you shouldn’t wait until you’re near retirement age to do this.

To be fair, the folks at the SSA are good at their job. The agency actually claimed a 99.9% benefits payment accuracy back in 2014.

So they should get your benefits calculation right. But it’s always good to double-check.

As you work toward retirement, you should make a habit of checking the numbers to make sure they line up.

Let’s look at how easy it is to check your Social Security earnings record.

How to Check Your Social Security Earnings Record

Checking your earnings record isn’t a huge chore. In fact, it’s easy.

The first thing you need to do is set up a “my Social Security” account at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.

While you are there, check out the SSA’s new retirement portal to learn how to maximize Social Security as part of your retirement plan.

You only need three things to set up this crucial account:

  • An email address
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your U.S. mailing address

Once you have logged into your new account, you’ll have a variety of options and tools at your fingertips.

Look for the button that says “View Earnings Record.”

Clicking that button will show a table breaking down every year you have worked, and the amount of taxed Social Security earnings. You’ll also see the amount of taxed Medicare earnings.

You can compare those numbers to what’s on your W2 and other tax documents to make sure everything is in line.

 Why Checking Your Earnings Record Is Important

The SSA may have a great track record for paying out the right amount.

But that doesn’t mean you should be lax about your Social Security earnings record.

There’s a chance your employer might  accidently report the wrong income.

Remember, all these companies and organizations are run by people — to err is human.

We all hate paperwork. But if you check once a year, there’s a better chance you’ll have what you need  on hand without having to dig through old files.

You may also run into issues if you changed your name after a marriage or divorce.

Check your Social Security earnings record once a year to make sure all your information is correct.

Any necessary changes will need to be reported to the SSA. That means you’ll need documentation like W2s and paystubs.

If your earnings record is wrong, you could end up getting less from Social Security when you retire.

And getting everything you can out of the program is key if you think you’ll rely on it heavily.

Checking your Social Security earnings record may be a bit tedious, but it will pay off in the long run — and it’s easy.

It’s one small step to make sure you get everything you are owed in your golden years.

• You can find all of the latest and most important news about Social Security here on Money & Markets.