Being vigilant pays off, especially when it comes to your Social Security benefits. One small clerical error on your yearly earnings records could lead to a substantial loss of income.
As of 2018, less than half of the 39 million Americans with online Social Security accounts had checked their earnings statements over the previous 12 months.
Your 35 highest-paid years of earnings, along with what age you choose to retire, are what the government uses to calculate what you get each year once you start claiming Social Security benefits. Waiting until full retirement age (between 66-67 depending on your birthday) will allow you to collect the full monthly benefit. Some may choose to claim benefits as early as 62 with a reduction of funds each month, or even as late as 70 to claim an even greater sum.
No one likes missing out on money, so take a little time to look over your earnings records and make sure that everything matches up with your own files. Be proactive about checking those reports year after year to make sure you are getting the most you can, or at least not losing anything because someone forgot to add a zero somewhere.
Per USA Today:
Be vigilant to avoid losing out on Social Security benefits
Your annual Social Security statements show what your taxable earnings look like, how much you’ve paid in Social Security and Medicare taxes, and what your monthly benefit might look like based on that information. But if these statements contain mistakes about your earnings, it could impact the amount you ultimately collect in benefits.
Imagine you earned $60,000 last year, only for some reason, the Social Security Administration (SSA) shows no income for you on file. That $0 could bring down your average wage over the 35-year period used to determine your benefits, thereby slashing your monthly payments.
That’s why it’s so important to review your Social Security statements year after year. If you’re 60 or older, you’ll get a copy of those statements in the mail, so all you need to do is not toss them out, and examine them instead. If you’re not yet 60, you’ll need to create an account on the SSA’s website and access your statements there. Then, if you spot an error, you’ll need to report it to the SSA immediately. The agency might ask for proof of your claim in return, such as pay stubs, tax returns, or any information that supports your assertions.
Don’t give up Social Security money that’s rightfully yours
As of 2018, less than half of the 39 million Americans with online Social Security accounts had checked their earnings statements over the previous 12 months. This means that a large chunk of workers are at risk of seeing their benefits lowered because of a reporting or administrative glitch. If you’d rather that not happen, set a yearly calendar reminder to log onto the SSA’s website and review your statements. And if you’re eligible to get yours in the mail, for the love of your future income, don’t throw them away until you’ve had a chance to read them thoroughly.