What Is a Social Security Statement? And Why You Should Be Checking It

The Social Security Administration no longer mails paper Social Security statements to most people under age 60. Younger workers who want to check their earnings history or taxes paid need to create a my Social Security account to obtain their statement online.

Here’s why you should view your Social Security benefit statement:

— Find out how much you will get when you retire.

— See what happens if you become disabled.

— Take note of how much your family will receive if you die.

— Check your earnings record.

— Verify your Social Security and Medicare contributions.

[Read: Why You Should Create a My Social Security Account.]

What Is a Social Security Statement?

Your Social Security statement gives you a personalized estimate of how much you will receive from Social Security if you retire or become disabled, and how much your family members might be eligible for if you die. The statement also lists your earnings record that will be used to determine your Social Security payments, which you can review and correct if necessary.

How to Get Your Social Security Statement

You need to create a my Social Security account at ssa.gov/myaccount in order to view your Social Security statement. “Set up your access like any other financial site and check your Social Security data any time you want,” says Andy Landis, author of “Social Security: The Inside Story.”

You must verify your identity by answering questions about personal information to set up an online account. Account holders will need to enter a username and password as well as a one-time security code sent to their phone or email address each time they log in.

How Much You Will Get From Social Security When You Retire

Most Social Security statements contain an estimate of how much you will receive if you sign up for Social Security at your full retirement age, age 62 and age 70. The full retirement age is 66 for most baby boomers and 67 for everyone born in 1960 or later.

“The statement shows clearly that the longer you wait to claim benefits, the more you get each month,” says Jonathan Peterson, author of “Social Security For Dummies.” “Over time, the difference can be many thousands of dollars, so it makes a lot of sense to look at the projections at different retirement ages and think about what they mean for you.”

For example, a worker eligible for $1,680 a month at age 67 would get just $1,159 monthly at age 62, but his benefit would increase to $2,094 each month if he delayed signing up until age 70. However, it’s important to note that these benefit estimates assume Social Security law will remained unchanged and that you will continue to earn your current salary, both of which could change in the future. The statement will also let you know if you have not yet worked long enough to qualify for benefits.

[READ: How Much You Will Get From Social Security.]

What Happens If You Become Disabled

Social Security benefits aren’t just for retirees. Your Social Security statement will also tell you the benefit amount you will be eligible for if you become disabled in the coming year.

How Much Your Family Members Will Receive If You Die

Social Security pays out benefits to families when a breadwinner passes away. Your dependent children and a spouse caring for those children will likely both be eligible for payments upon your death, and the amount they will get is on your statement. Your spouse may also receive retirement benefits based on your work record, even if you die before retirement. A spouse or minor child may additionally be eligible for a one-time death benefit when you pass away.

Check Your Earnings Record

Your Social Security statement typically lists every year you have worked and how much you earned. “Sometimes your income does not get properly reported to Social Security,” says Brian Vosberg, a certified financial planner and author of “The Complete Retiree’s Guide to Social Security.” “Checking annually will help guarantee accuracy.” The 35 years in which you have the highest earnings are used to calculate your retirement payout.

[Read: Social Security Changes Coming in 2021]

Verify Your Social Security and Medicare Contributions

Under your earnings chart, the statement lists the total amount you have paid into Social Security and Medicare throughout your career. It’s a good idea to double-check these amounts to make sure you are getting credit for your contributions.

Workers are required to pay 6.2% of their pay into Social Security up to $142,800 and 1.45% of all earnings into Medicare in 2021, which employers match. Self-employed workers pay 12.4% of their earnings into Social Security and 2.9% into Medicare. Those who earn more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples) pay an additional 0.9% in Medicare taxes.

More from U.S. News

The Most Popular Ages to Collect Social Security

10 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know

10 Strategies to Maximize Social Security

What Is a Social Security Statement? And Why You Should Be Checking It originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 04/12/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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