Guest Bloggers, Taxes

Knowing where you stand now with Social Security will pay off

March 23, 2017 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: March 23, 2017

beth kobliner For most people, Social Security is a mystery. We see that 6.2 percent deduction on our pay stubs and wonder: What does it mean for my financial future? The answers: A lot. And not enough.

After tax season, take a few minutes to go online and read your Social Security statement. Even if your retirement is 30 or 40 years away, you need to know where you stand now. The Government Accountability Office tells us that nearly a third of households with members ages 55 and up have no retirement savings plan or pension in place—zip. That means Social Security is the only post-retirement pay they’ll get – and the estimated average monthly benefit for retirees (as of 2017) is just $1,360. (See what I mean by “not enough”?)

And women (lucky us!) have special reasons to worry. In a survey released in December 2016, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies reported that men claimed to have more than three times the retirement savings women have. Yes, it appears that the dreaded Pay Gap has a retired older cousin called the Retirement Gap. (Oh, and because women live longer than men, on average, you’ll probably need to save for two or three more years of retirement.)

To check up on your Social Security, log on to, and follow the instructions to view your Social Security Statement. It will show you how much you’re currently eligible for, depending on when you start receiving Social Security benefits. Your monthly benefit amount increases the longer you delay your retirement, up to age 70. People get a smaller monthly benefit if they take early retirement, at age 62, than they would get at full retirement age (67 for anyone born in 1960 or later). Keep working until you turn 70, and you’ll get quite a bit more each month in retirement. Your online Statement breaks it all down.

You can also find out the monthly amount you’re eligible for if you become disabled and can’t work – and whether your family qualifies for survivor benefits in the event of your death.

Confronting your Social Security status annually will give you a much-needed reality check. Could you survive on what the government will send to you each month? (The short answer: Don’t count on it.) How much – and how quickly – do you need to start saving in a 401(k) or IRA? (Hint: the maximum – now.)

So now you know. Social Security needs to be part of your annual financial checkup. Because inspecting the old safety net might inspire you to start saving now so you will have enough to fall back on in retirement.


The Social Security Administration thanks Beth for her guest blog on Social Security Matters. We do not endorse any particular financial advisory product or service.

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  1. Celeste E.

    I am so grateful for my dad…letting me sit at the dining room table every month, watching him pay the bills with his paycheck, and seeing him faithfully write out a savings account deposit slip for 10-15% before writing any checks for bills and deciding on any new purchases. He was an immigrant with a 5th grade education, and never made more than a laborer’s wage, but he knew he had to save for his and mom’s “old age”.

  2. Estelle A.

    I have applied for SS spousal benefits in Feb. 2016, and after being sent a Foreign Enforcement Questionnaire, which I filled in and sent immediately, I haven’t heard anything regarding whether or not I will receive any benefits. I can’t think of any reason for this. I am 64. my husband turned 66 in June. I was told that even if he doesn’t receive any benefits, I still would.. once he reached FRA. What would be the reason for this delay?

  3. Judy t.

    Hi! In august 2013 started to collect widowers benefits on my deceased husbands social security. 10.1.17 i will retire. How much percentage decrease will be taken in my widowers benefit should i expect? Medicare become effective 10.01.17 will turn 65 in october. Dont want to draw on my social security yet. Want to get another job. Thank you very much for your time

    • Kenny O.

      Hello Judy. Unfortunately, your question is a bit more complex and not what we can handle in this forum. For your security, we do not have access to information about your account. Please continue working with your local Social Security office or call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and speak to one of our representatives. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks.

  4. Kate J.

    I will be 70 years old in about two months. I have been receiving social security payments under my late ex-husband’s account because it was more than mine at the time I retired. How do I check if this is still the case, and if mine would be more, how do I change it? Is there a deadline for making this change?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Kate. Great questions! Once you have started receiving benefits, you will have to file a new claim to switch to other benefits. To schedule an appointment and to see if you qualify for a higher benefit than what you are currently receiving, call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Or you can contact your local office directly. We suggest that you contact us prior to your 70th birthday. Thanks!

  5. Jed

    You really make it appear really easy along with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually something that I think I would by no means understand. It seems too complex and very large for me. I’m having a look forward on your next publish, I’ll try to get the cling of it!

  6. Bob M.

    I am about to retire and become an employee of a contract employer. I am well above full retirement age. Is there any way my social security benefits can be affected by the number of hours I work for my new employer each month?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Bob. If you work and are full retirement age or older, the amount you make at work will not affect your Social Security benefits, no matter how much you earn. Please read our publication “How Work Affects Your Benefits” for more information.

  7. H P.

    Good Day, Ray:

    I’m currently receiving Social Security (S S) and have been since June 30, 2009; the month I turned 62 years of age. My wife has been on Social Security Disability since 2010. In the event of her demise, am I entitled to any -and if so – how much of her Social Security? She is, currently, receiving $1,780.10 per month and my S S amount is $1,609.90 per month.

    H. Peter Wilson

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question Mr. Wilson. If you’re eligible for survivor’s benefits, the monthly amount you would get is a percentage of the deceased’s basic Social Security benefit. It depends on your age and the type of benefit you would be eligible to receive. Next, when a person is eligible to more than one benefit at the same time, that person’s benefit amount can never exceed the highest single benefit amount to which that person is entitled. Also, keep in mind that if a person begins to receive benefits at age 62 or prior to their full retirement age, their benefits are reduced. The reduction factors are permanently applied to all of the benefits the person may qualify for. Each person’s situation is different, and you will have to talk to a Social Security representative for specifics in your case. We hope this information helps.

  8. Ruben

    After I retired and became elgible for SS I applied. I was to get close to 800.00 a month. I have a pension which I paid for. When I applied for SS I was told I would only get 150.00 a month,and not gthe 800.00 I thought I would get . I was told that because I have a pension that I paid for ,All I could get was 150.00 a month. People who never paid into it are getting more than me.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your comment Ruben. A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies, such as police officers and some teachers) may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your benefits can be reduced based on one of two provisions. Your own Social Security benefit can be reduced based on the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP can affect how we calculate your benefit amount, resulting in a lower Social Security benefit than you otherwise would receive. The other provision that can affect your spouse’s or widower’s benefits from Social Security is called the Government Pension Offset.

  9. Ruth L.

    I “filed and suspended” my SSA benefit last year at age 66. Yesterday I got a letter saying “We changed your monthly benefit to $x,xxx” as of March 2017. We found that your prior amount was incorrect. We cannot pay you monthly benefits at this time.” That’s all it says. No information about why it was changed or what the prior amount was. My online statement doesn’t give any monthly benefit information. Only the list of my contributions appear. Where can I find information on my “prior” monthly benefit?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Ruth. Unfortunately and because of security reasons we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot answer your question at this time. One of our representatives should be able to provide you with an explanation and answer your questions about this matter. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 Monday to Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or visit your local Social Security office for further assistance. When calling our toll free number, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day, or later in the week, thanks.

  10. adri s.

    I get benefits on the1st and the 3rd but my3rd benefits have Been late for the past 3 months because they had said I could work and while it was in appeal I could get continued benefits but the check on the3rd was held up for some reason you have to ask for each benefit separately they don’t just count as “your benefits” so now they’ve determined that I’m still disabled and everything was supposed to return to regular payments on the1st and 3rd however I didn’t receive my benefits on time in February it was 2 weeks late then in March almost 3 weeks late now April I haven’t received it yet and it will end up almost a month late I’ll bet so actually what they’ve done is managed to skip a whole month of paying me if they make it so late that it rotates into the next month! I feel like there is someone at ss administration that hates me and they are using their power over my life to make me suffer.. How can they continue to do this to me? I’m losing everything because I am late on everything and the fees are piling up.. They won’t give me extra to cover the fees that they’ve caused will they? What am I supposed to do? How can I stop this? Why haven’t I received my check??

    • Ray F.

      We apologize for the delay and inconveniences you are experiencing. Unfortunately, but for your security, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please continue working with your local office. You should be allowed to speak with the manager to see how we can help to expedite resolution of your situation. If you are unable to visit the local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks.

    • Bill B.

      Why do you get two benefits from social security is my question to you unless one is from a private pension and social security has nothing to do with that delay?

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