Monitoring Your Earnings Can Really Pay Off

" "You work hard for your money. You’re saving and planning for a secure retirement. Now you need to make sure you’re going to get all the money you deserve. Regularly reviewing your Social Security earnings record can really pay off, especially when every dollar counts in retirement.

If an employer did not properly report just one year of your work earnings to us, your future benefit payments from Social Security could be close to $100 per month less than they should be. Over the course of a lifetime, that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in retirement or other benefits to which you are entitled. Sooner is definitely better when it comes to identifying and reporting problems with your earnings record. As time passes, you may no longer have easy access to past tax documents, and some employers may no longer be in business or able to provide past payroll information.

It’s ultimately the responsibility of your employers — past and present — to provide accurate earnings information to Social Security so you get credit for the contributions you’ve made through payroll taxes. But you can inform us of any errors or omissions. You’re the only person who can look at your lifetime earnings record and verify that it’s complete and correct.

So, what’s the easiest and most efficient way to validate your earnings record?

  • Visit our website to set up or sign in to your own my Social Security account;
  • Under the “My Home” tab, select “Earnings Record” to view your online Social Security Statement and taxed Social Security earnings;
  • Carefully review each year of listed earnings and use your own records, such as W-2s and tax returns, to confirm them;
  • Keep in mind that earnings from this year and last year may not be listed yet; and
  • Notify us right away if you spot errors by calling 1-800-772-1213.

More detailed instructions on how to correct your Social Security earnings record can be found by reading How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record.

Securing today and tomorrow requires accuracy and diligence on our part and yours. You’ll be counting on Social Security when you reach retirement age. Make sure you’re getting every dollar you’ve earned. You can have access to us any time.

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34 thoughts on “Monitoring Your Earnings Can Really Pay Off

  1. Thank you Jim, for keeping us retirees up to date on matters concerning the most effective branch of the federal government, the SSA!

    • I agree that you have to make sure you have all your records in order. It seems that SSA likes to add more to your supposed retirement amount then you actually draw. Found out that the SSA added a few more dollars to my 1099 then I actually drew this year.

  2. For me, not having a US address, since I am currently living in Israel , I do not qualify to have – my social security account. For this reason I don”t know how to have access to my life long earning record.
    I kept all my tax returns since 1969. It will be nice if I could have access to my earnings record, to make sure I have not lost any years.
    I imagine if the restriction on accounts for Americans living overseas, is removed, you will notify us somehow.
    Thank you

    • If I were you I would give them an address of a family member or a friend and tell them that’s your address. The social security online is so messed up that I haven’t been able to access my account for over a month. When I call the 800 number there is always a 2-3 he wait time, which tells me hackers might be involved. I hope you can get what belongs to you, they have no right to keep it from you. Good Luck

  3. I can’t have an online access to my earning record and other information due to the restriction against Americans living overseas. We can’t have an account without a US address.
    I sure would like to review my earnings history to make sure that all years were accounted for.
    I imagine that in case the restriction is removed, that we will be notified.
    In the meantime, is tbere another way for us to review our eanings history ?
    Thank you,
    Fahmi Natour

  4. I wish the list could be printed in order from the most to the least income year so it could easy to see the years and the range of the top 35 years.

    • @Carolyn Kaufman: The list of earnings is chronological starting with the first year you worked all the way up to the present time. I held down 2-3 full and part time jobs from age 15 to 31, then one full time job at a time whilst operating a couple of side businesses from age 32-retirement. My yearly reported income is listed for every one of those 50 years, yet one quick glance – no more than 5-10 seconds – and it’s very easy to see which year(s) have the highest income amount(s). I honestly don’t understand what it is you’re having an issue with. Astonishing how impatient and lazy people have become in our Twitter society…

      • Was that necessary? Some people have a real problem reading their earning statement, it doesn’t mean they are lazy. Lazy is for someone like you to have nothing better to do in your busy work schedule than to read real questions and or problem that people need help with, and splatter your smart asxxx remarks on this blog. Grow up and go away.

  5. I worked almost 15 yrs for my former employer and I discovered they had not properly listed my earnings the first year I worked for them. Several letters and phone calls have made to this employer asking them to find their old records put in the basement of their former eligiblity office and they have sat on the requests from the Social SecurityAdministrative Office and me. Is there anything that can be done now?

    • Your payments are computed on your highest 35 years for retirement benefits after adjusting older earnings for inflation. Congress decided to provide incentive to work 35 years or more to receive the highest rewards from the system. The agency is not reducing your payments. It appears instead that you were not able to contribute 35 years of work. In effect, your lifetime earnings include 9 years of zero earnings reducing the average monthly wage upon which your payments are computed. Your payment will be figured with exactly the contributions you have made.

      This is a forum for comments on the topic offered. It is not a general blog. Your local office can review your record and see if there is a way to correct it.

      Also, there is nothing the agency can do to correct the law. That is entirely the responsibility of Congress. If you have a complaint about the law, that is where you should direct your attention. Nothing will get changed by complaining to the agency, where everyone takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and the law.

  6. Hi Dear SSA Staff!

    I had locked to see SSA.Gov online by An Local SSA agent reconmmended me last few months ago, i dont know why?

    Can you re open to Log in to see online access from Blocked to access online SSA my account?

    Thank you!

    If any reason or reconmmend about it please text or contact me at (702)353-6288.

  7. Thank you so much for this caring reminder. I am at retirement age but am not retired. I spent many years of my life in a religious community and was of course not paid for my work but then, every need was provided for. Now I am out in the world again and have to start from scratch. It’s a challenge and if it’s really true that one needs « millions » to retire comfortably, unless I win the lottery that will never be my lot. However I am blessed with wonderful health and a happy and optimistic disposition plus a skill that is in demand, so I still look at the future with confidence. However I will check!

  8. Please explain how one year of earnings can make $100 / month difference in a Social Security benefit. If you earned $75,000 and used the “high-35” average by dividing it by 420 months (35 years) and then multiplying by the formula (32% or 15%)… you either get $57 or $27 / month… this is assuming that the earnings for that year would be computed outside of the 90% portion of the formula. What am I missing?

  9. I have been on SS for several year, and I started working about 32 month ago. And they take SS out .
    How will this effect my mounthly SD ch, and when.
    Robert Lee Garnett
    —-/—/4135

    • Hello Robert. Thank you for your question. Everyone working in covered employment or self-employment regardless of age or eligibility for benefits must pay Social Security taxes. Also, you will have to pay Federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a Federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. For more income tax related questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. We hope this helps.

  10. Worked with this company for just about 40 yrs. Received a severance package which runs out in May. The question is I’m 61 and plan not to work anymore. Money for living will come from my 401. If I don’t work until 66 yrs of age will I get the full amount from my previous employer.

    • Hi, Raymond. Thanks for your question. Your payment amount is based on when you decide to start your benefits, once you have reached your age of entitlement. If you choose to get benefits before full retirement age, which it sounds like is 66 for you, they will be reduced. Your benefits are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age. To get an accurate estimate of your retirement based on your Social Security earnings, visit our Retirement Estimator. We hope this helps.

  11. I am a non- citizen wife, my husband died 10/13/2017, I am residing here in Japan.. Can I get my Social Security Benifets?

    • Thank you for your question, Gene, and we are very sorry for your loss. If your husband worked long enough under Social Security, there may be benefits payable to survivors. You may be eligible for reduced widows benefits as early as age 60 (age 50 if disabled) and at any age if caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled and receiving benefits on the deceased’s record. Survivor benefit amounts are based on your husband’s earnings. The more he paid into Social Security, the higher the benefits would be. The benefits will not be established automatically, you will have to contact us. For additional information, visit our Survivors Planner.

      We recommend that individuals living outside the United States contact the nearest Federal Benefit Unit or U.S. embassy in the area for any assistance related to Social Security programs and benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad.

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