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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46 thoughts on “Monitoring Your Earnings Can Really Pay Off

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Both myself and my husband need to get another Current SS Award letter. I don’t remember getting them but due to a loan we are trying to get we both need the Award Letter. How do we go about getting another letter sent to our house.

    • Hi, Linda. If you need a benefit verification letter, you can view, print, and save your benefit verification letter by creating a personal my Social Security account online. For questions regarding your benefit verification letter, we ask that members in our Blog community contact our offices. You can call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day. We hope this helps.

  4. I am currently receiving half of my wife’s ss and deferring my ss until I turn 70. I will be 70 in August 2020, do I have to apply for ss or do I automatically start getting my new amount after my birthday
    Thanks
    JMC

    • Thanks for using our blog, Jeff. You need to apply for your Social Security retirement benefits. Our system is set up to take applications four months in advance, and when you’re ready, you can apply for your benefits online.

      You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

    • Hi Jeffrey, thank you for your question. Social Security has special rules that make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. These are called work incentives.

      For SSDI beneficiaries, there is a Trial Work Period (TWP) and then an Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). The TWP allows you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months. During this period, you will receive your full disability benefit regardless of how much you earn as long as your work activity is reported and you continue to have a disabling impairment. In 2020, any month in which earnings exceed $910 is considered a month of the 9-month trial work period.

      Once you’ve completed your TWP, you get a 36-month safety net called the EPE. During the EPE, you get benefits for all months your earnings or work activities are below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as long as you continue to have a disabling impairment. Social Security will suspend cash benefits for months earnings are over SGA and start benefits again if earnings fall below the SGA level. In 2020, you are earning SGA if your earnings, after any allowable deductions, are more than $1,260 in a month.

      Check out Social Security’s Red Book for descriptions of the many work incentives.

  5. I retired from the military after 21 years in 2004. Am I eligible for special extra earnings credit for my military service years?

    • Hello Tom. Since 1957, if you had military service earnings for active duty (including active duty for training), you paid Social Security taxes on those earnings. Since 1988, inactive duty service in the Armed Forces reserves (such as weekend drills) has also been covered by Social Security.

      Under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for periods of active duty from 1957 through 2001 can also be credited to your Social Security earnings record for benefit purposes.
      •If you were in the active military service from 1957 through 1967, special extra earnings are added to your earnings record when you apply for Social Security benefits.
      •If your active duty was after 1967, the extra earnings are already on your record.

      There are no special extra earnings credits for military service after 2001.

      These special earnings credits are added to your earnings record automatically when you apply for Social Security benefits.

      Please read our publication: Military Service and Social Security for more information. Thanks!

  6. do you have to pay taxes on social security you receive at full retirement age if you are still working?

    Age 66, full time work; receiving benefits

    • Hi Renee, thanks for using our blog. If you no longer have access to the second factor (cell phone or email address) on your account, and you need to change the second factor, you then can request a reset code online. The system will mail a reset code letter to the address on file. You then enter this reset code online, after signing in with your username and password, to change the second factor associated with your information. If you forgot your password, and the password reset questions didn’t work, we can send a temporary password in some circumstances. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on how to retrieve or change your username or password. We hope this helps.

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