Online Services

Why It Pays To Keep A Careful Eye On Your Earnings Record

August 10, 2017 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 3, 2023

smiling woman sitting at desk Whether you’re ready to retire, just joining the workforce, or somewhere in between, regularly reviewing your Social Security earnings record could make a big difference when it’s time to collect your retirement benefits.

Just think, in some situations, 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.

Social Security prevents many mistakes from ever appearing on your earnings record. On average, we process about 236 million W-2 wage reports from employers, representing more than $5 trillion in earnings. More than 98 percent of these wages are successfully posted with little problem.

But 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. We rely on you to 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 personal my Social Security account.
  • Under the “My Home” tab, click on “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.

If you notice that you need to correct your earnings record, check out our one-page fact sheet, How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record.

Sooner is definitely better when it comes to identifying and reporting problems with your earnings record. As time passes, you may no longer have past tax documents and some employers may no longer be in business or able to provide past payroll information.

If it turns out everything in your earnings record is correct, you can use the information and our online calculators on our Benefit Calculators page to plan for your retirement and prepare for the unexpected, such as becoming disabled or leaving behind survivors. We use your top 35 years of earnings when we calculate your benefit amounts. You can learn more about how your benefit amount is calculated with our publication, Your Retirement Benefit: How It’s Figured.

We’re with you throughout life’s journey, from starting your first job to receiving your well-earned first retirement payment. Learn more about the services we provide online.

Did you find this Information helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!


See Comments

About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. SOHANI A.

    What s the social Security Number, 07011…………….1
    I am extremely grate full to you
    Best regards

  2. SOHANI A.

    Thank for Your time

  3. Patrick J.

    I am a tax payer like you all work as a unions carpenter

  4. Nicol L.

  5. Terrilyn B.

  6. Eleanor Y.

    This stuff is very well written. The blog post was informational to readers who have a good value for articles. We look forward for more of the same. He has outlined each and everything extremely nicely and in brief.

  7. Dedra R.

  8. Darla S.

    I just signed up for social security, but, I noticed 2016 wages have not been recorded yet,, will they pick this up when going over my application ? Iam sure it would make a difference in my monthly amount. I searched for the anwser to my question, but was unable to find one. Thank You,

    • Ann C.

      Thanks for your question, Darla. Yes, we will ask you to review your earnings record when you file your application for retirement benefits. To correct your earnings record now, you will need to go into your local Social Security office. When you go, you will need to provide proper ID and evidence of your missing earnings, such as W-2s, pay stubs, etc. Please read our publication “How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record” for more information. You can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to make an appointment. 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. We hope this helps.

  9. Harry F.

    I am 65 and I have one year to go till I eligible for full retirement benefits. I work and my income for 2017 will exceed the earnings limit by 10,000 to pay medical bills not paid by insurance. A reduction in benefits will cause an economic hardship for me. What are my options?

  10. Mohd Q.

    Thanks for all info

Comments are closed.