Why you should Check your Social Security Earnings Record Regularly
Not nearly enough individuals are aware that they should be checking their Social Security earnings record at least once a year after reaching the age of 50. It’s crucial to check this information to ensure that it doesn’t contain any errors that could have a negative effect on your benefit payments when the time comes to withdraw them. Even the smallest error could have a tremendous impact on your retirement.
What is your Social Security Earnings Record?
Your Social Security Earnings Record is a timeline of any income you’ve received during the years that you’ve been working, and the benefits you eventually receive will be based off of the 35 years in which you earned the most money. If one of those years is mistakenly listed as a zero earning year, this will affect your benefit calculations and this will in turn cause you to receive smaller benefit checks than you should.
A simple error like this could result in you receiving as much as $100 a month less than you’re actually entitled to – and this can make the difference between barely surviving or at least being able to cover your expenses comfortably during retirement.
When you should Start Checking
In reality, it’s never too early to start checking your Social Security earnings report – so you can even start keeping records as soon as you start earning an income. However, individuals who haven’t yet checked their report should at least start doing so when reaching the age of 50. This will provide enough time to address and correct any errors that may crop up.
It’s possible to inspect your earnings report online by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. You will need to create an account if you don’t already have one set up and you’ll be able to log in at any time after doing this.
Keep in mind that a statute of limitations is in place with regards to the amount of time that can pass before any errors on your Social Security earnings report can be amended, and this is currently three years, three months and 15 days. Some exceptions to this ruling include deliberately fraudulent entries, clerical and/or mechanical errors.
What to do if Errors are Detected
If you discover any incorrect information, you will need to inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) immediately, and the best way to do this is by submitting a form referred to as the, “Request for Correction of Earnings Record.”
When filling this form out, you will be required to provide relevant evidence with regards to the wages that you’ve earned. Examples of paperwork that you may be asked to provide can include:
- Wage verification from an SSA-approved business or company
- Tax return documents
- Employee-issued or original pay stubs – these will need to include your full name, gross earnings, social security number and the timeframe covered
- W-2 paperwork
- Written and or/verbal statement from the relevant employer or company
It’s essential that you respond as promptly as possible to any correspondence that the SSA may send to you regarding errors that have been detected. This will help ensure that they are rectified as quickly as possible. Although an amount of $100 may not seem like a lot right now, it could make all the difference between being able to cover living expenses or not during retirement.