According to a 2011 iOMe Challenge poll, half of those 18 to 29 years old believe the program won’t exist when they reach the full retirement age of 67.
To a certain extent, I can see why they’re skeptical. The Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees recently reported that if Congress doesn’t act, those retiring after 2035 will receive less than 100% of expected benefits.
Before you freak out, keep in mind that “less than 100%” doesn’t necessarily mean “zero.”
You should know better, but I’ll say it anyway: Don’t depend on Social Security benefits to fund your retirement. In April 2012, the average monthly benefit for retired workers was only about $1,230. Pretty pathetic, huh?
That said, you will probably receive a portion of your benefits. So carefully check your annual statement for accuracy.
It should come as no surprise, but, sometimes, your Social Security earnings are reported incorrectly. Don’t believe me? The Social Security Administration (SSA) itself warns,
Remember, it’s your earnings, not the amount of taxes you paid or the number of credits you’ve earned, that determine your benefit amount . . . If our records are wrong, you may not receive all the benefits to which you’re entitled.
Back in the old days, the SSA would mail you a summary of your lifetime earnings. Now, you can access your Social Security statement online. Compare your reported earnings to your tax returns. If you find an error, contact the SSA immediately.
Even if you think you’ll never receive a single Social Security payment, you can’t possibly know for sure. Just in case, make sure you receive the amount you’re entitled to—however little that might be.