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Make Sure Your Social Security Account Statement Is Correct

by Shawanda Greene

Social Security Benefits and Tax StatementDo you think Social Security will be around when you retire?

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.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Crystal @ PET June 8, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Good point. I don't plan on receiving anything from SS, but I do think it is likely I will get something. I'll keep an eye on the online statements. Thanks!

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Shawanda June 15, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Yeah. I don’t factor Social Security benefits into my retirement savings calculations. But I do think it will be around when I’m older. I’m sure, more so then than now, you will not be able to depend on it.
Shawanda recently posted..Race to the Middle: Forget the Stars, Reach for the CloudsMy Profile

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femmefrugality June 9, 2012 at 12:19 PM

I don't think it'll be around when I'm old enough, but I certainly hope it is after all the money I've poured into it! I had no idea to check the online statements….THANK YOU. Will be checking this out.
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Shawanda June 15, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Glad I could help. The other great thing about the Social Security annual statement is it shows you how much money you’ve made over the years. After reading it, I wonder how in the heck my savings/investments aren’t higher. It looks like I’ve made a lot of money over the years.
Shawanda recently posted..Race to the Middle: Forget the Stars, Reach for the CloudsMy Profile

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Lance@MoneyLife&More June 10, 2012 at 9:40 AM

People my age that have never gotten a paper statement may not even know they are supposed to get a yearly statement. Thanks for spreading awareness. I had already checked a few weeks ago personally.
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Shawanda June 15, 2012 at 4:08 PM

During my first few working years, I don’t even think I noticed the statements when I received them in the mail. Without people spreading awareness, even those who’ve seen them before, would probably forget about them.
Shawanda recently posted..Race to the Middle: Forget the Stars, Reach for the CloudsMy Profile

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MyMoneyDesign.com June 12, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Ha – I was just working on a post about Social Security. Good points and nice job spreading the word! I'm in the camp that believes it will be around, but it will be SMALL. There would just have to be extreme sweeping problems for it to disappear completely. Otherwise everyone who paid into it would riot when they get nothing after all these years.
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Shawanda June 15, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Maybe we’ll receive enough to pay our Internet bills. :)
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