When it comes to Social Security most people are generally concerned with whether Social Security will be around for them or not and what is the best time for them to collect their benefit. Is it at 62, 66 or even waiting for 70? There is no doubt that these are important issues that need to be discussed. However, even before you discuss the future of Social Security and when you should collect, you need to make sure that the Social Security Administration has the right information about your earnings. Like any other government entity, Social Security makes its fair share of mistakes and that is why it is important that at least every couple of years, you confirm with the Social Security Administration your earnings.
It used to be that once a year, near your birthday, the Social Security Administration would send you a statement of your Social Security earnings along with a guesstimate as to what your benefits would be. However, back in 2011 the Social Security Administration stopped sending out yearly statements. Under the new rules, the Social Security Administration will automatically send Social Security statements to workers who are 60 years of age and over who are not receiving Social Security Benefits and who do not yet have a My Social Security account. Therefore, for all others it is important to set up an online account through My Social Security in order to review your earnings.
One of the main reasons to set up an account through my Social Security is that Social Security only has a three-year statute of limitations. What that mean is that if there is a mistake in your Social Security earnings you only have three years to correct the mistake. You would be surprised how many mistakes there are with Social Security. Remember, the mistake could be from your employer who is either using your wrong Social Security number or who incorrectly reported your income. In addition, mistakes happen when people change their name as a result of a marriage or divorce and who fail to notify the Social Security Administration. Because you only have three years to correct any mistakes on your Social Security earnings, it is important that if within the last two years you have not reviewed your Social Security earnings statement you do so as soon as possible.
In order to set up an account through Social Security is very easy. All you need to do is go to www.socialsecurity.gov and click on the my Social Security tab. It will only take you a few minutes to set up an account and I can assure you it is time well spent.
My philosophy regarding Social Security is that it is not government assistance or a welfare program. Rather, Social Security is more of an insurance policy that both you and your employer are paying into and as far as I’m concerned, you’re entitled to receive all the benefits you have earned. The only way that you can assure yourself that you do receive the benefits you’re entitled to is to make sure that your Social Security earnings are correct. It would be a mistake for you to assume that neither your employer nor the Social Security Administration make mistakes. Trust me, they do.
In this technology-driven world that we live in, all too often people make the assumption that if they receive a statement from a government entity or a financial institution, it is correct – that is not the case. I have seen mistakes from banks, mutual fund companies, government entities and Social Security. Just like I tell people all the time, it is important to review statements whether it’s from your bank, financial institution or a mutual fund company for accuracy; the same thing applies to Social Security. It is important that in today’s world we are pro-active and that we accept the fact that mistakes do happen. Therefore, if you want to assure yourself that you are receiving every benefit from Social Security that you’re entitled to, it is important to not only obtain a copy of your of your Social Security earning statement, but also review it for accuracy.
Rick is a fee-only financial advisor. If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org.