Your Annual Social Security Check-Up

Most people associate annual check-ups with going to the doctor’s office and putting on a paper gown.  But there’s another type of annual check-up that can give you just as great a sense of wellness without even having to leave home.  You can visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov to conduct your own Social Security annual check-up.
Your Social Security statement is now available online by setting up a my Social Security account ( http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount).  Creating your own account allows you to access to your Social Security statement information 24/7.  You’ll answer a few questions that we expect only you to know the answers to set up your account and safeguard your information.  Setting up an account is quick, secure and easy.
Social Security is resuming periodic mailings of the paper statement.  Workers reaching ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits and not registered for a my Social Security account will receive a statement in the mail about 3 months before their birthday.  After 60, people will receive a paper statement every year.
Your statement provides information about work credits, estimates for retirement, disability and survivors benefits plus a history of your earnings.
Start your check-up by reviewing these items on your statement:
Work CreditsIf you have already earned the 40 work credits required for most benefits, your record will show estimates for retirement, disability and survivors benefits.  If you don’t yet have 40 work credits, the statement shows how many you have and how many you still need to qualify for benefits.  You can find additional information about work credits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/credits1.htm .
Your Earnings RecordReview your history of earnings year by year to make sure each year is correct.  This is important because Social Security benefits are based on average earnings over your lifetime.  If the information is incorrect or there are missing years of earnings, you may not receive all the benefits you are entitled to in the future.
If you need to correct your earnings, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Please have your W-2 or paystubs when you call.
Benefit EstimatesNext review the estimated benefits section.  Be sure to review not only your retirement estimate, but your disability estimate and the survivors estimate for your family as well.  Disability is something most people avoid considering. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age underscoring the importance of disability benefits.  Since the value of the survivors insurance you have under Social Security is probably more than the value of your individual life insurance, you’ll want to check the accuracy of your earnings as part of planning for survivors benefits.
You can visit the website to use a calculator called The Estimator (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/estimator.htm) which can compute future Social Security retirement benefits by changing variables such as retirement dates and future earnings.  The statement gives you estimates at 62, your full retirement age (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement/ageincrease.htm), and 70.  What if you want to know what your benefit would be at age 63 or 64?  What if you want to project what future earnings might add to your benefit?  The Estimator can help you answer these “What If” questions for yourself.
Schedule Your Yearly Check-UpOnce you’ve completed your initial review of your statement, each year make an appointment with yourself to review the most recently posted year of earnings on your Social Security record.  By checking your record yearly, you can be certain when you retire that Social Security will have a correct record of earnings to use when computing your retirement benefit.  This review also assures a correct record for disability benefits or survivors benefits.  If you sign up for a my Social Security account, we’ll even send you a reminder to review your information several months before your birthday.

Striving for financial wellness is always an important goal.  Starting with Social Security means you can check that task off this year’s To Do list.

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leverton

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