Why you should review your Social Security statement

Social Security doesn’t matter until you’re in your 60s, right? Not so fast. Social Security is probably the biggest guaranteed annuity you will receive in your lifetime. Because we pay for it in small increments over our working lives, it’s easy to overlook the benefits we are slowly building up. But just like any insurance policy you own, you should review your report to make sure you are getting what you pay for.

Millennials often tell me that they are not planning on ever receiving Social Security benefits so they don’t want to integrate it into their financial plans. The loss of benefits threat is a political tactic used to scare seniors into voting for a particular party.

But think about it – can you imagine either political party committing suicide by  taking away the most treasured benefit from the most consistent voting block at the polls? The rules may change, and they should. When the average life expectancy is edging toward 100, it doesn’t make sense to allow retirees to begin drawing at age 62. Here are some changes that will easily protect your Social Security benefits:

  • Increase the age at which retirees can begin drawing benefits
  • Increase the tax to 100% of benefits for higher-earning
  • Raise the Social Security wage base
  • Raise benefits for those waiting longer to begin drawing

Please trust me: your Social Security benefits will be there when you retire. But the SSA cannot calculate correct benefits without correct information.

What you really need to do to protect yourself is to ensure that your wages are being reported accurately . This means you should request an annual Social Security statement and compare to your W2 or tax return to your wages as recorded by the SSA.

Errors are made for many reasons: your employer may have gone out of business, reported incorrect wages or used the wrong Social Security number. Or you may have changed your name (divorce or marriage) without reporting it to the SSA.

The easiest way to check your records is to set up an online account and download your statement. If this is your first time reviewing your statement, go back as far as you have records to ensure your wages and FICA taxes paid have been correctly reported.

The SSA says you cannot correct your earnings after 3 years, 3 months and 15 days from the end of the taxable year in which your wages were paid. However, if you have proof of your earnings such as a tax return, W-2 or a pay stub, it’s possible to get an adjustment. If you find an error, contact the SSA at 800-772-1213 to get started.

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