Last week, I received a letter that I nearly threw into a junk pile.
That is, until I read this line:
‘Prepared especially for Daniel Rubin’
Curious, I opened the letter and started reading.
Turns out, the Social Security Administration (SSA) had sent me an official ‘Statement’ that details my yearly earnings since I started filing taxes. The document also explains how much money I could receive if I become disabled and can’t work.
Up til now, this is all I knew about Social Security:
The government program, which has existed since 1935, is going bankrupt and probably won’t be around by the time I reach retirement. Sorry, Millennials. Blame the 80 million Baby Boomers weighing down the system and growing older by the day.
Even the SSA admits that, by 2033, the Social Security Trust Fund will only be able to pay 75 cents for each dollar of benefits.
The future of Social Security is very much in doubt, but until the program goes bust, it’s important to know if the SSA has all of your financial information correct. If you need disability help or retirement benefits, you’ll want every cent you’ve earned from punching the clock and paying taxes.
The good news: it’s really easy to review your Social Security Statement.
If you haven’t received a report in the snail mail, go to the Social Security Website and create an account. It’s pretty straightforward and takes a few minutes.
Once you log in, you will see the estimated benefits if you become disabled and your earnings record.
Here’s the thing: SSA bases your retirement benefits on lifetime earnings. So if the government has your numbers wrong, you won’t get everything you’re owed.
Michelle Singletary, who writes the financial column ‘The Color of Money,‘ explains why your numbers may be off.
- your employer may have reported wrong information
- your employer could have used an incorrect name or Social Security numbers
- you got married or divorced but didn’t report the change
My earnings report is accurate, but if it wasn’t, I would likely need a W-2 from the year in question to prove my case.
So to recap: When many of us reach retirement, Social Security may not be there. Even so, we should keep close watch on our benefits.
Singletary recommends checking each year on your birthday.
I say review your Statement today.
You’re out there working hard year after year. Your money should too.
Anyone have trouble logging into the SSA Website? Anyone find incorrect information?
Let’s help each other out and get the benefits we deserve.
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© 2013, Danny Rubin