In May of last year, I mentioned how the Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped automatically mailing paper benefits statements to those under the age of 60 (http://www.boston.com/business/personalfinance/managingyourmoney/archives/2011/05/social_security_9.html). At that time, if you were under age 60 and interested in receiving an estimate of your social security retirement benefits you had to specifically request a paper copy or obtain the information by using the SSA’s Benefit’s Estimator.
As of early last month, those benefits statements are available online through the SSA’s web site (http://ssa.gov/mystatement/). In order to access your statement you will need to create an account through the SSA web site using your personal information. According to the SSA, your account will provide you with information about the following:
- Estimates of the retirement and disability benefits you may receive;
- Estimates of benefits your family may get when you receive Social Security or die;
- A list of your lifetime earnings according to Social Security’s records;
- The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid;
- Information about qualifying and signing up for Medicare;
- Things to consider for those age 55 and older who are thinking of retiring;
- General information about Social Security for everyone;
- The opportunity to apply online for retirement and disability benefits; and
- A printable version of your Social Security Statement.
The information from these statements - regardless of how to receive it - can be valuable in your financial planning or retirement planning process for a couple of reasons. First, it will provide you with an estimate of the retirement, disability, and survivor benefits that you are likely to receive. Secondly, it provides you with the earnings history that the SSA uses to calculate your benefits. It’s important to check (and correct, if necessary) your earnings history to ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to.