Want to make the most of your Social Security retirement benefits? Make sure your work history and statements are correct.
Retirement tip of the week: Check your Social Security statements to make sure your information is correct, including your salary history and personal information. This will save you headaches when claiming, especially if your work history is incorrect and results in a lower payment each month.
Social Security retirement benefits are calculated using an individual’s 35 highest earning years, meaning anyone who worked longer would only see those peak earnings on their record. Anyone who has worked under the age of 35 would see a reduced benefit.
(These requirements should not be confused with the 10 years a person must work to be eligible for Social Security Administration retirement benefits.)
When income history is incorrect, recipients may see a reduced amount in their monthly Social Security checks. A report by an SSA inspector general found that $1.2 trillion between 1937 and 2012 was not credited to beneficiaries due to reporting errors, according to AARP.
There are a few types of errors, including erroneous earnings or simply missing work history overall. Employers may have reported income incorrectly or used the wrong Social Security number and name with the Social Security Administration. In some cases, errors occur if people have changed their name and have not notified the Social Security Administration.
Workers can detect these errors quickly if they have an online account with the Social Security Administration. They should also check their work history regularly, for example once a year.
Once an error has been found, find proof of the error (such as a W-2 or tax return showing the correct amount of income) and report it immediately to the Social Security Administration , who will “work with you to correct your record”. the agency said.
Sometimes you may not be able to find supporting documents, in which case you should write down as much information as you remember, including the name of your employer, the dates you worked, how much you earned, and the name and social security. number you used when you were employed there, the administration said. He will try to contact these employers to get the correct information, but the process can be long.
The sooner the error is found, the easier it will be to correct. The Social Security Administration states that income records “may be corrected at any time up to three years, three months and 15 days after the year in which wages were paid or the income of a independent work was derived”. After this time, earnings can only be corrected in special circumstances, such as correcting information to bring it into line with tax returns showing correct wages or self-employment earnings, or if an investigation into the error started before the timeout expired.
In addition to the Social Security Administration’s website, workers looking to correct their income history can call the agency at 1-800-772-1213. An automated service is available 24 hours a day, but a representative will be able to assist you between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. You may experience a long waiting period, the administration warned.