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Why should you check your Social Security earnings records?

Few bother to check that their employers have submitted their earnings correctly, but failure to do so could cost a fortune in missed SSA payments.

Few bother to check that their employers have submitted their earnings correctly, but failure to do so could cost a fortune in missed SSA payments.

For many people, Social Security contributions happen without their involvement and are typically made by employers on their behalf. Waiting to turn 70 before beginning to claim Social Security payments can help to maximise the payments, but there is another easy thing that can be done to ensure you get your full entitlement

Your employers will submit a copy of your Wage and Tax Statement, also known as a W-2, to outline your earnings for the year, as well as the amount you have contributed to Social Security. However an error on this submission could be very costly and could undervalue your Social Security entitlement later in life.

Leading investment publication Barron’s advises that people should check their W-2 submission every year, or risk missing out on tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. Here’s everything you need to know to check your Social Security history…

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How to access your Social Security earning records

Anyone aged 18 or older can create a MySocialSecurity account, which will be linked to your payment history. By logging onto www.ssa.gov/myaccount you will be able access your Social Security Statement which will list your earnings record, and give estimates of your retirement, disability and survivors benefits of the future.

As well as checking that your earnings have all been submitted and are correct, you should also make sure that your personal details are up to date. This includes making sure that the correct Social Security number is visible on your account, your marital status has been updated, and that any name changes are reflected on your account.

If any of these details are incorrect it could prevent Social Security funds being allocated to you and could lower your entitlement in future. Typically, any errors must be corrected within three years, three months and 15 days from the end of the taxable year in which your wages were paid, so you can still rectify mistakes that happened years ago.

How to update your Social Security earning records

If you do find errors in your Social Security records you will need to provide evidence of the correct amount, which can be done by submitting proof of earnings:

  • A W-2 form (Wage and Tax Statement)
  • A tax return
  • A wage stub or pay slip
  • Your own wage records
  • Other documents showing you worked

If you can’t find any written documents with proof of your earnings you may be able to alter your Social Security records by submitting the following information:

  • Where you worked
  • The name of your employer
  • The dates you worked
  • How much you earned
  • The name and Social Security number you used
  • When you worked