You used to receive one in the mail around your birthday. If you are younger than 50, you probably threw it directly into the trash. (It’s much more interesting the closer you get to retirement.)
Now you can just go online
To see your Social Security statement, go to www.SSA.gov (If you have trouble remembering it, just think “ass backwards” then “gov”). You’ll need to set up an account with the typical personal details plus security questions to verify your identity. If you want added security, you can take it a step further and use information from a prior year’s W-2.
Why do you want to see it?
- To verify your earnings. It’s a lot easier to correct errors when they are new.
- To help you plan how and where you will live at retirement. You can see how much you will earn when it’s your time to collect. Is it enough to cover your mortgage payment? Is it enough to continue with your hobbies or cover basic expenses?
- To help you decide when to retire. You will be able to determine your Full Retirement Age (based on year of birth). Currently, you can take your social security benefits early at age 62 with a lower monthly payout or wait as late as 70 to receive a greater payout.
Protecting your account
You can add extra security by having them text you a unique code every time you want to sign in online. In a surprise twist, setting this up initially involves them sending you a letter in the mail. It’s a process that takes 5-10 business days, but once it’s done, you can rest a little easier. I recommend taking this extra step, since everyone’s had their information compromised at least once or twice in the last few years.
I would suggest that you check your Social Security statement annually – either a month or so after you file your income tax or around your birthday. The important thing to do is to check it.