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5 Essential Facts on Your Social Security Statement

Whether you receive a paper statement or view it online, look for these important pieces of information.

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Studio shot of social security card and banknotes
Tetra Images/AlamyYour Social Security statement contains your earnings record, which lists the amount you made during each year you worked.
By Emily Brandon

The Social Security Administration is planning to resume mailing Social Security statements to some workers beginning in September. The paper statements will be sent to workers ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 who aren't registered for online statements or currently receiving benefits. These previously annual mailings to workers were suspended in April 2011 to save money, and the ability to view statements online was added in May 2012. Here's how to make the most of your benefit statement.

How much you will get when you retire. Most Social Security statements contain an estimate of how much you will receive if you sign up for Social Security at your full retirement age, age 62 and age 70. The full retirement age is 66 for most baby boomers and 67 for everyone born in 1960 or later. "The statement shows clearly that the longer you wait to claim benefits, the more you get each month," says Jonathan Peterson, executive communications director at AARP and author of "Social Security For Dummies." "Over time, the difference can be many thousands of dollars. So it makes a lot of sense to look at the projections at different retirement ages and think about what they mean for you." For example, a worker eligible for $1,680 a month at age 67 would get just $1,159 monthly at age 62, but his benefit would increase to $2,094 each month if he delays signing up until age 70. However, it's important to note that these benefit estimates assume Social Security law will remained unchanged and that you will continue to earn your current salary, both of which could change in the future. The statement will also let you know if you haven't yet worked long enough to qualify for benefits.

What happens if you become disabled. Social Security benefits aren't just for retirees. Your statement will also tell you the benefit amount you will be eligible for if you become disabled in the coming year.

What your family will get if you die. Social Security pays out benefits to families when a breadwinner passes away. Your dependent children and a spouse caring for those children will likely both be eligible for payments upon your death, and the amount they will get is on your statement. Your spouse may also be eligible for retirement benefits based on your work record, even if you die before retirement. A spouse or minor child may additionally be eligible for a one-time death benefit when you pass away.

Your earnings record. Your Social Security statement typically lists every year you have worked and how much you earned. "Sometimes your income does not get properly reported to Social Security," says Brian Vosberg, a certified financial planner and author of "The Complete Retiree's Guide to Social Security." "Checking annually will help guarantee accuracy." The 35 years in which you have the highest earnings are used to calculate your retirement payout.

Your Social Security and Medicare contributions. Under your earnings chart, the statement lists the total amount you have paid into Social Security and Medicare throughout your career. It's a good idea to double-check these amounts to make sure you are getting credit for your contributions. Workers are required to pay 6.2 percent of their pay into Social Security up to $117,000 and 1.45 percent of all earnings into Medicare in 2014, which employers match. Self-employed workers pay 12.4 percent of their earnings into Social Security and 2.9 percent into Medicare. And those who earn more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples) pay an additional 0.9 percent in Medicare taxes.

Of course, you don't have to wait for your paper statement to arrive in the mail. Workers age 18 and older can view their Social Security statements online at any time, although you will need to verify your identity by answering questions about personal information to create an online account. "Set up your access like any other financial site, and check your Social Security data any time you want," says Andy Landis, author of "Social Security: The Inside Story." "I even have the SSA mobile app, just like mobile banking."

Emily Brandon is the senior editor for Retirement at U.S. News. You can contact her on Twitter @aiming2retire, circle her on Google Plus or email her at ebrandon@usnews.com.


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mac2jr

"........during the last 51/2 years we have borrowing massive amounts of money to keep feeding the jobless and increasing welfare 39%.Oba,s policies will take USA to a final collapse"

You carefully forget WHY we are spending money on the jobless and increasing welfare. The Bush Administration's policies allowed over 100,000 American Companies to move out of the U.S.A. to China and Asia, and thus took some 9,700,000 American jobs with it. You also forget that we had two wars going on under the Bush Administration, and these wars built up the Defence Industry by double, and now that we no longer have those wars, the Defence Industry has cut back to the pre-Bush years. You also forgot to mention that since R. Reagan's reign of terror on the U.S.A., there have been massive drops in Union Employment and protections, massive decreases in salaries for the working class, massive increases in salaries for the 'lords' classes. And you forgot to mention that there are now 100 applicants for just about every 1 job opening due to Corporate CEOS demanding that existing workers do the jobs of two or more people.

You missed this morning's CSPAN show where college educated workers numbering nearly 2,000,000 are out of work, thrown off of UE by the Republicans, and cannot in dozens of months, hundreds of resumes, and many interviews find work.

You also missed the Great State of Texas and their no Corporate Tax BS that is pulling the remaining American Small Town Factories to the land of the NOT-SO-FREE, thus leaving thousands of towns in Rural America without a means of taxation or jobs for their people, thus creating ruin as local infrastructures crumble due to lack of dollars.

Wake up America, WAKE UP...!

May 06 2014 at 6:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Valerie

What this article didn't mention (and should have) is that there are a lot of errors on those Social Security statements of benefits and earnings.

Everyone should make a habit of going over their SS statement with a fine tooth comb to make sure it is accurate. You only have two years to correct any mistakes you may find. After that two year period has passed, any incorrect info on your statement becomes part of your permanent record and you can't get it revised.

May 06 2014 at 6:18 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
thefacts22

Anybody with a calculator,can figure out that SS is a fraud,but it is the law and we have to pay into the Ponzi scheme,on top that they have been stealing from SS since day one,we the payers have to support for life those that do not work,no wonder it will bankrupt.Many of you read the news and know that the dollar is collapsing against most currencies,that USA credit will be downgraded "again" next year,as during the last 51/2 years we have borrowing massive amounts of money to keep feeding the jobless and increasing welfare 39%.Oba,s policies will take USA to a final collapse

May 06 2014 at 4:19 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

The Republican Plan for keeping the non-white off of Social Security is simple, move all the jobs out of non-white neighborhoods and therefore, those non-whites left without a job base cannot earn and therefore, do not pay into Social Security, and thus cannot collect..

May 06 2014 at 3:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

The Republican Plan for keeping women off of Social Security is simple, keep the women 'barefoot and pregnant' by refusing to do away with the $2.35 per hour minimum wage for the food service industry, doing away with abortions and birth control, paying 70% on each dollar for working the same jobs as men, and preventing advancements past the 'glass' ceiling.

May 06 2014 at 3:47 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

The Republican plan for cutting Social Security is simple, fire everyone over the age of 55 and refuse to provide health care, Unemployment Insurance, jobs, or anything more than minimum wage. This forces those fired to use up savings, retirement plan funds, sell their belongings and homes, and then have to take Social Security at age 62, thus at a 25% discount from what he or she would have normally received, and earned by working most of his or her life and paying into the fund.

May 06 2014 at 3:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

"Your parent / guardian must have been a real piece of work to make you work at the age of 5. Was it real hot in those cotton fields ?"

Parent, Father was off to war defending your grandparents and their lifestyle so that your parents could be born and have you.

Mother ran farm with 35 cows, 5 pigs, 24 chickens, and me, and thus we, mother and I worked together to chop wood for keeping the New York winters from freezing the animals and ourselves, and I drove the tractor pulling the wagon while mother cut the hay and loaded it onto the wagon being pulled.There were water to hand-pump and haul, feed to gather, cows to milk, pigs to feed, and chickens to raise, and there was a garden to be cared for, and squirrels to be hunted, and fish to be caught. Handling a 22, 8 mil, and 12 ga was part of growing up, and yes even membership in the NRA when it still cared for safety and gun regulations.

You and yours need to get a feel for the history of the White Dairy Farmer of the 1920 - 1960 period and how each was destroyed by Borden and other Corporate Farms that screwed the very people that made each rich..

May 06 2014 at 3:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
razov

The easiest way to make the Social Security & Medicare "trust" fund solvent in perpetuity is twofold:

1. Force Congress to invest the SS/Medicare surplus in real assets, and keep these programs separate from the annual appropriations that the Treasury must finance. That's right, sequester these funds from Congress's temptation to spend them. Sen. Daniel Moynahan warned about this dangerous practice 30 years ago.
2. Remove the limit on income subject to the withholding tax. This means millionaires and billionaires will pay an extra 6.2% of their gross above the $117,000 level. Why not, its a matter of fairness. I dare any wealthy executive or celebrity to explain how their lives will be financially burdened by paying an extra 6.2%

I have written my representative in Congress about this proposal. Let them take a vote on it, and see who sides with the average person and who defends the super rich.

RZ in CT

May 06 2014 at 1:40 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to razov's comment
kitharris1

not a bad plan in my book.

May 06 2014 at 1:56 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

If you are on social security and medicare, or soon will be, thank a democrat. If you want to end these 2 fine programs vote republican. 1935 democrats passed social security against the wishes of the republicans who fought to stop the law. In 1968 democrats passed legislation for medicare, and again the republicans wanted nothing to do with it. So thank you democrats for my life style today. By the way I never drew an unemployment or welfare check all my working years.

May 06 2014 at 11:51 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

Some of us have worked our entire lives from age 5 onward and have contributed to Social Security from age 14 on, and thus do deserve to collect the maximum that is offered, and contracted for by our contract with the Full-Faith and Trust of the United States of America and its governments. Many of us have also served in the armed forces of the U.S.A., and therefore also deserve free medical care via the Veteran's Administration, and thus do not use the Medicare System per se... Yes, the VA may bill Medicare, but we are paying for both the VA and the Medicare, one with our time and possible life, the other with our money.

Those that deny or attempt to deny us our contracted benefits should be ashamed of themselves for they are ignorant of the facts, and ignorant of what the Republican have and are still trying to do to destroy or void out the contracts and ruin the trust of the U.S.A. government by millions, all for the greed of Corporate America and their CEO profits.

May 06 2014 at 11:31 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply