Social Security Statements Now Online
The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has launched a portal that enables individuals who have paid into the Social Security system to view their personalized earnings and benefits information. The new online Social Security Statement replaces the annual paper statement that was suspended for those between the ages of 25 and 60.
Individuals age 18 and older can register at
www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement and, after answering a series of identifying questions, create a “My Social Security” account with a unique user name and password. Once the information is verified, they can access their online statement and view the benefits that the Social Security system intends to provide, allowing people to prepare estimates they can use to plan for their retirement. In addition, the online statement allows individuals to make estimates for disability and survivors benefits.
In addition to helping with financial planning, the online statement provides a convenient way for employees to determine whether their earnings are posted accurately to their Social Security records. This feature is important because Social Security benefits are based on average earnings over a person’s lifetime. If the earnings information is not accurate, the individual may not receive all the benefits to which they entitled.
The personalized Social Security Statement can be downloaded or printed for financial planning discussions with family or a financial planner. Knowing the amount of expected income from Social Security can help employers to determine whether they are saving enough through employer-provided retirement plans and individual retirement accounts to provide an adequate replacement income in retirement. Retirement income can be estimated using free online tools such as AARP's Retirement Income Calculator and the SSA's Retirement Estimator.
Many retirement experts counsel their clients to aim for income in retirement that replaces at least 70 percent of their final year’s salary in order to maintain the standard of living in retirement that they experienced while working.
The SSA says it expects that some Americans will not be able to be verified through this process. Some might not answer the security questions correctly based on information on file, and others might supply identifying information that does not match their Social Security records. In instances where this occurs, people will have the option to request that a paper Social Security Statement be mailed to them. In addition, those who cannot verify online initially may visit their local Social Security office and present an identity document in order to create an account and gain access to the online version of the statement.
In February 2012, Social Security resumed mailing paper statement to workers age 60 and older if they were not already receiving Social Security benefits. The agency also plans to mail paper statements to workers in the year they reach age 25.
Hedley Lawson, Contributing Editor
Aligned Growth Partners, LLC