Key Point: Perhaps many retirees aren’t aware, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) indeed has an online portal that can help keep track and manage all Social Security-related benefits.
For those who haven’t set up an account yet, it would be wise to do so—since the information from one’s work history will be calculated to give a rough estimate on the amount of Social Security benefits. Moreover, the portal can offer convenient access to Medicare resources and the ability to apply for such benefits.
By having an active account with SSA, an individual can also gain important insight into how much less one would receive if he or she begins collecting the benefits at sixty-two, the earliest age to do so. Do take note that filing for Social Security at age seventy will reap the largest monthly check, which is currently near $4,000.
Retirement Estimator Tool
Be aware that there is another way to check on how much Social Security benefits one will be in line to receive. The SSA’s Retirement Estimator tool “gives you a benefit amount based on your actual Social Security earnings record,” the SSA says. But be warned that “these are just estimates.”
The agency adds: “We can’t give you your actual benefit amount until you apply for benefits. The estimated and actual amounts may differ due to: Future increases or decreases in your earnings; Social Security annual cost-of-living adjustments; Changes to U.S. laws and policies; Your military service, railroad employment, or pensions earned through work for which you did not pay Social Security tax.”
Confirm Earnings Record
Furthermore, an individual can use the SSA account to double-check their past earnings record. Financial experts do say that this is very important because if there are indeed any mistakes in the figures, they could have a sizeable impact on how much money one will eventually receive via the benefits.
“The amount of the Social Security benefit you or your family receive depends on the amount of earnings shown on your record. If all of your earnings are not shown on your record, this could mean lower Social Security benefits for you or your family,” the SSA notes. “If the earnings missing from your Social Security record are for the current year or last year, you don’t need to worry. Because these earnings are recent, we may not have recorded them yet.”
The agency added that “if earnings (are) missing from your record, the first thing you should do is find some proof of those earnings. After you’ve gathered your documents or made a list of all of the information you can remember, contact Social Security.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.