The Social Security Administration has gone high tech. It has done away with annual paper statements as a cost-cutting measure and added a feature 'My Social Security' to its website that enables viewing online workers' earnings and benefit information. This is convenient, because it makes it possible to access personal social security information anytime anywhere.
This new system asks for personal information and gets one to answer secret security questions. This is similar to the system used while opening a bank account online or request a credit report online. Once the information matches the data on the file maintained with Social Security, a new account is created with a unique user name and password and access to the Social Security statement is provided.
In addition to showing one's earnings record, the statement shows the estimated Social Security payments at full retirement age (66 to 67, depending on one's age), at age 70 and at age 62. (The estimates are based on the average earnings to date and assume the same annual income will be earned from now until retirement.)
The statement also shows monthly benefits eligible for on disability, and the amount of survivor's benefits one's child and spouse may receive. It is important to check the statement and ensure the annual income which forms the basis for calculating retirement benefits is rightly recorded.
The site allows printing of the social security statement, and there is also an option to deactivate the online account. Workers who are 60 and older and not yet receiving benefits still get paper copies mailed out to them.
The two main items on a Social Security statement are:
• Benefits. This section is updated regularly to reflect how much money has been contributed over one's lifetime and how much money one can expect to receive. One needs a certain number of "credits" to qualify for retirement benefits, and that is listed in this section.
• Earnings report. This section displays the earnings for each year, as well as an estimate of how much money has been paid into Social Security and Medicare. The earnings record should be carefully reviewed for inaccuracies. If the number is too low, one could miss out on benefits down the road. If the number is too high, that could be an indication that the identity has been compromised and the Social Security Number is being misused.
The online statement also contains links to other online Social Security services, such as applications for retirement, disability and Medicare.
The link to track and confirm one's annual Social Security earnings ishttp://www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement/.