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Social Security: Why it pays to keep a careful eye on your earnings record

Whether you’re ready to retire, just joining the workforce, or somewhere in between, regularly reviewing your Social Security earnings record could make a big difference when it’s time to collect your retirement benefits.

Social Security prevents many mistakes from appearing on your earnings record. Social Secuity processes about 236 million W-2 wage reports from employers each year, representing more than $5 trillion. More than 98 percent of these wages are successfully posted.

But it’s ultimately the responsibility of your employers — past and present — to provide accurate earnings information to Social Security so you get credit for the contributions you’ve made through payroll taxes. You are responsible for any errors or omissions.

What’s the easiest and most efficient way to validate your earnings record?

>> Visit socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to set up or sign in to your account.

>> Under the “My Home” tab, click on “Earnings Record” to view your online Social Security statement.

>> Review each year of listed earnings and use your records, such as W-2s and tax returns, to confirm them.

>> Earnings from this year and last year may not be listed yet.

If you need to correct your earnings record, find out how at socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10081.pdf.

Report problems as soon as possible. As time passes, you may no longer have past tax documents and some employers may no longer be in business or able to provide past payroll information.

If everything in your earnings record is correct, you can use the online calculators at socialsecurity.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.html to plan for your retirement and prepare for the unexpected. The top 35 years of earnings are used to calculate your benefits. Learn more about how benefits are calculated at socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10070.pdf.


Nicole Tiggemann is a spokesperson for the Social Security Administration.


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