Understanding your Social Security benefits is a Savvy use of your time. The Social Security Administration website can be a useful tool as you prepare for retirement. Beyond that, it can also serve as a useful tool during the period you spend in retirement.
Previously, the Social Security Administration mailed paper statements to most worker aged 25 and older. However, these mailings were suspended in April 2011 to save money. Recently however, the Administration resumed mailing paper Social Security statements to some workers. The statements will be sent to workers every five years in the year they attain ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60, if they are not registered to receive online statements or already receiving benefits.
While it is reasonable to expect that the program will change over time, it is highly unlikely the program will be going away. Therefore, the likelihood that it will change is a good reason to use this tool as a means of staying on top of the changes and understanding the potential impacts to your retirement; and not waiting for a statement every five years. If you have not already done so, I highly recommend you visit the site and create a my Social Security account.
How does a my Social Security account benefit you? It provides multiple capabilities if you are currently receiving Social Security benefits or have Medicare, including:
- Receiving your Benefit Verification Letter
- Checking your benefit and payment information
- Checking your earnings record
- Changing your address and phone number
- Starting or changing the direct deposit of your benefit payment
And if you are not currently receiving benefits, you can:
- Review estimates of your retirement benefits
- Review estimates of your disability benefits
- Review estimates of your survivors benefits
- Review estimates of your earnings record
- Review the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you have paid
The Social Security Administration makes it very easy to create your account online; I created mine in about 10 minutes. Easy, breezy, lemon-squeezy! As you might suspect, to create an account you must provide some personal information about yourself and give answers to some questions that only you are likely to know. Once you have answered a few questions, you will create a username and password that you will allow you to access your online account.
While your Social Security benefits should not be the centerpiece of your retirement portfolio; and it is more than likely that Social Security benefits will change over time – particularly for younger workers (e.g. Millennials) – they should be taken into account when developing a retirement plan and being aware of potential benefits is simply the Savvy thing to do.