By: Laura Walton AFC®
This message popped up in my inbox last week: “Annual Reminder to Review Your Social Security Statement”. We used to get our Social Security Statement mailed to us once a year – remember? The good news is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) saves $70M a year (and a lot of trees) by no longer mailing them out; the bad news is that people aren’t reviewing their statements regularly.
Your SSA statement has been available online since 2011 and shows an estimate of monthly benefits at various retirement ages along with your history of employment income. If you’re not checking your statement, you’re assuming the government records are correct. Recently a client realized a year’s worth of history was missing from her statement. The sooner you catch an error, the easier it is to correct.
The estimate of retirement benefits is also an important planning tool. That, along with information about your income, current investments, and monthly savings and spending habits can be entered into a retirement calculator which will tell you whether you have already saved enough or need to save more to reach your goals. Incidentally, don’t shy away from this step as most people are pleasantly surprised with their results.
Because not enough people have signed up online, the SSA has resumed mailing paper statements at five-year intervals. Those who have not signed up will receive a paper statement at ages 25, 30, 35 and so on up to age 60. But, when the #1 source of identity theft is your mailbox, isn’t it better to receive the information online? You will be required to change your password every six months which offers some added site protection.
By joining the elite 6% who have signed up online, you can check your income record, make some retirement projections, save the government (meaning you) some money, and protect our forests all at the same time.