My last post discussed how to set up a my Social Security account. Now, we need to discuss why you want to set up an account.
Let’s divide the conversation into two different parts. For simplicity sake, let’s call them “Planning” and “Receiving Benefits”.
We will start with planning first. A secure financial future starts with sound financial planning. Social Security fits within that framework of planning. So, what kind of planning should you be doing? You need to be answering basic life scenario questions: How will I fund my retirement?, What will happen to me financially if I become disabled and cannot work?, and How will my family be provided for financially after I die? Most people realize that Social Security plays a role in your future retirement, but do not think about Social Security when planning for possible disablement or death. Social Security is more than retirement.
How do you know what you can expect Social Security to add to your future funding? That’s where your my Social Security account comes into play. It will provide you with instant estimates for retirement (age 62, your full retirement age and age 70), disability, and survivor estimates. It also provides a history of your earnings. If you have never reviewed your earnings year by year for accuracy, now is the time to do so. This is the first annual National Social Security Month and what better time to review your Social Security covered earnings?
The reason that you want to review for accuracy is because we use these earnings to figure your retirement, possible disability, and survivor benefits. No one knows better than you if these earnings are correct. If you find an error, contact us with your W-2, so we can correct your earnings records. Then check the estimates given for retirement, disability, and survivors benefits.
Next, get out your calendar or planner and choose a specific date each year to look at your account. Maybe it could be your birthday or any other day of your choosing. What are you checking? You are checking to see if your most recent year of earnings has been posted correctly by Social Security. That way you will know that your earnings are always correct in the case of retirement, disability or death.
And when it is time for you to file for benefits, remember, you can file for retirement, spouses and disability benefits online. You cannot file for Supplemental Security Income (a type of disability benefit that has low income and resource requirements) or survivors benefits online at this time.
Now, let’s talk about receiving benefits. Yes, you’ve finally done it. You’ve reached age 62 or older and a well-deserved retirement. But does that end your business with Social Security? Not if you ever need to change your address, phone or direct deposit, lose your Medicare card or 1099 for tax purposes (and in some states your Social Security card) or need a letter telling how much you receive each month (benefit verification letter). Those services are all available by logging into your my Social Security account. The account can save you time and travel when receiving benefits when you need one of these services.
So, be sure to sign up for an account and make full use of the planning information and services available through it. Happy National Social Security Month.