Why You Should Create Your “My Social Security Account"

Did you know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers an online service which will allow you to review your history of earnings, check your current or future benefits as well as additional Social Security services?  Most people who contact our office are unaware of this, so the goal of this article is to share some important details about your access to this valuable SSA service.  By setting up the free My Social Security Account, you’ll have the power to monitor your earnings as well as get access to your Social Security statements and more. 

By periodically reviewing your Social Security work history, you can make sure that the SSA has properly recorded your earnings as well as obtain an estimate of the monthly payment that you are likely to receive upon your retirement.  SSA uses your highest thirty-five years of earnings to calculate your benefit, so you should review it each year to make sure they have your correct earnings history. SSA retirement benefits typically replace about 40% of your income before retirement, so be sure to stay on top of this!

In addition to an estimate of the payment you will receive upon retirement, your SSA account will also allow access to an estimate of the amount you would receive should you develop a serious physical or mental impairment which is likely to keep you out of work for at least one year.  Once SSA determines that you are disabled, there is a five-month waiting period prior to initiation of your monthly payments and a twenty-four month waiting period before your Medicare coverage will begin.  Beyond these payment estimates, your online SSA account 1) offers important information about survivor benefits that would be paid to your spouse or disabled child if your die, 2) allows you to update your contact information, and 3) is the most efficient way to request documentation such as a replacement Social Security, Medicare card, or benefit verification letter. 

You don’t have to be at retirement age to set up an online account. In fact, you only need to be eighteen years of age or older to establish your online account.  In addition to being at least 18, you must already have a Social Security number, a valid US mailing address, and an email address to create your online account.  The SSA would much rather you have access to your benefit details online than them having to mail you any documentation.  You will also be able to set up direct deposit for your benefit once it begins.  If, however, you have taken the steps to freeze your credit prior to creating the online account then you might run into issues.  The SSA uses information received from credit bureaus to verify your identity, so you might need to visit your local Social Security office with identification in hand to clear things up.  Phone your local office first to make sure these are still the correct steps for opening an online account with frozen credit.

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