You have been diligent about saving for retirement, planning your expenses wisely and taking advantage of 401(k)s, IRAs, and other tax-deferred savings programs, but have you managed your Social Security benefits in the same fashion? Did you even know that you could sign up for an account to help you with that management task? If you are at least eighteen years old, have a valid Social Security number, and an e-mail address and U.S. mailing address, then you can start your own My Social Security account.
Why You Should Get a My Social Security Account
A My Social Security account can help you track the progress of your expected future retirement benefits over time, including disability and survivor's benefits, through the use of online statements of benefits that are accessible at any time.
You can review your annual earnings and the estimated amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes that you have paid to date, and find any potential mistakes in postings that could affect your benefits. Even though Social Security benefits are calculated using up to 35 years of earnings, a significant mistake could cost you thousands of dollars in benefits over the course of your retirement.
Did you move or change phone numbers? With My Social Security, you can change your information quickly and securely. Need a verification letter to clarify your benefit status? Those are available online as well, whether you are looking to verify receipt or absence of benefits. If you are receiving benefits or preparing to do so, you can securely set up direct deposits of your benefits or change the account number.
My Social Security also makes it easy to replace any important documents that are lost, such as your Medicare Card or tax forms like the SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S. In some states, you can even request a replacement Social Security card online.
To create an account, go to the Social Security website under the My Social Security section. A link on this page will guide you through the account creation process. You will need to input relevant personal information and create your privacy information (questions that only you would know the answer to) along with your username and password.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) can help you in creating your account. In that case, you finish the process using an activation code that the SSA will provide to you. Click on the button labeled "Finish creating an account with your activation code" and review the Terms of Service. Once you accept the terms, enter your name (make sure to use your name as printed on your Social Security card), your full Social Security number, your birth date, and the activation code. Your My Social Security account will now be active and ready for use.
You can only establish an account for yourself and you must be the only user — no sharing of information is allowed. Even if another person gives you written permission to establish the account, or you are a representative payee or appointed representative for that person, you cannot establish an account for him or her. Misrepresentation or misuse of a My Social Security Account could result in civil or criminal charges being filed against you.
Since you have instant access to your information at any time once you create a My Social Security account, the SSA will not send paper copies of your statement in the mail unless you request a paper copy.
Whether you are receiving retirement benefits or just starting out in your career, sign up for a My Social Security account today and keep tabs on this important retirement asset. IRAs and 401(k)s are important retirement components, but Social Security still forms the base of retirement finances for most of us.
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