Stephen Thompson on US Social Security

New Update on Social Security

Good news. In a reversal of its decision last year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has once again made Social Security Statements available to verify earnings for past years and to provide estimates of future benefits. Earnings determine the number of Social Security quarters which in turn determines eligibility for Social Security benefits. Without the annual earnings data, tracking progress toward the minimum number of quarters needed to qualify for Social Security benefits becomes very difficult to monitor. 

As of May 1, Social Security Statements are available online at Setting up an account to access the Social Security website is very simple and takes only minutes. People as young as age 18 can create a Social Security account online. After signing on, one can view past annual earnings, obtain estimates of future benefits, apply for benefits, and obtain full annual Social Security Statements. We strongly recommend keeping the most recent Statement for your records. 

In addition, starting in February 2012, the SSA began mailing Social Security Statements to those workers age 60 and above who were not yet receiving Social Security benefits. If you receive them, keep them in your records. Later this year, the SSA will also mail a Social Security Statement to workers in the year they reach age 25.

Notice Posted by KeatsConnelly in September 2011

Checking on your future Social Security benefits is no longer simple.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has stopped mailing the annual Social Security Statements.  These were a handy tool for verifying earnings for past years and also for providing estimates of future benefits.  The big loss, especially for many of our Canadian friends, is the earnings data.  Earnings determine the number of quarters which in turn determines eligibility for Social Security benefits.  Without the earnings data, tracking progress toward obtaining the number of quarters needed to qualify for benefits becomes very difficult to monitor.  In contrast with earnings data, benefit estimates are readily available by phone or on the Social Security website.  Given the change, we therefore recommend keeping any past Social Security Statements and maintaining good records of future earnings.  Also, go to the Social Security website periodically and use the calculators to find out if Social Security estimates of future benefits are consistent with your own.  

In some very limited situations when earnings may have been reported incorrectly, Social Security will provide earnings information at no cost.  In other cases, SSA charges a fee to look up earnings data from their records.  Since the discontinuation of the Social Security Statement mailings in May, the SSA has made several changes regarding availability of earnings information.  What further changes, if any, are under way is difficult to say.  Possibly more changes will be made so review the SSA website occasionally.  We will continue to follow this for our clients and will post any changes of which we become aware.   

Again, earnings information is important and our recommendation is to keep earnings records and any old Social Security Statements you might have. 

Written by KeatsConnelly Associate Planner, Stephen Thompson

Posted in Cross-Border Blog
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