Do you feel as if you don’t have enough user ids and passwords to remember? Just kidding – it’s true that most of us are drowning in unremembered passwords. Here’s a worthwhile account for you and your clients to set up – mySSA. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is online now, and workers can set up online accounts to access useful information. With an online account, you can see your projected benefits, check your earnings history, and research claiming strategies.

 

Set Up Account

Set up an account here. It’s fast and easy. You enter personal information about yourself including answers to questions that only you are likely to know. Then you create a username and password. Keep in mind that if you’ve set credit freezes, you’ll need to remove them to create this account. The three credit bureaus (Experion, TransUnion, and Equifax) require separate freeze actions, so you’ll need to remove and replace each of the three. You may have to pay a fee unless your state, college, Security Clearance authority or primary shopping place (i.e. Target or Home Depot most recently) has allowed you to be able to waive the fee if your personally identifiable information (PII) has been hacked. If you live in South Carolina, attended the University of South Carolina, worked at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, and shopped at Target, that’s four waivers right there! But you only need one.

 

Check Your Benefits and Earnings

Use your account to:

  • Keep track of your earnings and verify them every year
  • Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working
  • Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them
  • Manage your benefits:
    • Change your address
    • Start or change your direct deposit
    • Get a replacement Medicare card
    • Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season.

 

MoneyWatch’s Steve Vernon points out that “Social Security calculates your benefit using a 35-year history of your earnings,

[so] it’s important to review your earnings history to check for mistakes. If the information the SSA has on file isn’t correct, your benefit won’t be calculated correctly.

You can also check to see if you have 35 years of earnings. If you paid Social Security taxes for less than 35 years of earnings, the SSA plugs in zeros for the missing years and still calculates a 35-year average. You want to make sure all your years of work are correctly listed, and you may want to work a little longer to have 35 covered years.

 

Research Benefit Claiming Strategies

Once you are online, you can see estimates of your future monthly retirement income based on three different ages when you might start your benefits: age 62, your full retirement age (age 66 for current retirees), and age 70. You can see how your monthly Social Security check increases if you delay the start of your benefits. You may decide to work a little long when you see how your benefits can increase.

 

Minimize Trips to the SSA Office

An online SSA account can save you time. However, as AARP’s Stan Hindon reminds us, an online account won’t prevent every trip to the SSA office. You still need to go to an SSA office in person to apply for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. You’ll also need to go if you notice a mistake in your earnings or need to get your card replaced.

 

One thing can you do for sure online: you can retire online right from your rocking chair!

 

 

Sources

Hindon, Stan. “Going Online with Social Security.AARP. Jan. 2015.

mySSA.

Vernon, Steve. “Why It Pays to Have a ‘My Social Security’ Account.” CBS MoneyWatch. 23 July 2015.