The Social Security Administration is now providing online statements for individuals to view the estimated benefits that person will receive when they retire, replacing the paper statements the agency use to mail out a couple months prior to your birthday each year. Until last year, the agency mailed the yearly statements which told what your benefits would be if you retired at age 62, 66 or 70. The costs of those mailings exceeded $70 million a year. With the free online statements, workers 18 and older can now go to www.ssa.gov and create a secure account to view their earnings and benefit information.
In announcing the new online statements, Social Security Commissioner Michael Asture stated, “Our new online Social Security statement is simple, easy-to-use and provides people with estimates they can use to plan for their retirement.” The online statements include a history of taxable earnings for each year so people can check for any mistakes, as well as the total amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes paid over the lifetime of the worker. They also provide estimates of monthly benefits based on current earnings and when a worker may plan on retiring. Early Social Security retirement benefits can be claimed starting at age 62 and full benefits are currently available at age 66, but gradually increasing to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. However, if workers wait until 70 to apply for Social Security, they can receive even higher benefits.
To get a personalized online statement, anyone 18 and older must provide information about themselves that match the information Social Security already has on file. They must provide their identifying personal information and answer a few security questions in order to pass the verification process. Once verified, a person can create a “My Social Security” account with a unique user name and password to access their statement.
Overall, the new online statements are a part of a larger government effort to use new technologies to communicate with taxpayers and distribute benefits. The federal government plans to phase out paper checks for all benefit programs in the future, including Social Security, and this is one of their first steps to fulfilling that plan. For more information about the online statements, go to http://www.ssa.gov/mystatement/.