Once upon a time, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sent out yearly benefits estimates to each taxpayer in the United States. Every year, in some mysterious formula tied to your birth date, you would receive a four page document that listed your personal information, your earnings history, and an estimate of the benefits that would be available for you in retirement, in the case of disability, and for your family in the case of your death. While most people are not confident that Social Security benefits will be available when they retire, it was still an interesting and potentially useful document.
And then they stopped sending them out.
Did you notice? I didn’t. It has been a few years since I’ve received a Social Security statement. I assumed that they were lost in our never ending cycle of address changes, but apparently I was wrong. They’re just not sending them any more, as they’ve moved to an online system.
Did you get the memo? Of course not, because there was no memo. I’m sure there was some perfectly reasonable idea about how people were going to hear about this change. I don’t think it worked, though, because I didn’t hear about it until today. And I spend my life reading, learning, and studying about exactly this sort of thing.
Your SSA benefits documents are now available online via the mySocialSecurity website. You’ll have to make an account, and it seems like it should be easy. I managed to get in after only three guesses about what address they were using. My husband used all his attempts and has been locked out until tomorrow. (Apparently we don’t live at the same place.)
The online document contains all the same information as the old paper statement, but it will be available 24/7, so you can check your estimated benefits whenever the urge strikes you.
Who knows whether Social Security benefits will be available when we all retire, become disabled, or die. Personally, I’m figuring that any benefits that I receive from Social Security will be a bonus if I receive them. However, it is still important to be aware of what is going on. Being able to access these statements is a key to awareness, and they only way to access them is online. So set yourself up an account and see what the SSA is saying.
Thank you to Sandy Smith of Yes, I Am Cheap for bringing this to my attention. Goodness knows how many more years I’d go without noticing that I hadn’t received a statement.
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