New From Social Security: Find Benefits Information Online

To save on costs, last year the government stopped mailing future Social Security benefits estimates to workers each year. Now that information is online. It's a good starting place when planning your retirement.

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Social Security accounts for nearly a third of monthly income for the average retiree, according to a BlackRock retirement survey. For many, the benefit is their only source of income. So it’s difficult to plan without a clear picture of what you’ll receive. Now you can find out online.

The Social Security Administration has added a new feature to its website—My Social Security. The first time you use it you must set up an account. It’s easy, and once done you can logon anytime. One note of warning: you’ll be asked a handful of questions to verify your identity, and if you don’t answer correctly you must wait 24 hours before trying again.

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The government had been mailing earnings and benefit information to workers once a year. But that practice, in force since 1999, stopped last year in a move to save $60 million annually on postage and related costs. The practice was recently reinstated for people 60 and older who are not already receiving benefits.

The annual statements were a popular service, allowing workers to review government records of their earnings for accuracy and to get a picture of their future benefits at various retirement ages. Most of today’s workers will retire without any other source of guaranteed monthly income. That makes it more important than ever to understand what your Social Security benefit will be—and how you can maximize the benefit by delaying the date you start to collect.

Here’s what you can learn about your benefits on the website:

  • Estimates of your retirement and disability benefits
  • Estimates of benefits your family may get when you pass away
  • A list of your lifetime earnings
  • The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid
  • Information about qualifying and signing up for Medicare
  • Things to consider when thinking of retiring
  • How to apply online for retirement and disability benefits
  • A printable version of your Social Security Statement