Checking Your Social Security Statement

I received my annual Social Security statement in the mail over the weekend. This is an annual report that the Social Security Administration sends out each year. The statement shows annual earnings for each year that you worked, and calculates your estimated Social Security benefits at retirement should your future earnings remain consistent with your previous earnings.

What's important is to check the accuracy of the earnings shown for the past three years.

That's because there's a statute of limitations for correcting Social Security earnings. The time limit is three years, three months, and fifteen days from the end of the calendar year.

So the first thing I do when I get my Social Security statement is check the accuracy of the last three years of annual earnings. For this, you'll need a copy of your federal tax return. You'll be looking for copies of your Form W-2, and Schedule SE if you are self-employed. The earnings figures shown on the Social Security statement should match the total of:

  • Box 3 of all your Forms W-2, and
  • Line 4 from Schedule SE section A, or Line 6 from Part I of Schedule SE.

In my case, the figures shown on the Social Security statement matched exactly. However, if your figures don't match, you may want to contact the Social Security Administration to correct your earnings history.

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