Paycheck Chronicles

Check Your Social Security Earnings Record


Whatever you think about Social Security, or its future, you should still have an interest in ensuring that you and your earnings are property recorded in the Social Security system's database.  Errors therein could be very expensive for you!  Missing or incorrectly reported earnings could result in lower benefits for you or your family.

Almost all Social Security benefits, including disability and survivor benefits, are based on the work record of the covered individual.  Each year, employers provide the Social Security Administration with the earnings of their employees.  These earnings count towards the credits required to earn certain benefits and also towards the calculation of the benefit amounts.

Unfortunately, the matching of employer records to employees in the Social Security files is imperfect.  Each year, millions of dollars in earnings aren't properly applied to the right employee records.  It is your responsibility to ensure that your earnings history is accurate.

The easiest way to verify your earnings history is to create an online account at MySocialSecurity.  For most people, this account can be set up online, though certain individuals may have to go to a Social Security office to verify their identity. (This happened to my daughter, who has little information with which the online program could identify her.)

Once logged on, choose the Earnings Record tab under My Home.  You should see something like this:

Compare the information listed there with the amount of income reported on your income tax return.  If there are any errors, click on the blue + sign above the list for instructions for correcting your record.

As you can imagine, it gets more difficult to fix errors the older they are.  Heck, I'd be hard pressed to locate my 2004 income tax returns, much less find the supporting documentation like W-2s or business documents, and many of my old employers no longer exist.  An annual check of your Social Security record will help you make sure that any errors can be fixed easily and that you or your family will receive the maximum benefit to which you are entitled in the event of disability or death.

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