What If Your Social Security Earnings Record Isn’t Right? What You Can Do


Social Security payments are largely based on your lifetime earnings history. If those records are incorrect, you may receive a lower benefit when you retire.

Of course, nearly everything that’s reported to Social Security comes from your employers and tax returns (if self employed). Although you receive a statement every year on how much you earned, those numbers may be off.

Here’s the bottom line: Your earnings records need to match what you made over your career. The Social Security Administration needs accurate information in their system.

“Accurate earnings records are vital to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and to every worker in the United States,” the SSA notes.

“If Social Security cannot match the name and Social Security number (SSN) reported on a W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to its records, the agency cannot credit the earnings to that worker’s record. When earnings are missing, the worker may not qualify for Social Security benefits or the benefit amount may be wrong.”

That’s pretty serious stuff. The SSA is working with employers to correct the approximately 10% of records that are inaccurate. You can also check your annual statement for errors.

“The agency encourages workers to view their personal earnings records, and submit corrections, online by creating a my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.”

“Through their my Social Security account, people can check personal information and conduct business with Social Security. If they already receive Social Security benefits, they can start or change direct deposit online, request a replacement SSA-1099, and if they need proof of their benefits, they can print or download a current Benefit Verification Letter from their account.”

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