SSA urging people to sign up for an online account

While most people might not have realized it, last week was "my Social Security Week," a campaign run by the Social Security Administration to raise awareness among people of all ages about the importance of retirement planning.

In particular, the SSA, acting through various social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, encouraged people to take the necessary steps to set up an online account enabling them to see their Social Security earnings statement.   

It wasn't all that long ago that the SSA would mail a hard copy of this statement to people just a few months before their birthday. However, as we've discussed on our blog before, the agency eliminated this service due to cost concerns.

In light of this reality, agency officials are claiming it's all the more important for people to create an online account, as it will enable them to access this same vital information 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- or at least once a year.

What information can people find on their online account concerning their Social Security benefits?

  • An estimate of benefits paid out at certain milestone ages based on current salary, age and amount paid into the program.
  • A snapshot of work history/earnings data, which can be examined for any errors that could prove costly down the road.
  • Online calculators designed to allow users to determine their benefits under various scenarios.

"Remember that your social security benefit is only one part of your retirement package," said one SSA official. "It never was intended to be your sole source of income when you no longer choose to work."

It should be noted that in addition to the information about retirement benefits, the online account also provides comprehensive data about what projected disability benefitswould be in the event you are stricken with a debilitating illness or suffer a devastating injury.

Here's hoping that more people make the decision to join the over 13 million who have opened online accounts with the SSA.

Source: The Washington Post, "Give yourself a birthday gift, check your Social Security statement," Michelle Singletary, Aug. 19, 2014; NY 1, "Social Security Administration wants Americans to start thinking about retirement," Tara Lynn Wagner, Aug. 27, 2014