While the government works to reopen its field offices, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recommends that recipients seek assistance via the agency’s website first.
However, many people are apprehensive about applying for help on the internet. According to the Boston College Center for Retirement Research, only about half of retirees have used this method since 2013. This is regardless of the fact that, according to an executive order recently issued by President Joe Biden, the SSA has enhanced its online application abilities and is expected to do much more in the future.
Another helpful resource, according to CNBC, is the recently redesigned online benefit statements, a tool that can offer essential information for improving your Social Security retirement payouts.
You may view your statements online by registering a “My Social Security” account. Individuals over 60 who haven’t claimed benefits or set up an online account may have their statements sent via mail three months before they turn 60.
The SSA hopes the new design will simplify federal employees’ process to acquire information and streamline the agency’s complex processes. These assertions are now backed up by fact sheets aimed at specific age groups.
They recommend that workers of all ages review their statements at least once every year to ensure it’s accurate. This is true for employees, from age 18 to 70 years who participate in the program.
Experts believe that such information could also disclose how to get the best out of these benefits. Other information that isn’t specified in those statements should also be looked for.
A Tool for Estimating Your Retirement Benefits
As a result of these changes, the benefit estimates are shown in a bar graph in blue on the new statements when someone claims at nine different sample ages.
As you already know, if you file a claim at the age of 62, when you are first eligible, your payments will be permanently decreased.
Each year you delay until you reach the age of 70, the number of your monthly benefit checks will grow. If you file a claim when you reach full retirement age – 66 or 67, depending on your birth year – you will receive the amount of the full benefit you have earned.
Your advantages will climb even more if you wait until you’re older. This expires when you are 70, as there is no additional benefit for deferrals at that point.
From the ages of 62 to 70, the statement includes a graph that shows how much money you will get each month when you retire.
“The blue bar form is a wonderful addition for workers who need the information to help them make informed decisions about their benefits,” said David Freitag, a MassMutual financial planner, and Social Security expert.
The new statements also include a table that shows a worker’s earnings history, with wages taxed for Social Security and Medicare broken down by year.
However, the statement only shows 20 years’ worth of earnings, whereas the prior statement style contained all of a worker’s earnings history. Workers’ personal “My Social Security” accounts have access to their entire salary history. According to experts, looking back only 20 years is quite limited, and it’s vital to go the extra mile to see your complete earnings history.
However, mistakes do happen. Therefore, the SSA estimates your average monthly earnings based on your 35 highest-earning years. The SSA and other experts recommend that workers review their earnings history to ensure that it displays the exact amount earned each year and that no income has been omitted.
Joe Elsasser, founder and president of Covisum, a Social Security claiming software firm, said that checking the record of your past earnings in your statement “is a valuable exercise for folks to perform to make sure they don’t have any misreported wages.” Sometimes people get a zero when they shouldn’t, he explained.
If you worked in employment where you earned a pension but did not pay Social Security taxes, seeing your whole earnings history will help you figure out how much of your benefits will be changed. The Windfall Elimination Provision, sometimes known as the Government Pension Offset, affects your and your family’s benefit eligibility.
“Seeing the whole revenue history is the only reliable way to test for WEP/GPO offsets,” Freitag stated.
Benefits for Disabled People And Survivors
Also, the statement predicts how much money you would make each month if you were to get disability benefits. This is in addition to finding out if you are eligible for retirement benefits.
There are also estimates of how much money your qualified spouse or children will get each month if you die.
Eligibility for Medicare
The benefits statement will also tell you if you have accumulated enough credits to be eligible for Medicare at the age of 65.
While it is not required to enroll in Medicare Part B when you turn 65, the SSA warns that failing to do so may result in delays or increased monthly costs in some cases.
- Social Security Administration is working to strengthen its online services, such as the benefit application portal.
- The Social Security Administration’s online benefit statements have been updated.
- According to experts, the Social Security online statement can provide information on how to get the most out of your benefits.
For over 30-years Flavio “Joe” Carreno of The Retirement Advantage has been a Federal Employee Retirement System specialist (FERS) as well as a Florida Retirement System specialist (FRS) independent advocate. An affiliate of PSRE (Public Sector Retirement Educators), a Federal Contractor & Registered Vendor to the Federal Government, also an affiliate of TSP Withdrawal Consultants.
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