When making any financial decision it’s always useful to have as much information as possible. There’s no time when this is more important than deciding whether you have the ability to retire or not. In its surveys, AARP has found that many people nearing retirement don’t understand social security benefits and how to determine the optimal time to claim them.
The best way to start by educating yourself about social security and its impacts on you is to review your Social Security Statement. In the past, these were statements mailed each year to people over 25. Now, the Social Security Administration has made these statements available online. The release of Social Security online statements aims to help people plan their benefits better by offering access to the statement with ease. To obtain your online statement, head over to SSA.gov.
In order to sign up you must:
– have a valid email address,
– have a Social Security Number,
– have a U.S. mailing address, and
– be at least 18 years of age.
– Answer personal questions to prove your identity
The website will prompt you to set up an online account with username and password for easy future access.
The statement itself is pretty basic, with two main ingredients. The Benefits section gives a breakdown of everything that you’ve contributed during your lifetime. It will also inform you of the benefits you’re eligible. The Earnings section will show the income that you’ve earned each year during your lifetime, which is pretty cool to see. Hopefully you’ve experience an upward trend over your lifetime.
That’s really all there is to the statement at this point. As I said, it’s pretty basic. But if you’re nearing retirement, or you’re simply interested, then this is a valuable piece of your financial planning.
(Image courtesy of 401k on Flickr)