“Your annual earnings determine the amount you will receive from Social Security in retirement. However, incorrect or omitted earnings could cause you to miss out on thousands of dollars in retirement benefits. It's up to individual employees to spot mistakes and take action to correct them.”
- Check your Social Security statement.
- Wait for your statement to be updated.
- Prepare for common problems.
- Gather proof of your earnings.
- Contact the Social Security Administration.
US News & World Report’s recent article entitled “How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record” explains that your Social Security earnings record lists all the earnings under your name and Social Security number that have been reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA). This will one day be used to determine your Social Security payments. Your Social Security earnings report is broken down by year on your annual Social Security statement. You should periodically review your Social Security earnings information because missing earnings can result in lower Social Security payments.
Check Your Social Security Statement. The SSA doesn’t mail paper Social Security statements anymore to anyone under age 60. However, you can view your statement online, by creating a Social Security account. Your Social Security statement will list your earnings that were taxed by Social Security for each year of your career. Check these earnings against your tax returns or W-2 forms to make certain that they were recorded correctly. You should check your Social Security statement each year as part of your annual financial checkup.
Wait for Your Statement to Be Updated. It may take a couple of years for earnings to be included on your Social Security statement. If the incorrect earnings are for this year or last year, your record may not have been updated yet. Therefore, the issue may resolve itself.
Prepare for Common Problems. The SSA says most wages are automatically credited to workers without an issue, but errors can occur. Sometimes Social Security earnings are reported incorrectly by employers, or the wrong name or an incorrect Social Security number is entered into the system. There can also be issues, if you change your name when you marry or divorce and don't notify the SSA.
Gather Proof of Your Earnings. Make certain that you retain the paperwork that quantifies your pay. Acceptable documentation of earnings could include a W-2 form, your tax return, or a pay stub. If you don't have written documentation of your work history, write down the name of your employer, the dates you worked and how much you earned.
Contact the Social Security Administration. Finally, when you’ve collected the documentation, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. If you see a mistake in the earnings listed, collect the documentation that demonstrates the correct amount. Then make an appointment with your local SSA office. They may contact your employers to verify earnings information.
Reference: US News & World Report (April 5, 2021) “How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record”