Your Guide to the New Social Security Statements

social security

Determining when you take your social security is an important decision in order to make sure your retirement and long-term care needs are met. Read on to learn more about the statements that will be returning to mailboxes this month. Thanks for visiting us at Advocare. We provide care management and transition services to area residents throughout South Florida. 

Beginning this month, many workers will get Social Security benefit estimate statements in their mailboxes for the first time since 2011. But to get the most out of them, you need to know how to read them, fix mistakes in them and plot your retirement plans around them.

I’ve spoken to two experts for their advice on all counts, which I’ll offer below.

If you do receive one of these statements from the Social Security Administration, don’t toss it or file it away unread. “It’s probably the most crucial financial planning document for every American,” said InvestmentNews contributing editor Mary Beth Franklin, author of the new e-book, Maximizing Your Social Security Retirement Benefits.

Why Paper Statements Are Here Again

Back in 2011, the Social Security Administration began phasing out mailed annual benefit statements to most workers to save an estimated $70 million a year. The agency said people could get the same information by setting up my Social Security accounts at its website, Socialsecurity.gov.

But its decision raised a ruckus, especially since only 14 million wage earners have logged on to create the accounts. (I’m one who has, and check my Social Security statement online at least once a year even though I won’t start claiming for another 16 years or so.)

Mailings for people 60 and older resumed in February 2012 and Congress required the agency to revive the paper version starting this month — for millions of others (though not for everyone).

Now, the paper mailings go out every five years to American workers age 25 and older who are not receiving Social Security benefits and who haven’t registered for my Social Security accounts. That means boomers can expect to get theirs at age 50, 55 and 60. After age 60, people will get the printed statements annually.

The Reason to Open Yours

Why bother opening the letter when it arrives?

The primary reason is that your statement will give you an idea how much you can expect to receive from Social Security depending on what age you apply for benefits. And this information will help you decide when to start claiming them. You can begin taking Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, but they’ll be smaller than if you wait until you’re what Social Security calls Full Retirement Age — that’s now age 66 and gradually rises to 67 for people born in 1960 or later. But you can get even larger benefits if you don’t start receiving them until you turn 70. (In my case, the difference between applying for benefits at 62 and 70 is more than $14,000 a year.)

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