Millions of Americans Ignore This Free Retirement Planning Tool

Photo by Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com

The number of people who have registered for a mySocialSecurity account has skyrocketed since the Social Security Administration debuted the online portal in May 2012. Yet, the percentage of users who access their statement online has plummeted.

A recent report from SSA’s inspector general reveals that in fiscal year 2012, there were about 2 million registered mySocialSecurity users, and 96% of them accessed their statement online. By 2018, there were about 38.8 million users — but only 43% accessed their statement online.

It’s a good idea to create a mySocialSecurity account even if you never use it: The act of claiming your account can thwart identity thieves, as we detail in “3 Free Ways to Protect Your Social Security Number.”

Still, if you aren’t also using your mySocialSecurity account to actually access your statement, you’re ignoring a free retirement planning tool that is key to ensuring you will receive all the Social Security retirement benefits you’ve earned.

Checking your Social Security statement routinely

Your Social Security statement includes both your estimated benefits and your earnings records, among other details. You can view a sample statement on the SSA’s website.

Your estimated benefits are a basic piece your retirement planning puzzle. It’s all but impossible to calculate your total retirement income without knowing how much you can expect to receive in Social Security retirement benefits each month.

Your earnings record is the SSA’s record of your lifetime earnings. Regularly reviewing its accuracy is critical, because your earnings directly affect how much you will receive in Social Security retirement benefits.

The sample statement explains:

“Remember, it’s your earnings, not the amount of taxes you paid or the number of credits you’ve earned, that determine your benefit amount. When we figure that amount, we base it on your average earnings over your lifetime. If our records are wrong, you may not receive all the benefits to which you’re entitled.”

As we detail in “7 Social Security Terms You Should Know to Boost Benefits,” if an employer improperly reports your earnings for even one year, that inaccuracy could end up costing you $100 in benefits every month. That’s $1,200 every year — for the duration of your retirement.

Another reason to review your earnings record regularly is because the sooner you notice a discrepancy, the easier it will likely be to correct. You may need tax documents like a Form W-2 to correct your earnings record. You are more likely to have such documents on hand if relatively little time has elapsed between the time you were paid and when you discovered the error.

Creating a mySocialSecurity account

As we report in “Social Security Checklist: 7 Tasks You Must Do Before Claiming,” anyone who is at least 18 years old and has a Social Security number, email address and mailing address can create a mySocialSecurity account.

To register for an account, visit SSA.gov, the official website of the Social Security Administration.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
9 Forgotten Frugal Strategies — and How to Resurrect Them
9 Forgotten Frugal Strategies — and How to Resurrect Them

These time-tested methods can help us live smarter today.

12 Products to Keep Your Car Clean and Organized
12 Products to Keep Your Car Clean and Organized

These items will help put your vehicular mess to rest — and each is available for less than $20 on Amazon.

7 Other Retailers With Free Prescription Delivery
7 Other Retailers With Free Prescription Delivery

Amazon’s new pharmacy is hardly the first to offer free shipping.

8 Products That Make It Easier to Get Fit
8 Products That Make It Easier to Get Fit

Amazon reviewers give high marks to these tools that can help you get in shape without a gym.

12 Ways to Maximize Your Social Security Checks
12 Ways to Maximize Your Social Security Checks

You may be eligible for more retirement income than you realize.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

These 10 Postal Price Hikes Start Next Week
These 10 Postal Price Hikes Start Next Week

Starting on Jan. 24, the price of various mail and shipping services will rise.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire
The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire

I’m a millionaire several times over. I got here the same way you can — by following these simple steps.

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.