The Importance Of Checking Your Social Security Statement For Accuracy

Several Social Security Cards on a US United States one hundred dollar bill $100 system of benefits for retired elderly people

A couple of years ago I was reviewing my Social Security statement and noticed something odd: I had earnings for 2021 and 2022, but none for 2020. Now, as a small business owner it IS possible to have zero earnings for a given year if your business lost money, but this was not the case. Something was wrong. It turns out that the IRS had not processed my tax return for that year, which is where the Social Security Administration gets their information. Remember, we were still in the throes of the COVID pandemic during tax filing season in early 2021 and things at the IRS, like many organizations, were probably a bit chaotic.

Throughout our working life, we contribute a portion of our earnings to the Social Security program. Ensuring that our Social Security statements are accurate is not just a matter of curiosity; it directly impacts our financial well-being. Let’s explore why you should pay close attention to these statements, what could happen if inaccuracies go unnoticed, and what to do about it if you do discover an error:

What Is a Social Security Statement?

Your Social Security statement provides personalized estimates of various benefits based on your earnings history. Here’s what it includes:

  • Retirement Benefits: Your estimated monthly retirement benefit at different retirement
  • Disability Benefits: If you become disabled and can’t work, your statement outlines potential disability benefits.
  • Survivor Benefits: Information about benefits your family members might be eligible for if you pass away.
  • Earnings Record: A detailed list of your earnings directly influences your Social Security
  • Medicare Qualification: Details related to Medicare
  • Non-Covered Earnings: Information about earnings not covered by Social

Why Check Your Social Security Statement?

Accuracy Matters. Reviewing your statement helps you understand the monthly benefit you’ll be entitled to later in life. Your Social Security payments are calculated based on your earnings

history. Any errors could lead to incorrect benefit estimates and reduced payments. It can also affect your Financial Planning. Knowing your estimated benefits helps you plan for retirement and make informed decisions such as when to start benefits, if and when to claim spousal benefits and how best to provide for your survivors if something happens to you.

What Could Go Wrong?

Underestimated Benefits: Imagine you’ve been contributing to Social Security for decades. However, due to an error, some of your earnings were not properly recorded (which is what happened to me. As a result, your estimated retirement benefit could be significantly lower than it should. You might unknowingly plan for a retirement lifestyle that doesn’t align with reality.

Survivor Benefit Missteps: Suppose your spouse passes away, and you’re eligible for survivor benefits based on their earnings. If their earnings history contains inaccuracies, your survivor benefit could be lower than expected. This could negatively impact your financial stability during a difficult time.

Verify and Correct Your Earnings Record If Needed

  • Regularly Review Your Statement: Don’t wait until Check your statement annually.
  • Online Accessi: Create a “my Social Security” account to view your statements The SSA no longer mails paper statements to individuals under age 60.
  • Check Earnings History: Ensure your reported earnings match what you actually Mistakes can happen, especially during tax season.
  • Correct Errors: If you spot discrepancies, follow these steps:
    • Visit the Social Security Administration websiteii.
    • Verify your earnings using the “Review Record of Earnings”

If needed, correct any errors promptly. You may need to contact the IRS. Reach out to the IRS directly to address your concern. You can do this by:

  • Calling the IRS at 800-829-1040 to discuss your
  • Visiting a local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (if available in your area) to speak with an IRS representative in person.
  • Sending a written inquiry to the You can find the appropriate address on the IRS website.

Explain your suspicion and provide any relevant details about the missing tax return. The IRS will guide you on the next steps. IMPORTANT: Maintain detailed records of your communication with the IRS. Note the date, time, and the name of the representative you spoke with!

Even if you’ve retired and are already claiming your benefits, it could pay to check your Social Security statement. If you do find an error and correct it, the Social Security Administration will pay the additional benefits retroactively.

Your Social Security benefits are a critical part of your financial security. Regularly reviewing your statement ensures accuracy and empowers you to make informed choices for your future.

Additional Resources

  1. Social Security on Learn about Social Security, including retirement and disability benefits, how to get or replace your Social Security card, and more by visiting Social Security on
  2. Online Services: You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, request a replacement Social Security card, print a benefit verification letter, and more by going to the SSA Online Services page:

Joel is Principal and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Navion Financial Advisors, a financial planning and investment management firm serving clients in 22 states. Investment advisory services are offered through CWM, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Carson Partners, a division of CWM, LLC, is a nationwide partnership of advisors. Navion Financial Advisors is a proud member of Carson Partners.

my Social Security Account: A my Social Security account lets you request a replacement Social Security card, check the status of an application, estimate future benefits, or manage the benefits you already receive. You can create a free and secure account online and access personalized tools for everyone, whether you receive benefits or not. Learn more at my Social Security:

The United States Social Security Administration (SSA): You can access official information, check eligibility for benefits, estimate benefits, plan for retirement, apply for benefits, sign up for Medicare, apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and more on the official website of the U.S. Social Security Administration:

Get in Touch

In just minutes we can get to know your situation, then connect you with an advisor committed to helping you pursue true wealth.

Contact Us

Stay Connected

Business professional using his tablet to check his financial numbers

401(k) Calculator

Determine how your retirement account compares to what you may need in retirement.

Get Started