Think about this: how often do you check on your personal finances, for example, the amount of money in your savings account, or how your investment portfolio is doing? Chances are that the answer is – you check from time to time and likely always have a general sense of your financial status.
Next question: how often do you check on your estimated future Social Security benefit – you know, the benefit that you will almost certainly rely on during your golden years? Unfortunately, for far too many, the answer to that is probably that you check when it is almost time to claim benefits, and when, by the way, it will likely be too late to make any serious adjustments to your retirement plan. That, however, is easily correctable.
Social Security and your future
According to a majority of Social Security beneficiaries, their monthly payment represents a “major” portion of their retirement income. Thus, it makes a lot of sense to periodically monitor your potential future benefits to ensure your personal information – especially your reported income – is correct. That is, after all, what your Social Security benefit will be based on, and it is through your personal “my Social Security” online account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount that all of the information Social Security has on file for you, including your estimated future benefit amount, can be seen. Nearly all those on Social Security agree it would be very hard to make do without it, so Social Security will be a very important factor for your retirement comfort and monitoring it as you would your other finances is simply smart, well before it’s time to claim benefits.
What can I do at my online SS account?
Checking to make sure all your information is correct can save you untold angst when you later claim. Your profile obviously includes your name, address, phone number and email address as well as other data which must be 100% accurate to avoid later problems. It’s also where you can choose how you wish to communicate with the Social Security Administration, define access security terms and later (when it’s time to claim) where you specify the bank account to which your benefits will be deposited. In your “my Social Security” account you can also see your lifetime earnings (both those your benefit will be based on, and your total reported annual earnings) and get a Statement of Estimated Benefits to see what your future payment will be. You can also make changes to your profile, request a new Social Security card, get a benefit verification letter, and request a replacement form SSA-1099 for income tax purposes. Your “my Social Security” account reflects what Social Security has on file for you and what your future benefits are likely to be and should be looked at as a portal to your future. Plus, when it’s time to claim your benefits, having your online account already set up will mean you can apply for your benefits online, saving you a trip to your local Social Security office and greatly expediting the entire application process.
How do I set up my online Social Security account?
Setting up your online “my Social Security” account is a relatively simple process, but pretty stringent security measures will be used to make sure you are who you say you are. The most time consuming part of setting up you online account will be establishing your identity through one of Social Security’s identification sites, either ID.me, or LOGIN.gov. Both are acceptable means of establishing your sign in credentials, but ID.me provides more robust security to further protect against fraud. ID.me is not a government entity but is federally certified to provide secure digital identity verification to government agencies. Establishing your secure credentials is a prerequisite to setting up your “my Social Security” online account and can be done by clicking here on either LOGIN.gov, or on ID.me.
Once you have your secure sign in credentials established, simply go to www.ssa.gov/myaccount and click on “Create an Account” and follow the instructions, the first of which will be to sign in with your new ID.me or LOGIN.gov credentials. At that point, you’re on your way to having access to all of your Social Security information, along with the ability to perform many online transactions, including applying for your Social Security benefits when the time comes.
What if I live outside the United States?
Prior to October 2023, those eligible for U.S. Social Security who lived outside the United States were not permitted to have online access to their Social Security profile and, thus, were unable to perform any of the online functions described herein. That was a big issue, for example, for U.S. citizens who chose to retire overseas and had to rely on a local Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) within a local U.S. Consulate or Embassy for assistance with Social Security matters (including applying for U.S. benefits when they became eligible). Now, those eligible for U.S. Social Security benefits have the ability to set up and access their “my Social Security” online account using the ID.me security credentials and, therefore, have the ability to perform many Social Security transactions online. More information about foreign online access via a “my Social Security” account can be found at this link to Social Security’s Office of Earnings & International Operations.
Set up your “my Social Security” online account today
Having online access to your Social Security information is something everyone should consider doing. No more lengthy telephone wait times, long delays to get basic transactions done, or frustrating visits to a crowded Social Security office. Set up your “my Social Security” account today! And make it a habit to check your information regularly. After all, it’s your future.
 Those who had an online account established prior to September 18, 2021 can continue to use their previous user name and password to access their “my Social Security” account.