Updated: Oct 5
You don't have to be a retiree or in pre-retirement to register with the Social Security Administration (SSA.gov). It is important that anyone with any earned income in the past or present should be signing up for a “my Social Security Account” online via the link here.
Here are some reasons why:
1. Know your benefits: You can download the benefit statement personalized based on your earnings. The statement gives you an estimates of future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. This is an important step in retirement planning. The statement also can be used to verify the income used for calculations and the Social Security (FICA) and Medicare taxes paid.
SSA sends paper statements only every 5 years between 25-60 years. I came across a situation where the spouse died without having a latest statement. There was no access to the benefit statement for the surviving spouse to know how much benefit he/she can expect from social security without the hassle of going to the nearest SSA office. I would recommend downloading the statement and keep a printer copy with your other year-end statements.
2. Prevent benefit theft: If you are not receiving Social Security benefits, registration would secure your account by preventing others from filing for the claim. In this age of identity theft and data breach, you may not want to be surprised that someone has access to your social security information. Quoting Bob Veres, one of the foremost thought leaders in the financial planning profession, "The bottom line here, I think, is that it may not be possible to protect clients from cyberattacks or cyberfraud, but it may actually be possible to protect them from the consequences of a data breach."
3. Online services: You can view or update your contact information (e.g. phone, address), or get a replacement social security card, replacement Medicare card, replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042-S for tax season for those drawing these benefits.
4. Benefit verification letter: For retirees on social security, this letter can be used as proof of income or age when applying for loans, housing etc.
Don't wait to register till you start thinking about retirement! I urge you to use this free service to register online for “my Social Security Account” at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/ to not only protect your account but also to have easy access to your benefits and card services.