By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
It may have been years or even decades since you thought about how much you earned at your first job. Did you know that you can find out how much you made that first year? Or any year you worked? Your earnings history is a record of your progress toward your future Social Security benefits. We track your earnings so we can pay you the benefits you’ve earned over your lifetime. That is why it’s so important for you to review your earnings record.
You should review your earnings history and let us know if there are any errors or omissions, even though it’s your employer’s responsibility to provide accurate earnings information to us. Otherwise, you will not get credit for money you paid in payroll taxes, and your future Social Security benefits will be lower than you should receive. You’re the only person who can look at your lifetime earnings record and verify that it’s complete and correct. If an employer didn’t properly report even just one year of your earnings to us, that error could reduce your future benefit payments. Over your lifetime, that could cost you thousands of dollars in retirement or other benefits that you’re entitled to receive. It’s important to identify and report errors as soon as possible. If too much time passes, it could be hard for you to get older tax documents. Also, some employers may no longer exist or be able to provide past payroll information.
The best way to verify your earnings record is to visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount and create or sign in to your personal my Social Security account. You should review your earnings carefully every year and confirm them using your own records, such as W-2s and tax returns. Keep in mind that earnings from this year and last year may not be listed yet. When you have a my Social Security account, we send you an email three months before your birthday to remind you to check your earnings and to get future benefit estimates.
You can find out how to correct your earnings record by reading our publication How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10081.pdf.
Start a conversation. Ask a family member or friend what their first job was and let them know they can find out what they made that year.
Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at email@example.com