How to check your Social Security benefits online

Last week, I drove out to the box factory to see my brother Jeff and my cousin Nick. Ostensibly, I made the trip to check up on Mom's financial situation. Really, though, it was an excuse to spend three hours chatting about nothing and everything all at once.

As I was looking through Mom's Social Security info, I decided to check my own account online.

“Look,” I said. “I'll get $1125 per month if I start Social Security in thirteen years. If I wait eighteen years, I'll get $1598 per month. That's as if I had another half-million dollars saved for retirement.” [I based this very rough estimate on the math for the four-percent rule.]

“Wait,” Nick said. “You can check your Social Security benefits online?” He was less interested in my hypothetical half-million dollars in added wealth than he was in looking at his Social Security account.

“Yes,” I said. “Of course. Generally speaking, the U.S. government websites are awesome.” It's true. They are. Our government may get a lot of crap for the things it does wrong, but government websites are universally useful and informative.

“But is that safe?” Nick asked.

“Yes, it's safe,” I said. “It's the official Social Security site with official Social Security information. The government isn't trying to scam you.”

“I didn't know you could do this either,” Jeff said.

“Huh,” I said. “Maybe I should share this at Get Rich Slowly. If you guys don't know about this, there are probably tons of other people who haven't heard about it.”

How to Check Your Social Security Statement Online

It's easy to check your Social Security statement online. Everything works exactly as you'd expect and the website security is tight. Here's how.

  1. Head to the official Social Security website. (Make sure you're at ssa.gov and that the start of the URL includes “https” indicating that it's a secure connection.)
  2. Create an account. Follow the instructions carefully. When you receive your activation code, return to the Social Security website to complete the process.
  3. After you've created your account, log in. Even here, you'll encounter an additional security measure. After you submit your password, the website will email you a one-time security code. After you enter that, you'll be able to access your information. (You'll get a new security code each time you access the account.)

From the main page of your account, you have access to all of your basic Social Security info, such as your earning record:

My Social Security Statement

And your estimated benefits:

My estimated Social Security benefits

You can also download your most recent Social Security statement and/or order a replacement card. (True story: My Social Security card was stolen from the glovebox of my Datsun 310 GX in 1988, when I was a sophomore in college. I've never replaced it.)

There's not a lot to see in your Social Security account, but that's fine. Sometimes you simply need to check your estimated benefits or your lifetime earnings. The Social Security website makes that easy and efficient to do.

More about...Planning, Retirement

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Michael King
Michael King
2 years ago

Im just curious if at a certain age cut off you shouldn’t even count on this? I can remember that they projected by Time I retired(I am almost 26) we wouldnt have a social security because the funding would run out. After looking it seems in 2033 by a 2014 report social security will run out of funds.

FoxTesla
FoxTesla
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael King

My self-derived expectation is to plan on receiving 25% of the projected benefits, and make up the rest via other retirement/investment methods.

A. S.
A. S.
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael King

I know that I’ve seen a study that said that if benefits were reduced somewhere between 20-30%, then program would be completely solvent under current rules/age brackets. So even if you want to take the most pessimistic approach, you will likely receive at least 70% of your expected benefit. My general thought is that benefits WILL be reduced, but not to the extent to make the program completely solvent in the present. A small percentage cut is somewhat likely, but not a large one due to public perception. However, extending the age brackets even further is very likely as it… Read more »

S.G.
S.G.
2 years ago

Yeah…
Yeah…
Yeah…
Wait, you can request a card now? I remember my last time sitting at ssa waiting my turn for the stupid card.

MarkD
MarkD
2 years ago

Funny – I just tried to do this today before reading this on your blog. I wasn’t able to get my online SS report (or create an account) because I had previously frozen my Equifax credit report. They told me I could unfreeze it temporarily and then create the account or I could visit a local SS office to create my account.

Nato
Nato
2 years ago
Reply to  MarkD

I also had trouble signing up for this 3 months ago until I unfroze my Equifax credit report temporarily. Note that the front line phone rep wasn’t able to see what was wrong, and it was only after pushing harder and talking with a really techy support guy that we figured out that my Equifax block was the problem. This is probably going to affect more people than normal, as last year’s data breaches caused many news sites and blogs to recommend that people freeze their credit reports, just like me. For reference, I had frozen all 3 credit reports… Read more »

tracy
tracy
2 years ago

I typically do this once a year around my birthday and since that is rapidly approaching decided to do it now. Their expected benefits depend on me continuing to work and earn at least the same amount as I make now until it is time to collect. Which…I don’t plan to do. Do I remember that some smart blogger made a calculator that would allow me to change the inputs? Or is there a way to do that on the SS site? I’d love to play around with various scenarios…even though, like so many others, my actual planning pretends social… Read more »

JoeHx
JoeHx
2 years ago

It’s also very nice to use if you’re just curious about your historical income. It only includes income that was eligible for social security tax, so if you worked somewhere (normally a government job, I think) that didn’t have FICA taxes, it won’t show up. For instance, I worked as a teacher’s assistant during my undergrad years at college, and none of those dollars got FICA tax.

teinegurl
teinegurl
2 years ago

Wow I didn’t know this! I just signed up and took me less than 10 minutes and very interesting to see my earning record from the time I started working 2004 to now. Although the retirement amount is slightly depressing it was encouraging to see my earning go up over the course of time.

Barbara Colwell
Barbara Colwell
8 months ago

I would like to know why me and my husband are paying taxes on our benefits he is 73 and I am 75

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