This two-minute task can help you avoid a reduced Social Security benefit


Social Security benefits are earned based on the taxes you pay during your career. Since your hard work qualifies you for this retirement income — and it will be an important source of funding to help support you after the paychecks stop — it’s critical that you get every dollar to which you are entitled.

That’s why it’s so important to complete a simple two-minute task every year.

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This social security task should be checked off your to-do list

A crucial but simple task you should do throughout your life to avoid having your Social Security benefits reduced is to make sure you get credit for all the income you earn.

You see, you pay social security contributions on your wages, up to a certain income ceiling called the “basic salary limit”. Since this limit is $147,000 in 2022 (and is the inflation-adjusted equivalent of that amount each year), most people are taxed on their entire annual salary. Employers withhold these taxes and report your earnings to the Social Security Administration.

The SSA then keeps a statement of your income. And when the time comes, it adjusts salaries throughout your career to account for inflation, then pays you a standard benefit equal to a percentage of the average salary of the 35 years when your earnings were highest.

The problem is that your benefits will be accurate only if your employer correctly declares all your wages and that Social Security documents them correctly. And this does not happen in all situations because mistakes can be made. If you don’t want to see a reduction in your benefits due to bad data, you should check your income history every year.

Here’s how to check your income history

The good news is that checking your pay history takes two minutes or less and is super easy, so there’s no excuse not to. All you have to do is log in mySocialSecurity gov.

If this is your first time, you’ll need to create an account by providing some basic credentials and choosing a username and password. If you are already registered, you can simply log in and confirm your identity by receiving a security code by email.

After logging in, accept the ‘Terms of Service’ and you will be redirected to the main page where you can click ‘Review all your earnings now’. You should see a list of each work year in which you had wages reported to the Social Security Administration along with the wages reported for that year. Using this information, you can confirm that the correct amount of income was reported.

If you’ve never verified your income, you’ll want to go back as far as possible by comparing reported income to the amount you know you earned. This could mean digging up old tax records and paperwork. But once you get into the habit of confirming your salary every year, you’ll only need to check the most recent year.

If you discover an error, acting quickly to correct it while you still have all your documents is the best solution. This will be much easier than doing it a few decades from now when you retire and find your benefits are lower than expected. That’s the main reason it’s worth taking two minutes a year to confirm that Social Security has the information it needs to give you the full payments you deserve.

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