How to Avoid Costly Social Security Mistakes to Maximize Retirement Benefits

Many individuals count on Social Security to provide a comfortable retirement or supplemental income. You want to ensure you receive your retirement money without losing a fortune in oversight or costly mistakes. Whether you are married or previously, small mistakes begin adding up quickly. Before you risk the income meant to cover the rest of your life, check out the top ways to avoid making mistakes while maximizing your retirement benefits for years to come.

By keeping strict tabs on your earnings record, you will be poised to receive all the benefits you are entitled to. Many people aren’t keen on keeping logs, but you must keep an eye on yearly earnings. By doing so, you risk very little oversight in terms of benefits and can have confidence in what you are receiving. Errors do crop up from time to time, including mistakes in earning amount reporting from an employer. Another error may include missing earnings due to mistakes in processing a name change, divorce, marriage, and more.

While you are still working, checking your Social Security statement throughout employment is a good idea. Doing so will go to great lengths to ensure you haven’t lost any money due to clerical errors. Choose one day a year to go in and complete an overview of each transaction and, should you notice a mistake, collect proof of such to send to the Social Security Administration. You will need to include copies of your pay stubs and W2, so make sure you have that on hand, too. If the SSA verifies your claim, they will correct the record on your behalf.

Social Security benefits are dependent upon working a certain length of time. These benefits mean you have to earn forty work credits for a max of four credits per year (depending on your level of earning). Furthermore, the calculation of benefits is based on an average of the thirty-five highest-earning years of your career. Therefore, in the event of fewer than thirty-five years of working, you will be penalized with $0 annual earnings for each of the missing years.
Completing the appropriate calculations well before retirement is the key to ensuring your earnings statements are in order and you won’t risk losing benefits in this way. You may also choose to work a few additional years if you miss a few years of employment in the past 35 years of your career. This method will boost your Social Security benefits and remove some of the $0 earning years from your top earning 35. This incident may also apply to individuals who began their careers when Social Security didn’t cover them.

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