Resolving Discrepancies on Your Social Security Earnings Records
As I indicated in my last column, one of the things you should get in the habit of doing religiously – if you are not already doing it – is reviewing the accuracy of your Social Security statements annually. I’m hoping that our last discussion made a convincing case and, most importantly, you now see the crucial importance of and have committed to checking your earnings records as an annual ritual. All I’m trying to do here is to convince you to take on a good habit, so go ahead and make my job easy, would you?
Verifying your data
Once you’ve received your green and white Social Security statement, you’ll need to do three very simple things.
First, make sure that your name is spelled correctly.
Second, verify that the last four digits of your Social Security number, as shown on your statement, are accurate.
The third and final thing is to verify that your earnings, as reported on the statement for the previous tax year, agree with what you have in Box 3 of your Form W-2 (Social Security Wages).
This should be a pretty simple exercise that you could knockout in just a minute or two, but it will help ensure that you are getting all the necessary credits from your years of hard work. One thing to keep in mind here is that the earnings figure you are verifying against your W-2 is strictly from box #3 (Social Security wages), not box #1 ( wages, tips, other compensation), as the two are not always the same, even though for many folks they may end up being the same.
Correcting any errors you detect
If that quick verification exercise reveals a discrepancy, you should contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or visit your local office in person to get your records straightened out. Obviously, you should have your W-2, last pay stub for the particular year in question, and/or tax return to substantiate your claim.
Personally, I’d suggest going into your local office with all of your documents to get assistance. It usually takes several months to update your records to reflect the correct earnings, so you’ll want to make sure that once the office confirms that the changes have been made, you request a new statement so you can see with your own eyes that the corrections have been done.
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