Note: Almost a month after I went through filming the below video and publishing this post, the Social Security office decided to suspend issuing statements. They direct you to the following link: Retirement Estimator. I did read where they have decided to reissue statements but to only those people that are 60 years or older. They haven't announced yet when that will actually take place. I'll keep you posted…..Update 04/19/2012: Frustrated that I hadn't heard anything about Social Security Statements for 2012 and tasked my junior advisor to call or local Social Security office to find out the status. Turns out they still are not mailing out social security statements and there is not timetable on when or if they will.
Update: 05/04/2012: Looks like you can get your Social Security statement online by going to this link: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement/. About time!
You'll have to register for an account to get it. I haven't tested it out yet, but will soon.
The other day I had a chance to sit in on a social security benefits seminar. Part of the seminar was geared toward social security benefits and trying to help our clients decide when is the right time to take their benefits or if they should maybe wait at a later date to take them and also address whether the spouse should potentially draw that social security benefit as well.
One of the take-aways I actually got from the seminar was regarding your social security statement, which they refer to as “The Statement”. How often do you receive your statement? More importantly, what I want to talk about today is what happens if you want to request a new statement, how you actually do so. This is actually one of the little flyers they gave us showing how you can request your social security statement on line. Miss Patty Duke here (on the SSA.gov site) claims how easy it is, how you can do it in less than 10 minutes. I want to put that to the test almost, but also to show you how you would request your social security statement if you are wanting to get a new, updated one.
Getting Your Statement Online
First and foremost, you actually don't have to go on line to do it. You can call your local social security office to do so. One thing I will say, and this is what the social security individual employee that gave the seminar told us yesterday was, their office lines are just terribly busy. They are constantly either processing claims, doing new paper work, taking phone calls, etc. It is, she admitted, incredibly difficult to actually get through to the office. Most times you call and you'll get a busy signal. Just FYI, I am not sure if that applies to all social security offices, but if you are having trouble trying to request it via the phone, that is potentially why.
The other option you have is actually going into the office there, filling out the necessary form, etc. and doing it that way. Once again, they said they are always busy and you might be waiting in a long line, so if you have access to a computer and you feel comfortable going on line doing it, that is how I want to show you today.
Social Security Website
Without further ado, let's actually head on line to take a look at where you go to get your social security statement on line. The first step if you guessed it is the social security administration website. The web address there www.ssa.gov, and you can actually see that highlighted here. Type that into your web browser, hit enter, and this will come up. From here it is actually a breeze. You'll see here in the left hand side bar, look for request a social security statement. All you need to do is click that button. They give you some information about what a statement is, why automatic statements, need to request a statement, etc. You'll actually want to click on “need to request a statement” and that will prompt you to this page here. As you will soon see, before you actually go through the process, you're going to want to get this information handy if you don't have it already, the name on your social security card, your full legal name. You'll want to know your social security number. It is also important to have your date of birth, your place of birth, and your mother's maiden name. These are key pieces of information that are essential to requesting your social security statement on line. The other thing that they will also suggest you have is a record of your earnings history. I think as we will soon see, it is optional, but if you have your record earnings for the last two years, it just makes it that much more helpful for them to retrieve your statement. Let's go ahead and scroll down once you get to this page here.
Social Security Office Closes
The other thing also you will want to notice here, even though it is on line and you would think it would be open 24/7, there are actually only certain times you can do it. That is on top here. Monday-Friday is all day except from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. For some of you late birds that might be requesting your social security statement on line at 2:00 in the morning, more power to you, but you are going to have to wait until 3 a.m. Saturday is 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday is 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Holidays are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. You can see all those times here as well.
The other option I have not mentioned yet is if you want to do it by mail you would request this form here. This is a social security statement request form SSA-7004. I am going to pull that up real quick just so you can see it. This is a PDF that should pull up. Here is the actual social security statement if you want to do it via the mail. I want to say that I read somewhere- let's see if I can confirm that- it is going to take about 4-6 weeks to get it back by doing it this method, just FYI. This is the form you would need to do if you wanted to do it through snail mail.
Requesting Your Social Security Statement
Let's go back to the on-line version. If you want to do the on-line version, scroll down here and you want to click the “request a social security statement” button at the bottom of that. That will get you to this page. Here is where you actually start entering all the information in, basic information (what language do you speak, social security number, first name, middle initial, last name, your date of birth, place of birth, gender, mother's maiden name, telephone number, address.) This is where you start seeing some of the optional information (if you have a different name, mailing address, city, state, if you have another social security number you have used.) All basic information. Here is the earnings portion I was mentioning, last year's earnings, this year's earnings. If you have that information, it is just helpful, not required to get your statement. As I mentioned, any more information you can give them is that much more helpful. Basically all you do is fill this in. Then, you just click on continue. That will bring you up to a confirmation page where you confirm all the information and submit and you're good to go.
That is how simple it is to request your social security statement on line. Very, very simple. I want to say as well, even on line it is going to take almost the same turnaround time it would via snail mail, by doing that form 7004. Either way it is going to take you about a month to a month and a half to get it, but it is super easy. There is no cost; this is free. If you need to get that information or just trying to figure out what your benefit is or your trying to do some retirement planning and you don't have the most current statement handy, this is the sure fire way to do it.
I hope that was helpful. If you have any more questions regarding social security or anything financial planning related, head over to the blog, goodfinancialcents.com, and I have tons of information over there to help you out. Until next time, we'll see you soon.