We’ve all heard warnings not to give out our Social Security numbers anywhere – not on the phone, not online and not to someone you don’t know. So it might seem counterintuitive to set up an online account for managing your Social Security benefits. However, this is the exception, and here’s why.
Opening a my Social Security account is not just for people who are close to retirement. In fact, workers age 18 and older are eligible to create an account, and everyone should – especially before someone else does.
Open a my Social Security Account to Defend Against Fraudsters
There are numerous chilling stories out there about hackers applying for benefits using stolen Social Security numbers. The best defense against someone else opening an account or applying for benefits under your number is to open your account early, and check it often.
This is especially true for anyone over full retirement age who has not yet applied for benefits, as they may be specifically targeted by fraudsters.
Opening a my Social Security Account is Safe and Easy
Those concerned about online security don’t need to worry about the my Social Security account website. It’s a very secure platform, requiring a username, strong password – which must be changed every six months – and a unique code sent by text or email.
For an extra layer of protection, people can set their accounts up to require answers to financial or identity verification questions.
Not setting up a my Social Security account is the riskier option.
What You Can Do With Your my Social Security Account
Once the account is set up, you can access your latest Social Security statement on demand. This is important for anyone under age 60 who will not receive a statement in the mail, or for anyone over 60 who may have misplaced their paper statement. The primary insurance amount (PIA) on your statement is critical for analysis and planning.
If you are still working, check your earnings record each year – employers usually report by March or so. Those currently receiving benefits can see the record of payments and the breakdown of each payment: gross amount and deductions for Medicare premiums and taxes.
You can also download a benefit verification letter, which serves as proof to lenders or anyone else requiring evidence of income that you receive Social Security benefits in the amount shown on the letter.
As you may know, new Medicare cards have a unique Medicare number to replace the Social Security number that appears on the old cards. You can also find this on your my Social Security account.
Open your my Social Security account here.
If you have any questions or need help setting up your account, you can schedule a complimentary consultation with our team of financial advisors.
Elaine Floyd, CFP, is Director of Recruitment and Life Planning for Horsesmouth, LLC.