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Retirement Hacks

April 17, 2021, 4:24 p.m. EDT

Whether you’re 55 or 25, do this to secure your future Social Security benefits

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By Alessandra Malito

Americans may not receive Social Security until a qualifying event, such as turning 62, having a long-term disability or experiencing a death in the family, but they should still check up on their Social Security profile no matter their age. 

Retirement Tip of the Week: Create an account with the Social Security Administration to verify your identity, check your history and understand what you’re entitled to receive in the future. 

The Social Security Administration allows individuals to create an account with the agency through their “my Social Security” portal , also known as mySSA. Retirees can use the website to request a replacement card or change their address on file, but others who are not yet receiving benefits can view estimates for their future checks, analyze what they’ll receive versus their spouses and check on application status. 

Listen to the latest Barron’s Live podcast , MarketWatch edition, about Social Security 

Those checkups can be crucial for all Americans, for numerous reasons.  

First, a mySSA profile can protect individuals against hacks. “If you set up your Social Security my account, someone else can’t set it up in your name,” said Diane Wilson, a financial adviser and founder of My Social Security Analyst . This is especially important for people who may have been the victim of fraud or breach .

The profile allows individuals to see an estimate of their future benefits, which can help them determine the best strategies for claiming. The earlier someone claims their benefits before their Full Retirement Age, which is based on their birthday, the less they’ll get of their benefit every month. At Full Retirement Age, retirees get 100% of what they’re owed and if they delay up to 70 years old, they’ll receive even more. When to claim depends on other sources of income in retirement as well as life expectancy and health, but having an idea of what to expect can help create a solid financial plan for the future.

Another benefit: You can confirm your wage history and ensure the information the government has is accurate. This is critical for receiving the right benefit later. Social Security benefits are based on numerous factors, including lifetime earnings and the average monthly earnings of the past 35 years with the highest pay

Creating an account is simple. Individuals must be at least 18 years old, have a Social Security number and a valid U.S. address as well as an email address. After going to www.ssa.gov/myaccount and creating an account, the SSA will verify the person’s identification, send a security code and determine the best measure of communication, such as email or text.

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