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A Guide To Understanding Your Social Security Benefit Statement

looking over a social security benefit statementEveryone, regardless of their age, should be able to read and understand the benefits statement that is sent to them by the Social Security Administration, as it may contain important information that will help with financial decisions should the recipient become disabled and find that they need to apply for benefits.

The Social Security Administration mails a copy of an estimated benefits statement to workers every five years, starting at age 25. This changes later on in life – it will be delivered annually once the worker turns 60-years-old. This statement will contain an estimate of the benefits that you will be eligible both now and in the future, as well as a record of your work history and how much you paid in Social Security taxes. However, you can also go directly to to get a copy of your earnings record online whenever you wish to do so.

A Breakdown Of Benefits

The most important parts of this statement are:

The Estimate Of Benefits


At the very beginning of the statement is an estimation of benefits. There should be a breakdown of the retirement benefits that will be received depending on age. For example, retirement benefits may be claimed as early as age 62, however, if the decision to defer is made, that amount may rise between 7% and 8% a year. This amount will max out by age 70. Also, if benefits are claimed before full retirement age, early claiming reductions may be applied.

Retirement age in the United States at this time is between 65 and 67 – depending on when you were born. Keep in mind that any amount listed is just an estimate – when the benefits are applied for, the actual amount given will be determined at that time.


Prior to retirement, if you become disabled and unable to continue to work then it may be possible to obtain payments from Social Security. The estimated amount available will be in the report and will give you a good idea of what you may receive if you become eligible for disability benefits.


While most people aren’t aware of survivor benefits, they do exist. If you pass away, a surviving spouse or children could potentially recover benefits. Those estimated benefits will also be listed here as well as the limit on these payments.

History Of Earnings And Taxes

The work history part of the report gives a full earnings history which should include the amount of money in Social Security taxes that have been paid out of those earnings each year.

Why Should I Pay Attention To This Statement?sign representing estimated benefits

By understanding what you may be able to receive from Social Security, either in retirement benefits or disability benefits, it can help you plan financially for both retirement and the possibility that an unfortunate event or illness leaves you with a career ending disability.

It is also important that you review all of the information because mistakes can and frequently do happen. And those mistakes could affect your right to claim benefits under certain programs.

If I Found A Mistake How Do I Fix It?

In order to fix any errors on the statement, you should contact the Social Security Administration.

Can I Obtain A Copy More Often?

Yes. If you would like to get a copy of your latest statement, you can create an account at the Social Security website and complete a copy of the request form.

My Statement Says I’m Eligible For Disability Benefits But My Application Was Denied – Why?

If you have been injured and applied for disability benefits, there are any number of reasons why that application may have been denied. Paying into the Social Security system is like paying a premium on an insurance policy. You have the protection of being able to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance, but you receive benefits ONLY if you meet the stringent requirements outline by Social Security. In most cases, a social security disability attorney can review your case and help you determine the reason for the denial. Then, they can assist you in appealing the decision.