Social Security statements have been available to the taxpayer and potential Social Security recipient for years, and Social Security has mailed a statement annually to taxpayers over age 25 since 1999. Mailing occurs about three months prior to the worker’s birthday. Beginning with July 2011 birthdays and April 2011 mailings, Social Security will stop mailing statements, saving $30 million in 2011 and $60 million in 2012. An online statement may be available along with the benefits estimator on the Social Security website, and Social Security anticipates resumption of the mailing to workers over age 60.
Benefit Statement Advantages
The Social Security statement provided estimates of benefits you should receive if disabled immediately, if retiring early, if retiring at full retirement age and if retiring at age 70. Estimated survivor benefits were also included. A table with your yearly income for your work life was especially helpful. The statement placed the figures at the fingertips of the worker, reinforcing the benefits available and the importance of Social Security.
Social Security Benefits
Social Security popularity arises from retirement benefits, but disability and survivor benefits come from unexpected events that are equally important. These estimates that were previously available on your Social Security statement are now available when you apply for benefits at your local Social Security office. You may need to provide your most recent W-2 or tax return, as Social Security completes records after filing of tax records.
Calculation of benefits for family members uses a percentage of the primary worker's insurance amount. If you know the worker’s full retirement age benefit, you can apply the percentage for the family member. A surviving spouse at age 60 receives 71.5 percent of the worker’s full retirement age benefit or 75 percent if caring for deceased worker's minor child under age 16. A spouse can receive about 35 percent of retirement benefits of the spouse if retiring at age 62 and 50 percent if by waiting until full retirement age. An ex-spouse married to the worker for 10 years receives the same amount. A child can receive 75 percent as well. A minor child or spouse of a disabled worker can receive up to 50 percent of the disabled worker’s benefit. If several individuals claim benefits based on one work history, Social Security applies a maximum to the total, reducing all benefits by a percentage to keep the total benefits within the maximum.
Social Security provides a benefits estimator to calculate estimated benefits if you have enough Social Security credits to collect benefits. You must have 10 years or 40 credits of employment in a job that pays into the Social Security system. You cannot use the estimator if you are receiving Social Security on your own record or another work history. The retirement estimator has a 25-minute timer and you must move to another page after the third warning. If you retain your Social Security statement from a prior year, you may use the Social Security online calculator that requires entry of your annual income.