8 things you need to know about retirement benefits

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You don’t have to become an expert in all things Social Security. You don’t, for instance, have to memorize Social Security’s Program Operations Manual System or POMS – the primary source of information used by Social Security employees to process claims for Social Security benefits – from cover to cover.

But it’s well worth having a working knowledge of those things that could directly affect your Social Security benefit.

Take, for instance, your earnings record. Since you began working, Social Security has recorded your reported earnings under your name and Social Security number.  And Social Security updates your record each time your employer (or you, if you’re self-employed) report your earnings. Your earnings determine your benefit amount.

And if you’re earnings are wrong, well, you may not receive all the benefits to which you’re entitled.

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How to check your earnings record

How might check your earnings record? In the past, Social Security mailed you a statement that contained your earnings record and benefit estimate. Today, however, you need to create a “my Social Security” account to review your earnings record. You can do that at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.

When checking whether your earnings record is correct or not, keep the following in mind. One, there’s no statute of limitations on correcting errors related to wages, according to Kurt Czarnowski, a principal at Czarnowski Consulting.

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