Finance, Retirement planning

Why did my social security statements stop?

Social Security statements

Social Security Statements and accessing them online

I have a similar story to many people. I’ve been working since I was about 15 years old.  Starting with a paper route that I shared with my buddy in High School.

That job changed into a part time distributive education job or more aptly named High School co-op when I was 17.

Every year since 1999 I’ve received a statement from the Social Security administration stating my earnings, taxes paid, and my estimated benefits.  There they were. All those years listed out in front of me, starting in 1983.

It’s kind of weird when you see your entire career laid out in summary numbers like that.  When you read long term statistics about how much you will earn over your lifetime, you kind of glaze over.  When you see over a million dollars in earnings on paper, it makes you wonder about several things. Where did all that money go? What did it do for me? Finally, are the taxes I paid all those years to support the system going to keep me secure in retirement?

Did you know?

Did you know that only 60% of Social security benefits are paid to retirees?  The other 40% go to disability claims and survivor benefits.  So my sister and sister-in-law, whose marriages ended in bitter divorce, and then their husbands dropped dead at a “youngish” age, are collecting early benefits, because they were married to the guy for more than 10 years.  Umm….yeah, I want to make sure my “money is in the bank.”

In my long ramp up to retirement and rebooting my career, I started thinking about hunting around for a better way to manage that important component to my financial future.  I was recently “thinking out loud” when I wrote about questioning if I had too many eggs in the retire early basket.

So as part of my “Finance after 50” mantra, I decided to take some initiative and set up my online account, that is available to anyone who has paid into the system.  You can set your Social security online account up here.

Where do they get their information?

Believe it or not, the challenge questions that they offered to me didn’t look even remotely familiar. So it abruptly, “locked me out” for 24hrs.   We tried my wife’s and the same thing.  Challenge questions that weren’t even remotely close, like asking to confirm a middle or maiden name.  The maiden names presented weren’t even familiar, so the only choice was “none of the above”.  Ehhhh/Buzz.  Not accepted and her account was locked out too.  I got so freaked out after this attempt, I went to one of the big third party credit agencies, and set up a free credit check account, and everything was “bang on” with scores and balances and history.

My first call this morning was to their help desk, where they said they had reset the account, but I still could not attempt a login.  They told me that the challenge questions are pulled from the big agencies.  So how come the big agencies seem to have all my current information up to date?  None of this really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about the security of my information.  Also, it makes me wonder why the paper statements stopped in the first place. This service is meant to replace the paper statements, but I didn’t think that would happen unless it was authorized. I’m glad I’m working on this now, because it just might take me 10 years to get this worked out.

Social Security administration website

Do you worry about your financial information getting stolen?  What measures do you take to protect your information?