The Social Security Administration (SSA) has had, since 2014, an online option (called my Social Security) for receiving annual benefit statements -- however, if you do not wish to open an account, you may still estimate your Social Security benefits. Until 2011, the SSA had sent all working Americans a printed annual statement roughly three months before their birthday. The statement included one's lifetime earnings record, as well as estimates of retirement, disability, and family survivor benefits. It also reported earned credits, which indicated if one would qualify for Medicare at age 65.
You may estimate your Social Security benefits by using one of the following tools on SSA.gov:
- The Retirement Estimator gives estimates of your retirement monthly benefit, based on your actual Social Security earnings record. The calculator shows early (age 62), full (ages 65-67 depending upon your year of birth), and delayed (age 70). The Retirement Estimator also lets you create additional "what if" retirement scenarios based on current law.
- If you do not have an earnings record with Social Security or cannot access it, there are also other benefit calculators that do not tie into your earnings record. The calculators will show your retirement benefits as well as disability and survivor benefit amounts if you should become disabled or die.
If Social Security is a part of your retirement income planning, make a point of checking your estimated benefits at least annually so you know how much to expect -- and how much you'll need to provide from your own savings.
Also, remember that Social Security benefits don't automatically increase every year. They typically are raised to reflect an increase in inflation.