Any person who is of 18 years of age or older and is required to pay Social Security taxes will likely already have automatically created a Social Security Earnings Record. Eventually, this record will be used to calculate the amount of payments that a person can collect when it is time for them to retire and/or when they apply to receive Social Security benefits.
To view your Social Security Earnings Record, you may create an account by visiting the website for the Social Security Administration once you turn 18. Your account will not only contain your overall Social Security Earnings Record, but also an annual Social Security statement that will show how much you paid towards Social Security taxes in a given year.
Therefore, when it comes time to retire or if you need to claim Social Security benefits earlier than the standard age of retirement (e.g., disability benefits), the total balance displayed on your Social Security Earnings Record will be used to calculate the amount of Social Security benefits that can be distributed to you and/or your loved ones.
Thus, it is very important that you periodically review your Social Security Earnings Record and make sure that it does not contain any errors. Otherwise, you may be forfeiting benefits that you have rightfully earned while working over the years. If you discover an error on your Social Security Earnings Record or annual statement and need to correct it, you should contact a local government lawyer immediately for further legal guidance on the matter.
What Should I Look For?
There are three important items that individuals should look for when determining whether their Social Security Earnings Record contains an error or not. These items include:
- Checking that a person’s name is accurate and is the one they provided to their employer in order to receive a paycheck;
- Confirming that the right date of birth is listed on the record; and
- Verifying that the amount of earnings provided in the statement are accurate and not missing any amounts of earned income.
What Is the Most Common Error?
In general, there are two main reasons as to why an error may appear on a person’s Social Security Earnings Record. The most common of these two reasons is due to an error regarding missing earnings.
The second most common reason that an error may appear on a person’s Social Security Earnings Record is due to a human clerical error (e.g., a typo, incorrect amount, missing information, etc.).
Why Are My Earnings Missing?
In general, some potential reasons as to why a person’s earnings may be missing from their Social Security Earnings Record include:
- That an employer has inaccurately reported the individual’s earned income;
- The employer reported an individual’s earnings using the wrong Social Security number and/or legal name;
- The individual provided their employer the wrong Social Security number or one that did not lawfully belong to them; and/or
- The individual got married, filed for divorce, or changed their name for some other reason, but never reported the name change to the Social Security Administration.
What Documents would I Need to Correct an Error?
The most important documents that a person would need in order to correct an error contained in their Social Security Earnings Record include some of the following paperwork:
- A wage and tax statement (e.g., a W-2 form, 1099-MISC form, etc.);
- Their most recent income tax return;
- A timesheet, pay stub, or wage slip;
- Their Social Security number or other government identification number;
- A record of the wages they have earned throughout the year; and/or
- Various other documents that prove that the individual did in fact earn income.
Although it is best if this information is readily available to submit to the Social Security Administration along with a claim, an individual may also provide a list of the following items if they are unable to procure any of the above documentation:
- The name of their last or current employer;
- The place in which they worked (e.g., business address, name of the company, etc.);
- The dates they worked for that employer;
- The amount of income they generated while working for that employer; and
- The legal name and Social Security number that was used while employed by that employer.
Once I Have Evidence, What Is the Next Step?
After an individual has gathered all of the evidence required to support their claim, they should notify the Social Security Administration about their issue by filing the necessary legal forms. Such forms can be found on the website for the Social Security Administration. If an individual does not have access to the internet, then they may either call the Social Security Administration directly or schedule an appointment to meet with an officer at their local Social Security office.
Once the issue has been reported, the Social Security Administration will open up a case to investigate the problem. Depending on the severity of the error and the amount of information that an individual provides, the correction process can take up to one to two years to even appear on an individual’s statement.
Thus, the more detailed that a person is in describing the error and the more information they provide the Social Security Administration about their Social Security Earnings Record, the better the chances are of having that error corrected. However, this may also mean that it might take the Social Security Administration longer to review all of those documents.
On the other hand, it may also mean that the Social Security Administration can issue a decision faster. This is because all of the necessary information will already be available to them and there will be no need to delay the correction process by having to ask the individual for additional documentation.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
An individual whose Social Security Earnings Record is inaccurate or contains mistakes may be collecting insufficient social security benefits for both themselves and/or their loved ones. Once such an error is discovered, an individual should immediately notify their employer and contact the Social Security Administration. If there is still an issue with a record even after an individual has notified the proper authorities, they should consult a legal professional for help.
Thus, if you believe that your Social Security Earnings Record is incorrect or contains errors, then it may be in your best interest to hire a social security attorney for further advice on how to fix these errors as soon as possible. Any delays in resolving mistakes on your Social Security Earnings Record may result in receiving inadequate social security benefits.
A government attorney who has experience in handling such cases will be able to assist you in communicating with the proper government authorities as well as can discuss some ways that you may be able to fix your Social Security Earnings Record. Your attorney can help you to complete the necessary legal forms and can ensure you file them in accordance with the proper procedures.
Your attorney can also make sure that you meet all of the required deadlines and do not miss out on collecting payments or benefits that you are rightfully entitled to under the law. In addition, you should also consult with an attorney if you have been overpaid or underpaid due to a clerical error in your record.
Your attorney can assist you with setting up a monthly payment plan to pay back overpaid funds to the Social Security Administration, which in turn, will prevent you from receiving a penalty. Alternatively, your attorney can make sure that you are paid the correct amount of benefits if you believe you were underpaid. Your attorney can also help you to gather the proper evidence to support either type of claim.