This Social Security statement change could simplify your retirement planning

The Social Security Administration announced a new statement redesign that could allow Americans to maximize their benefits in retirement. (iStock)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced its online statement redesign in October, one that will allow Americans to view their estimated Social Security benefits in retirement, and even take control of their retirement planning to maximize them.

"One of my top priorities is to provide information to people in clear and plain terms about Social Security’s programs and services," SSA Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said. "The streamlined Social Security Statement contains clear messaging and makes it easier to find information at a glance, helping to simplify our complex programs for the public."

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Workers can increase their Social Security paychecks

U.S. citizens ages 18 and older can create a "my Social Security account" to view their job history and see an estimate of their future payments and benefits online. Those who have not signed up for an account by the age of 60 will begin receiving benefit statements by mail three months before their birthday.

The Social Security Administration suggests that those in the workforce check their accounts at least once a year to ensure their earnings are accurately recorded.

Once online, users can see their benefits eligibility if they begin receiving benefits at the eligible age of 62. These retirees who withdraw benefits early will receive less than the full monthly amount each year. The paycheck amount for Social Security benefits rises to the full amount at age 67, which is considered full retirement age. Those who wait until age 70 to take out their benefits are eligible for more for delaying their retirement, and Americans don't gain anything financially by delaying their benefits past the age of 70.

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New changes to Social Security benefits statements

Social Security announced that its new online interface allows users to quickly access and understand their personal information, enabling them to make key decisions about their financial future and future benefit amount. The following are a few changes to the redesigned Social Security Statement:

  • Ability to view benefit eligibility in easy-to-use boxes on the first page
  • Personalized retirement benefit estimates for all ages in a color bar chart
  • Earnings record in one column for users to check for earnings information accuracy
  • Added key points about benefits that may not be common knowledge

"The agency conducted extensive research, review, and testing to make the updated Statement easy to understand," the SSA stated. "The new Statement is shorter, uses visuals and plain language, and includes fact sheets tailored to a person’s age and earnings history. It also includes important information people have come to expect from the Statement, such as how much a worker and family members could expect to receive in Social Security benefits and a personalized earnings history, in a clear, concise manner."

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