Millions of Americans are counting on Social Security to see them through retirement. You might be among them. But what would you do if the check you get from the government turns out to be not quite as big as you expected?
A smaller Social Security check is a real possibility that few people are ready to deal with. But the truth is your retirement benefits could shrink for any number of reasons, from unpaid debts to too-high earnings. And then there’s the looming threat of a Social Security crisis. While the government hasn’t made any moves to change the way it pays out benefits, it’s possible today’s workers could get less than they were initially promised if cuts are made to Social Security.
Don’t panic just yet though. Chances are your benefits are secure. But if any of the following 10 situations applies, you could be looking at a smaller Social Security check than you expected.
1. Your earnings record is incorrect
The government determines your Social Security benefit based on your earnings record. If your earnings record is wrong, your check could be lower than you expected. Earnings records mistakes can be caused by all kinds of errors. For example, an employer could have reported your wages incorrectly or used the wrong Social Security number. Or a name change could have resulted in an incorrect record. Whatever the cause of the mistake, you need to fix it, or you risk losing out on benefits.
To check your earnings records and determine whether you need to correct an error, you can create a my Social Security account online. This will give you access to your complete earnings record, so you can verify its accuracy. Generally, you only have three years to correct your earnings, so it’s important to keep tabs on your earnings and fix any issues that arise.
Next: The earnings test