Whether you're already receiving benefits or are years away from retirement, it's important to keep an eye on your account with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to ensure you will collect what you have earned. But with the SSA warning about long lines at recently reopened local offices and lengthy wait times on the phone help line, tracking and managing your benefits can be difficult if you haven't set up an online My Social Security account.
This story was produced in collaboration with Senior Planet, which helps people 60 and older learn technology skills to reach their goals, to find community and to thrive in the digital world. Join us for 50-plus free virtual programs each week to learn about a wide range of topics, such as podcasts, telemedicine, saving money, getting in shape and making friends.
Taking a few minutes to create this account will give you more control of your benefits while saving you time. Now that the SSA has mostly stopped sending out paper benefit statements, an online account is the primary way people can keep track of their retirement benefits. As of July 2021, nearly 60 million people have My Social Security accounts, according to SSA data. You can use your account to:
- Get estimates of how much your monthly benefit would be if you claim it early, at full retirement age or at age 70.
- Set up direct deposit of your benefit payments.
- Request a replacement Medicare or Social Security card.
- Change your address or phone number on file with the SSA.
- Verify your earnings over your career.
- Request a benefit verification letter, which you can use as proof of income when applying for a loan or mortgage or for government assistance, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or housing vouchers.
- Request a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S, the forms the agency mails to you every January for tax purposes that summarize your benefits for the previous year.
- Check the status of a pending claim or an appeal of a disability benefits decision.
When you are ready to apply for benefits, you can click through to the claim form from your My Social Security account or go directly to the application section of the SSA website.
How to get started
To set up a My Social Security account, you must be at least 18 and have a Social Security number, a valid email address and a U.S. mailing address. If you want to add an extra layer of security to your account, you will also need some form of identification or financial information, such as a driver’s license or tax return. Make sure that you have all of this information handy.
Here’s how to set up your account.
1. Go to the My Social Security sign-up page and click on Create an Account (that’s the long blue button on the left of the screen). On the next screen click on the "Create a new account" button, then on "Sign in with LOGIN.GOV" at the top of the succeeding page. Login.gov is a secure, single sign-in service members of the public can use to access accounts with participating government agencies, including Social Security.