Since 1939, the month of March has meant one thing in the world of sports: March Madness. In this tournament, 68 college basketball teams compete throughout the month until only four remain. Coaches gather their teams to drive home the gravity of the moment, reminding them that they’ve worked hard and that how they respond to the pressure will directly determine the outcome.
When it comes to retirement, you can secure your own winning outcome by teaming up with Social Security and taking advantage of services offered online. Start by opening a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
What can you do with a my Social Security account? Allow us to introduce you to my Social Security’s own final four.
- Use your account to view your Social Security Statement and verify your earnings history each year. Your future benefits are based on your recorded earnings.
- Stay focused on your financial future by getting estimates of your retirement, disability and survivor benefits, if you are still working.
- Keep up the full-court press by managing your benefits, if you already receive them.
- Get immediate proof of your current Social Security benefits or a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax purposes.
- While everyone focuses on college basketball, create your own March Madness with Social Security. You can open your online my Social Security account during one of the commercial breaks.
Don’t wait until crunch time. Your moment is now. Take advantage of your own personal my Social Security account to stay on top of your annual earnings history and future benefit estimates. Staying ahead of the game is key to having a winning future in retirement. Social Security is a dependable team player, assisting you to your retirement championship, and my Social Security is the Most Valuable Player on the court. Check out your final four at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay is Social Security’s public affairs specialist in Hawaii.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: I’m gathering everything I’ll need to file my taxes this month. Do I have to pay taxes on Social Security benefits? Also, where can I get a replacement 1099?
Answer: Some people who get Social Security must pay federal income taxes on their benefits. Still, no one pays taxes on more than 85 percent of their Social Security benefits.
You must pay taxes on some portion of your benefits if you file an individual federal tax return and your combined income exceeds $25,000. If you file a joint return, you must pay taxes if you and your spouse have a combined income of more than $32,000. If you are married and file a separate return, you probably will have to pay taxes on your benefits. You can read more about tax preparation in relation to Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/taxes.htm. Social Security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor and disability benefits. They do not include Supplemental Security Income payments, which are not taxable.
You can also get a replacement 1099 or 1042S when you open your own personal my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Question: I want to make sure I have enough credits to receive Social Security retirement benefits when I need them. How can I get a record of my Social Security earnings?
Answer: The best way for you to check whether you have earned enough credits (40 total, equaling 10 years of work) is to open a free my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to review your Social Security Statement any time you want.
Once you create an account, you can:
- Keep track of your earnings to make sure your benefit is calculated correctly. The amount of your payment is based on your lifetime earnings;
- Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working;
- Get a replacement 1099 or 1042S.
- Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them; and
- Manage your benefits: Change your address and start or change your direct deposit.
Accessing my Social Security is quick, convenient and secure, and you can do it from the comfort of your home.
Question: I am very happy that I was just approved to receive disability benefits. How long will it be before I get my first payment?
Answer: If you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, there is a five-month waiting period before your benefits begin. We will pay your first benefit for the sixth full month after the date we find your disability began. For example, if your disability began on June 15, 2015, your first benefit would be paid for the month of December 2015, the sixth full month of disability, and you would receive your first benefit payment in January 2016. You can read more about the disability benefits approval process at www.socialsecurity.gov/dibplan/dapproval.htm.