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Taxes are not normally withheld from Social Security benefits

Q: How long does it take for wages to appear on Social Security records?

My 2012 earnings were not yet on my record when I filed for benefits a few weeks ago.

A: Employers report employee wages to Social Security only once during the year, when you receive your W-2 form.

Posting from employer information to individual records goes on all year and usually completed by fall of the following year for records given to SSA by paper W-2.

Nearly all 2012 wage records will be posted by the fall of 2013.

W-2 data submitted electronically by employers using the free Social Security business services online (BSO) posts faster.

SSA representatives may request a prior year W-2 before earnings are posted so new beneficiaries receive credit for immediate past year wages.

Whether or not this is done, the end result is the same because records of all beneficiaries are automatically reviewed when new earnings are posted.

If the new earnings increase benefit amounts, any adjusted amount is retroactive.

This applies to new beneficiaries as well as for people who have been receiving SSA benefits for years.

Q: How many Social Security numbers have been issued?

A: In all, more than 460 million Social Security numbers have been assigned, with about 5.5 million new numbers issued each year.

There are over one billion combinations of the nine-digit Social Security number so the current system has enough new numbers to last for several more generations.

See the Numbers & Cards section of the SSA website,, if you need to replace or change the name on your card at no charge.

Did You Know? Official Social Security information is on social media platforms in addition to the agency website, Recent uploads to the SSA YouTube channel ( feature cats promoting online retirement applications.

Not a cat person? Watch a baseball stadium video instead.

Filing for SSA retirement soon? Go to the Benefits tab of to learn about benefits and to estimate amounts.

File online when convenient for you or call the SSA national number (1-800-772-1213, TTY 1-800-325-0778) for an appointment.

Either way, you can watch the cat and baseball SSA videos.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at