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Social Security: Earnings for retirement benefits are reviewed automatically by SSA

Q: I retired effective January 2014, so my Social Security payment only reflects earnings through 2012. When will my retirement include 2013 wages?

A: Wage and self-employment earnings for 2013 will be automatically reviewed for possible increase to your retirement benefits when posted to your work record, approximately by October.

You do not need to do anything for this to happen.

Employers pay estimated taxes to IRS during the year but details of how much individual employees earned are only sent to Social Security with annual W-2’s.

Employers can report W-2 information electronically with free SSA Business Services Online at www.socialsecurity.gov/thirdparty/business.html.

Incentives encourage electronic W-2 reporting but many still are received by paper, requiring additional handling and processing time.

W-2 processing for a year is usually completed during the fall of the following year. Social Security receives more that 250 million wage reports annually.

If you worked for more than one employer during the year, total earnings will not be posted until all your employers are processed.

Your 2013 earnings will automatically be reviewed for possible increase to your retirement benefits when posted to your work record.

If they increase benefits, the increase is retroactive to January 2014.  This automatic review does not mean that benefit amounts will increase a significant amount or even at all.

Retirement benefits are based on your best 35 years of employment. New earnings would have to replace earnings already used to increase your amount.

This review is done automatically every year that new earnings are posted to your work record. You do not need to take any action for this to happen.

Whether or not receiving monthly benefits, you can check your personal Social Security earnings record by creating your my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/ and looking at your SSA Statement.

Earnings on the Statement are updated as described above, with earnings for a year posted during the fall of the next.

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 howard.kossover@ssa.gov. Read his online articles at http://socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.

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