Protect Your Social Security With This Must-Do Move

More than 60 million Americans rely on the income that Social Security provides, and tens of millions more are counting on Social Security to help them make ends meet in the future when they retire or if they become disabled. Not only do workers get valuable benefits, but spouses and other family members can also receive money from Social Security.

It can be hard to understand the full range of benefits that Social Security pays. To help make things simpler -- and to give you the chance to verify key information that the Social Security Administration collects about you and your benefits -- it's crucial to check your Social Security statement on a regular basis. The beginning of a new year is a great time to get the latest information about what you can expect from Social Security.

How to get your Social Security statement

It used to be that the SSA sent out Social Security statements by mail on a regular basis. At one point, you could expect to receive a mailing each year, but funding constraints led the SSA to reduce that in the early 2010s to once every five years. More recently, the agency made more dramatic cuts, and so now, only those who are 60 or older and not yet receiving benefits will get a Social Security statement in the mail.

However, the SSA has moved most of its information online, and by signing up for its online service, you can get access to your Social Security statement via the internet whenever you want. The SSA calls its program "my Social Security," and it's intended to give you a central point to manage your benefits and get the information you need. To sign up, all you need is some key personal information for identification purposes, and you'll need to provide an email account that the SSA can use to set up the account. Before you know it, you'll be able to see your Social Security statement.

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