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Social Security Administration pushing online access to info

New Jersey Social Security Disability recipients can now access their benefit information online on the Social Security Administration's website. This new tool will help people who receive or plan to receive survivor, disability or retirement benefits to estimate their future benefits and decide when the time is best to file their claims.

The SSA stopped mailing statements to workers and beneficiaries last year to cut costs. The agency revised this practice in February and again mailed paper statements to workers who are 60 years old or older who are not yet claiming their benefits. The agency also plans to mail hard copy statements to workers in the year they have their 25th birthday.

Online statements contain a great deal of information. Workers can use them to verify the accuracy of their reported earnings. This is important because future retirement benefits are based on the 35 years of highest income. Reporting that is not accurate can result in overpayment, in which case Social Security will come after the recipient for the difference. Inaccurate reporting can also result in underpayment, where beneficiaries do not receive the benefits to which they are entitled.

Beneficiaries of SSDI can also use the online statements to monitor their payments. It is very important for SSDI beneficiaries to closely examine their statements regularly to ensure that their benefits are being paid as they should.

Obtaining SSDI benefits can be a very complex process and once benefits are being paid, beneficiaries should be vigilant to make sure that they are receiving their payments correctly. In the event that the online statement shows a discrepancy between the benefits that should be paid and the benefits that are being paid, it is essential to contact the SSA immediately.

Source: USA Today, "New online tool helps you estimate Social Security benefits," Sandra Block, May 14, 2012

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