By Warren Beck
This year, Oct. 12 is National Savings Day. This day serves as an important reminder to plan for your financial future.
Social Security is a vital part of any financial plan. We have online tools to help you understand your potential Social Security benefits and how they fit into your financial future.
You should periodically review your Social Security statement using your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Your statement is an easy-to-read summary of the estimated benefits you and your family could receive, including potential retirement, disability and survivors benefits.
Our plan for retirement tool in your personal my Social Security account allows you to check various benefit estimate scenarios. You can compare the effect different future earnings and retirement benefit start dates have on your future benefit amount.
Please let friends and family know they can take steps to improve their financial knowledge by signing in to their secure my Social Security account. If they don’t have an account, they can easily create one at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.
Q.: My child, who gets Social Security, will be attending his last year of high school in the fall. He turns 19 in a few months. Do I need to fill out a form for his benefits to continue?
A.: Yes. You should receive a form, SSA-1372-BK, in the mail about three months before your son’s birthday. Your son needs to complete the form and take it to his school’s office for certification. Then, you need to return page two and the certified page three back to Social Security for processing. If you can’t find the form we mailed to you, you can find it online at: www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-1372.pdf.
Q.: I worked for the last 10 years and I now have my 40 credits. Does this mean that I get the maximum Social Security retirement benefit?
A.: Probably not. The 40 credits are the minimum number you need to qualify for retirement benefits. However, we do not base your benefit amount on those credits; it’s based on your earnings over a lifetime of work. To learn more about how you earn Social Security credits and how they work, read or listen to our publication How You Earn Credits, available at www.ssa.gov/pubs.
Q.: Are Social Security numbers reassigned after a person dies?
A.: No. We do not reassign Social Security numbers. In all, we have assigned more than 500 million Social Security numbers. Each year we assign about 5.5 million new numbers. There are over one billion combinations of the nine-digit Social Security number. As a result, the current system has enough new numbers to last for several more generations. For more information about Social Security, visit our website at www.ssa.gov.
Q.: Is it illegal to laminate your Social Security card?
A.: No, it is not illegal, but we discourage it. It’s best not to laminate your card. Laminated cards make it difficult — sometimes even impossible — to detect important security features and an employer may refuse to accept them. The Social Security Act requires the Commissioner of Social Security to issue cards that cannot be counterfeited. We incorporate many features that protect the card’s integrity. They include highly specialized paper and printing techniques, some of which are invisible to the naked eye. Keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers. Do not carry it with you. Learn more at www.ssa.gov.
Q.: Someone stole my Social Security number, and it’s being used repeatedly. Does Social Security issue new Social Security numbers to victims of repeated identity theft?
A.: Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, so you aren’t alone. If you’ve done all you can to identify and fix the problem, including contacting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but someone is still using your number, Social Security may assign you a new number. If you decide to apply for a new number, you’ll need to prove your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or immigration status. You’ll also need to provide evidence you’re having ongoing problems because of the misuse of your current Social Security number. You can read more about identity theft at www.ssa.gov/pubs.