It may be years, or even decades, since you thought about how much you earned in your first job. Did you know that you can find out how much you earned this first year? Or any year you worked?

Your income history is a record of your progress toward your future Social Security benefits. We track your income so we can pay you the benefits you’ve accrued over your lifetime. That’s why it’s so important that you review your income history.

You should review your earnings history and let us know if there are any errors or omissions, although it is your employer’s responsibility to provide us with accurate earnings information. Otherwise, you won’t get credit for the money you paid in payroll taxes, and your future Social Security benefits will be less than you should receive.

You are the only person who can view your Lifetime Earnings Record and verify that it is complete and correct. If an employer has incorrectly reported even one year of your earnings to us, this error could reduce your future benefit payments. Over your lifetime, it could cost you thousands of dollars in pensions or other benefits to which you are entitled.

It is important to identify and report errors as soon as possible. If too much time passes, it may be difficult for you to obtain older tax documents. Additionally, some employers may no longer exist or may be able to provide past salary information.

The best way to check your income is to visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount and create or sign in to your personal my Social Security account. You should carefully review your income each year and confirm it with your own records, such as W-2 forms and tax returns. Keep in mind that earnings for this year and last year may not yet be listed.

When you have a my Social Security account, we’ll email you three months before your birthday to remind you to check your income and get future benefit estimates.

You can learn how to correct your earnings record by reading our publication, “How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record,” at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10081.pdf.

Start a conversation. Ask family or friends about their first job and let them know they can find out what they earned that year.

Charo Boyd is a Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for the Indianapolis Metro Area and Southern Indiana. His column appears every other Monday.

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