If you receive a Benefit Verification letter, sometimes called a "budget letter," a "benefits letter," a "proof of income letter," or a "proof of award letter," we have good news for you! A new standardized Benefit Verification letter is now available when you need proof of Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income or Medicare.
In addition to name, date of birth, and the benefits received, the new Benefit Verification letter includes other identifiers to prevent misuse and fraud. This is an added benefit to you as proof of income for loans, housing assistance, mortgage and other verification purposes.
The same standardized letter is also available if you need proof that you do not receive benefits, or proof that benefits are pending. If you are an individual representative payee, you can use the my Social Security Representative Payee portal to access the same standardized Benefit Verification letter online for your beneficiaries.
This new standardized Benefit Verification letter is another example of our commitment to improve our service to you.
No matter how you request your letter, whether calling our national 800 number, your local office, the Interactive Voice Response system, or online with your personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount, the Benefit Verification letter now contains a seamless look.
Q: How are my retirement benefits calculated?
A: Your Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over your lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or "indexed" to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then we calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit. This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age. You may be able to estimate your benefit by using our Retirement Estimator, which offers estimates based on your Social Security earnings. You can find the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.
Q: I’m planning to retire next year. I served in the Navy back in the 1970s and need to make sure I get credit for my military service. What do I need to do?
A: You don’t need to do anything to apply for the special credit for your military service — it is added automatically. For service between 1957 and 1967, we will add the extra credits to your record at the time you apply for Social Security benefits. For service between 1968 and 2001, those extra military service credits have already been added to your record. So you can rest assured that we have you covered. Read our online publication, Military Service and Social Security, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10017.html. Then when the time comes to apply for retirement, you can do it conveniently and easily at www.socialsecurity.gov/retireonline.
This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213 or visit www.socialsecurity.gov.