Are you ready to bid adieu to 2020? Many of us are. But the truth is, you may have some unfinished Social Security business. Here are a few important moves to make before the new year.

1. Review your annual earnings statement

Your monthly Social Security benefit is calculated based on your wages during your 35 highest-paid years in the workforce. That's why it's important that the Social Security Administration (SSA) have accurate wage information for you on file. If there's a mistake in your earnings record, it could result in a lower monthly benefit later in life.

Each year, the SSA issues all workers an earnings statement summarizing their taxable wages for the year. If you're 60 or older, you'll get yours in the mail. If you're younger, you'll need to create an account on the SSA's website and access it there. Either way, read that statement carefully and report any inaccuracies you spot. You may need to provide the SSA with pay stubs, tax returns, or other information to ensure that your wage information is complete.

Closeup of professionally dressed older person.

Image source: Getty Images.

2. Check your credit reports

What do your credit reports have to do with Social Security? A lot, potentially. If you see unfamiliar activity on your credit reports -- say, a new account that's been fraudulently opened in your name -- then it could be that a criminal has gotten a hold of your Social Security number. That's bad from an identity theft perspective. If you're old enough to start collecting Social Security benefits but haven't yet signed up, this also puts you at risk of having a criminal file a claim in your name and steal that money right out from under you.

You're entitled to a free copy of your credit report every week between now and April 2021 due to the pandemic, so be sure to request yours at least once from all three reporting bureaus -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you spot troubling activity, you'll need to investigate. If you suspect your Social Security number has been compromised, contact the SSA. 

3. Decide if you'll claim benefits in 2021

If you'll be at least 62 years old in 2021, you'll be eligible to start collecting a monthly Social Security benefit. Whether that's a good idea is a different question. You're entitled to your full monthly benefit, based on your earnings history, once you reach full retirement age. While you can sign up sooner, doing so will slash that benefit for life.

You can use this table to see what your full retirement age looks like based on your year of birth:

Year of Birth

Full Retirement Age




66 and 2 months


66 and 4 months


66 and 6 months


66 and 8 months


66 and 10 months

1960 or later


Data source: Social Security Administration. 

You may decide to move forward with claiming benefits in 2021 even if you haven't yet hit full retirement age. If so, make sure you understand the financial ramifications involved. If you're married, talk to your spouse about that decision to ensure that your partner's on board.

Before 2020 wraps up, tackle these important Social Security tasks. Doing so could help you avoid problems while making the most of your benefits -- whether you're claiming them in 2021 or much, much later.