Social Security plays a vital role in financial planning for the tens of millions of working Americans and their families. As you contemplate how you'll make ends meet in retirement, you'll increasingly find that Social Security benefits offer a lot of advantages that other financial resources don't.

Most recently, the cost-of-living adjustments that Social Security provides have become of paramount importance for those fighting the impacts of high inflation rates. Recipients are expecting a healthy boost in their monthly checks come 2023.

If you're not yet receiving Social Security benefits, you might wonder how much you should expect the program to pay you and your family, both in retirement and under other circumstances. To help with that, the Social Security Administration offers a statement that includes vital information about your future benefits. Here's more about what the Social Security statement is and how you can get it.

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The basics of your Social Security statement

You might be surprised to see all the information that your Social Security statement includes:

  • Estimated benefits in retirement, depending on whether you work until your full retirement age, start taking benefits early at age 62, or wait until later to take benefits at age 70. The differences will show you just how big the financial implications are in deciding when to claim your Social Security.
  • Estimated benefits if you become disabled and qualify for Social Security's disability benefit program.
  • Benefits that your family members may be entitled to receive, including those for spouses and qualifying children.
  • Your status in qualifying for Medicare benefits when you reach age 65.

In addition, you'll get basic information about how the Social Security Administration made its estimates. Essentially, the government agency takes your earnings history and runs it through several calculations and formulas to come up with its estimated benefit amounts. The statement also includes some assumptions about what your future earnings will look like in making its final conclusions.

How to use your Social Security statement

Because of these assumptions, you can't count on the Social Security statement getting things exactly right about your future benefits. If your earnings during the remainder of your career differ significantly from the statement's assumptions, the results won't be accurate. Moreover, early retirement -- whether voluntary or forced -- could change the amount of work history you have, leading to different benefits than what the statement will produce.

However, one thing that's of vital importance is to cross-check the information your statement shows about your earnings record. Most of the time, the government collects the correct numbers. If an employer doesn't make accurate reports, though, you could potentially get less in Social Security benefits than you deserve.

What to do to see your Social Security statement

Your first stop to get your Social Security statement should be the my Social Security website. There, you'll be able to create an account, sign in, and see your most up-to-date statement. For those 60 and older who don't have an account through my Social Security, you can expect to receive a mailed Social Security statement three months before your birthday.

There's no deadline to check your Social Security statement, but the sooner you take a look, the longer you'll have to take its information into account within your broader retirement planning. Given how important Social Security is to most Americans, it's smart to put getting a Social Security statement on your list of things to get done before 2022 ends.